Names Again

Norm Geras has taken up the discussion of women and names. (And by the way, speaking of Norm, there was a conference to honour his career at Manchester a few days ago. Chris Bertram of Twisty Sticks gave a paper there on Marx and Engels reading Rousseau, Ian Kershaw gave one on the singularity of the Holocaust. I was not there, I was over here, several miles away, turning pale with envy.) You’ll see that he doesn’t entirely agree with JerryS.

..what’s always struck me as the most difficult issue is not – as gets pointed out pretty quickly – that by keeping her own name a woman is still thereby accepting to be known by the name of another man: in this case her father’s. That is unavoidable.

The background to that is that Manchester City beat Manchester United last weekend.

No it’s not, I’m just being silly. As usual. Or rather more than usual. It’s this book, you see. I work on it for awhile and end up feeling light-headed – all that snickering. Anyway, Norm makes a good point about this business of a woman’s keeping her own name after marriage but then giving all the children the father’s name.

But I find the option perplexing. For what it seems to initiate by the woman’s retention of her own name – that is, putting men and women on an equal footing in this domain – it effectively undercuts by the way the child is named.

Just so. I suppose that’s one of the many bits of radicalism that was just allowed to drift away over the years. But many of those bits of radicalism were worth hanging onto and trying to implement, I’ve always thought and still think. And that’s one of them.

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