So there are two things that I wanna talk about. One: National Women’s Day. And two: surnames and hyphenation. Handily connected in my title *is pleased with self*

International Women’s Day is celebrated on the 8th of March, so it’s soon! And I’d like to do something at college to join the celebrations, or at least to acknowledge it…any suggestions??

Here’s some background:

IWD is now an official holiday in Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ while many feminists from the 1970’s know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.

All this and more found here šŸ™‚

What do y’all think? Do we need a day to celebrate women and their achievements? I personally think that it’s important, as it is one day of the year where it really isn’t taboo to talk about women’s issues and speaking out is…well, pretty much expected. For once. BUT that is only if people have heard of the day – not many people I know of are aware of when it is…or even that it exists!

I also just discovered the Brighton and Hove group: here and there’s a comedy night on Thurs…I wonder if I could go…

Anyway, I digress. If anyone has any ideas for IWD at my college, nothing too large scale because a) I have very little time, and b) There’s not a great deal of support there…then I’d appreciate them!

As for surnames…

Today, I was talking to a friend about Jessica Valenti’s book, Full Frontal Feminism, who had read an extract, and she said she disagreed with what Jessica had to say about the changing of surnames. It turned into a rather big discussion, and I was the only one there saying that changing one’s name is significant. That it still is the tradition for women to take their husbands name. And that, at some point, the patriarchal system of passing on the husband/father’s name has to be addressed.

So, here’s what was said by t’others…

  • Surnames don’t matter. They are just names, after all.
  • Women can do what they like with their names now, everyone knows that.
  • Surely feminism should focus on something else, something more important?
  • Hyphenated names are ‘annoying’ and just mean that your child has to choose which part of the name to keep.

Of course, as the proud owner of a hyphenated surname, the last one rubbed me the wrong way a little. But I think that it’s a good solution. As is forging a new surname between you, moving on from the family ‘line’ and starting anew. I don’t think that your surname is your identity. But I think that it can still be important to you, that there’s power in a name (as most fantasy novels will tell you!) and so to dismiss it as a non-issue is saddening. Especially as it was almost a symbol of ownership, of a woman moving from being their father’s property to their husband’s. I for one am not happy with that, however traditional it may be.
Also, feminism really doesn’t focus on surnames. There’s no one focus, unless you say that it’s taking action towards equality. I often get that argument, if I ever take issue with the presentation of women in films/tv, or something similar. Why should I care, why doesn’t feminism focus on more important things?

Hell, one man (a teacher, surprisingly) even said to me ‘why do you focus on feminism when there are children dying in Africa?’. He was rather surprised when I said that I think feminism could help that, for if women were treated equally to men then they wouldn’t be raped in Africa, and they would be allowed access to contraception, so they wouldn’t have so many children and HIV wouldn’t be so widespread. Then there would be less mouths to feed, so less children starving, and more children would still have their mothers, rather than losing them to HIV.

Yet again, I digress. What do you think RE surnames? Do women still take their husbands name out of respect for tradition, or do they keep their own? Is it still surprising for men to take their wife’s surname? (Interesting, in regards to this, that in 1990 people were starting to see the sexism in surnames, yet in 2003 they appear to have digressed to an acceptance of the husband’s surname again…) Are hyphenated surnames irritating? And do they really matter at all, in the end? Perhaps we should drop them altogether, as this woman did…

Oh also, on a side note – I am almost exploding with anger over this…Charlotte Allen clearly lacks any intelligence or logic whatsoever.

And on that note – adieu.

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