Archive for December, 2010

Name change game

December 12, 2010

I recently went to the county courthouse to get a marriage license with my fiance. After filling it out, I asked about changing my name because my fiance and I are choosing our own, new name — we don’t want the names of either of our fathers. I had read online that for women, there is a place on a marriage license to change your name, but there is no such place for men. So we figured that I would change my name easily by writing in my new name, while my fiance would have to go through the longer process of a name change.

However, there was no place to change my name and when I asked the clerk she said that “when you marry [the woman’s] name automatically changes to [the man’s].” If you want to keep your own name, you just never file Social Security changes or inform anyone of the (apparently automatic) name change.

I was so shocked and outraged to hear this. Why is it still assumed that women want to automatically take the names of their partners? Why can’t my male partner take my name automatically by filing our marriage certificate with Social Security? I am so grateful to be marrying a strongly feminist individual who never assumed that I would take his name; there was never a discussion of having only me change my name. We talked about both hyphenating our names, him taking my name, and each of us keeping our names before deciding that we wanted to choose our own name.

The government, of course, hardly holds the same radical ideas about equality between people of differing reproductive abilities! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that marriage, as the government sees it at least, is still an absurdly patriarchal and sexist institution, but I guess it’s MFIF.

Keeping her name, Southern Ohio

Advertisements

Let the woman speak

December 12, 2010

I noticed recently several stories in the press criticising John Bercow (the Speaker of the House of Commons) for ‘allowing’ his wife Sally Bercow to speak her mind in public. Annoyed me intensely. His fault she’s female, eh?

Links and more details.

#MFIF
Tom, UK

“Work”: a narrative

December 12, 2010

As I was getting out of bed this morning, I thought of an elderly heterosexual couple I know. He was diagnosed with cancer awhile back, and it’s sad to say but at that time I think I saw relief in her eyes. It took me by surprise, and I tried to understand… here they are a loving couple in their 80s and she is not completely devastated that her partner may be terminally ill? Maybe her relief was simply knowing now what was causing his exhaustion and other symptoms, but maybe it was something else.

Over the next few months I saw the toll his illness took…on her. She never looked so worn out as those times I would see her in the early stages of treatment. Perhaps her weariness came from accepting his illness and grieving his eventual loss, but I have come to believe something more. I believe that while his illness meant just that for him, it meant a whole lot of extra “work” for her. He has been retired for nearly two decades, but she is still the one cooking meals, doing laundry and cleaning house. If he “helps”, or did in the past, his illness is certainly restricting that contribution. Before he was ill he played a lot of golf, took long walks and spent some time visiting with friends. Now he hardly does any of those things. Now his illness is not potentially terminal, but chronic and manageable. Now she never gets a break.

I think I’ve come to understand a little bit of the relief I saw in her eyes, relief which has long since faded and is replaced by just plain tired. I think she was looking forward to a time when she could go out to eat if she wanted to, but can’t because he doesn’t like or trust meals that are not “home-cooked”. She was looking forward to a time when she could get out of bed and not “have to” make it if she so felt. She was looking forward to a time when she could do whatever she wanted to do, because there was none other dependent on her labor. I wonder if she’s happy, being able to keep working at serving him. I guess it doesn’t matter much, because after all… it’s #HFSF.

Fem Phil Corvallis

Female pleasure = terrifying

December 12, 2010

According to this article, a product that is supposed to help women who have sexual difficulties is having trouble receiving advertising. Apparently, most people in the media find “men to be intimidated by the thought of women’s sexuality as independent of a man’s involvement.”

I guess that it’s fine for men to get help in bed, but not so much us women. Must be that its OFWF.

M Ryan

Babe-y-sitter

December 12, 2010

I teach English as a foreign language to 30 students in their late teens. Their level is beginner to preintermediate. In the exam, there was a vocabulary question like this:

Choose the right option: “My neighbours are looking for a reliable / good-looking babysitter”.

20 out of 30 picked good-looking. Discussing the exam in class, it turned out that most of them understood the sentence well. It just made more sense to look for an attractive babysitter, and also to assume that this worker was a woman.

A couple of boys wanted to discuss that those two assumptions (the importance of good looks and that carers are female) weren’t sexist. #MFIF

A teacher

Unaccountable

December 12, 2010

Female employees at an accounting firm were ranked on their attractiveness in an email which was circulated to male employees. Clearly, the only reason these women are working at the firm is to provide wank fodder for the men of the company.

Guess it’s #TFTF

Aoibheann

Helpful boyfriend

December 12, 2010

My bf and I were hanging out at his place and we hadn’t seen each other in a while, so he was being very sweet and telling me how much he missed me.

He then began telling me how impressed he was at my confidence, specifically when we first were intimate together. I was flattered and thanked him, then mentioned my trick. Just to fake it, even if you are feeling a little self-conscious, which is normal for anyone.

He then asks what I would be self-conscious about. I hem and haw and just say something vague about how it’s a little scary the first time you undress in front of someone and it’s a very vulnerable feeling. Again, part of my secret is to pretend I am 100% happy with my body and not get into specifics, even with myself. Most of the time it works.

Then he offers a suggestion. “Like, maybe you feel like your boobs are too small?”

Thanks, dude. Nice to know you feel that way… or think I should feel that way, rather.

AC, Toronto

Lady lawyers cause confusion

December 12, 2010

I’m an attorney and I’m involved in a lot of mediations, which are pretty informal proceedings. Last week I had an interesting one. My opposing counsel, a middle-aged woman in a professional skirt and sweater, and her client, a young man in a tie, sat down at the table, and you can probably guess what happened: the mediator started talking to the client as if he was the attorney. The attorney corrected him. “Oh, I bet you get that all the time,” the mediator said.

Later the mediator spoke to each of us separately, and afterwards the other attorney comes up to me and tells me that he’d thought my client (male, of course – and wearing jeans and a hoodie) was also the attorney.

Silly ladies, we can’t be lawyers! That’s unpossible. Guess it’s OFWF.
#MFIF

Claire, California

USA Today’s female fat crisis

December 12, 2010

USA Today newspaper seems to think that women are clearly the only sex that has to deal with weight/body image issues.

At least once every couple of weeks, they write up a new alarmist article about the “fat crisis” of the United States. Each and every time, guess which sex is used in the picture accommodating the article? You guessed it! A female. Not only do I find it degrading that they would use someone’s picture to accompany such an article (even though the person’s face is not shown), but it just adds to my anger than it is always a woman. Because internet news readers often skip some or most of the article to jump ahead and post their comments, it is clear that many male posters relish with glee at the opportunity to vent their hatred against “fat” American women, while often lauding the elusive, submissive, petite woman supposedly found anywhere except the western world.

Often times these articles actually specifically only talk about how weight affects women. I have yet to see them publish a piece specifically targeting men on this issue.

Clearly, what’s more disturbing than these articles are the men that post on them to spew their bottled-up misogynist views.

Here are some links to articles:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-08-05-1Ababyweight05_ST_N.htm?csp=obnetwork

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-03-09-womenandalcohol09_ST_N.htm?csp=obnetwork

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/weightloss/2010-06-16-obese-sex_N.htm?csp=obnetwork

http://www.usatoday.com/LIFE/usaedition/2009-10-28-blline28_ST_U.htm?csp=outbrain&csp=obnetwork

http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/your-look/2010-11-08-large-women_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

I guess only women have body issues (despite the fact that men and women are overweight at the same rates), and of COURSE we deserve to have our pictures displayed on a national newspaper to accompany an obesity article. Oops, I forgot that women who don’t confirm to the fashion industry’s body standards aren’t supposed to be treated with dignity or respect. Males get off the hook regardless of their size. #MFIF

Fed Up, California

European warning

December 12, 2010

Reading MFIF reminded me of an event which took place during my time at university. I did a four-year language degree, with the third year spent abroad (I went to France).

Early into my fourth year, the language faculty arranged an evening event where returning fourth-years could discuss their year abroad experiences with second-years planning their overseas stays. I volunteered to discuss my memories of France, and to try and impart some useful advice to the second-years; other fourth-years who had been elsewhere did the same.

Languages is a female-dominated area of study; hence most of us speakers, and most of the audience, were young women. Every single female student sharing her reminiscences had a story of sexual harassment to share, to the point where the theme dominated the event, even though the evening was intended as an opportunity to discuss all aspects of the year abroad experience. Most of us had been flashed; street harassment tales were universal. The worst story was that of the student who’d gone to Russia and had suffered an attempted rape in the lift of her apartment block. Other girls had been the target of attempted drug rapes in clubs, or had been followed home by men they encountered on public transport.

The second-years who attended seemed quite taken aback by the speakers’ strong and near-unanimous warnings about harassment and attempted violence. Male students, too, should beware those things when on their years abroad – but it is the female students who are always much more likely to experience sexual violence, whether verbal or physical.

Of course, it’s not like the UK is a paradise where sexual harassment is unknown – just that for students venturing outside the university bubble to a foreign country with different social norms, away from friends, family and support structures, it can be a real shock, and very unsettling, to be the target of higher levels of harassment. I wish someone had warned me about it before I went on my year abroad.

As always, guess it’s #OFWF.

Jo, UK


%d bloggers like this: