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花旗国的半边天

An Exploration of Women's Issues

 
 
 

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名字游戏 (The Name Game)  

2011-08-05 09:58:58|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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名字游戏 (The Name Game) - 美国马尾妹 - 花旗国的半边天
 在西方文化中,家族姓氏长久以来依据父系血统代代相传。已婚的妇女必须改用夫姓,子女也被冠以父亲的姓氏。但是从19世纪中期到20世纪早期,妇女开始对 这种根深蒂固的传统提出挑战,坚信这是一种严重的性别歧视。今天,美国女性在婚后有选择更改姓氏的自由,但姓名平等的话题依旧众说纷纭。有人认为姓氏不应 当成为一个女权主义的议题,我们没有必要改变这样一个经年累月的传统,把问题复杂化。也有人反对这种看法,认为发起更多倡导姓氏性别平等的运动是缔造平等 社会的关键。   

     In Western culture, family surnames were traditionally passed down along the paternal line.  Women were expected to change their surname to their husband's after marriage and children were always given their father's surname.  From the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century, however, women began to challenge this deeply entrenched tradition, insisting that it was a serious form of sex discrimination.  Today, American women have the freedom to choose whether or not to change their names at marriage, but the topic of name equality is still one of some controversy.  Some people argue that surnames should not be considered a feminist issue and that it is needlessly complicated to attempt to change such a longstanding cultural practice.  Others dispute this opinion and maintain that creating more gender equal naming practices is essential to forging a more egalitarian society.

    There are a number of options available to married couples who wish to break free of traditional naming practices.  Some husbands and wives simply keep their original surnames, content to have different names from each other.   However, this approach becomes complicated when these couples have children.  Should the children bear the surname of their mother or their father?  According to the Lucy Stone League, an organization devoted to promoting name choice equality, 95 percent of children born to married couples are given their father's surname.  This means that for many women, keeping their original surname comes at the cost of not sharing a surname with their children. 

    Among the minority that do not accept this sacrifice, the most popular alternative is to combine both surnames with a hyphen.  For example, the child of a man with the surname Smith and a woman with the surname Jones would have the surname Smith-Jones or Jones-Smith.  This alternative naming practice permits both parents to pass their surnames on to their children.  A less common but equally effective practice is for couples to create a new surname by melding their names together (for example, Smones from Smith and Jones) or to adopt a new surname altogether.  This option allows the mother, father, and children of a family all to share the same name without any of the gender discrimination of traditional naming practices.

    Although these alternative naming practices have become increasingly popular over the years, there are some who believe they cause undue complications. One of the primary complaints of these critics is that hyphenated names are unwieldy and impractical as a long term solution.  If two people with already hyphenated names marry, do they still keep both full surnames and hyphenate again?  They would be left with a ridiculously long surname; after a few generations, parts of surnames or entire surnames would have to be removed.  Supporters of traditional naming practices argue that a surname is not really an important part of a person's identity, meaning that bothering with alternative naming practices creates a lot of confusion without producing any real benefit for women.

    Advocates of alternative naming practices couldn't agree less.  To them, a name is an integral component of a person's identity.  Thus, when a woman loses her surname at marriage, she loses a part of her identity; one of her connections to her family's history is obliterated.  For this reason alone, feminists consider naming practices to be a very important issue.  However, a recent study called “What's in a Name?” suggests that there are social and professional consequences for women who change their surnames as well as personal ones.  The study found that women who take their husband's surname are more vulnerable to stereotyping than women who keep their own surname.  In social situations, women who change their name are assumed to be more dependent and less competent.  Even more ominously, the study found that women who change their name are less likely to be hired by employers and frequently receive a lower starting salary than other women.  This study provides concrete evidence to feminists' assertions that how names are passed on and shared is indeed vitally important.

    I personally like the term “name choice equality” used by the Lucy Stone Foundation to refer to the issue of naming practices.  I think that all men and women should have the freedom to choose what naming practice is best for them personally and for their children, but it is vitally important to protect that choice from patriarchal gender discrimination.



讨论:你认为姓氏是身份的一个重要组成部分吗? (Discussion Question: Do you think a surname is an important part of a person's identity?)

Sources:
Emens, Elizabeth F. "A Simple Hyphen Will Do." The New York Times 3 July 2011: n. pag. The New York 
     Times. Web. 4 Aug. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/07/03/ 
     marriage-the-next-chapter/marriage-options-a-simple-hyphen-will-do>. 
Leung, Wendy. "Married women should say ‘I don’t’ to changing their name, study suggests ."
The Globe and Mail 26 Apr. 2010: n. pag. The Globe and Mail. Web. 4 Aug. 2011.
<http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/work/married-women-should-say-i-dont-to-changing-their-
name-study-suggests/article1547482/>.
"Name Choice Equality." Lucy Stone League. Lucy Stone League, n.d. Web. 4 Aug. 2011.
<http://www.lucystoneleague.org/>.

Image:
[CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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