Wednesday, November 11, 2009

* Martha Eve-Washington: The Feminist Conundrum

Martha Eve-Washington
but not Eve-Washington, D.C.

The Feminist Conundrum

Choosing a marital name: Somehow feminists have convinced themselves that retaining their maiden (virginal?) name is an act of liberation from male domination. Think again. All last names are male names. They all came from fathers. Retaining your father's name is no less an act of submission to male domination than taking your husband's name. Such is the feminist conundrum.

This debate raged during my years at Yale Divinity School (1976-80) and contnues in a lower tone today. I proposed a solution then which I repeat today: Women should put the prefix "Eve" (for the first Woman) before whatever last name they take, or keep.

And by the way the very term "woman" comes from the medieval "wifman" itself a term of submission: Wifman's Liberation?

During my days at Bread Loaf School of English (l991-97) one longtime faculty couple who married belatedly in life tried to solve this problem by creating a third name from syllables of family last names from either side of the marital equation. And example of this might be Smith marries Jones and takes the new name Smones. The conundrum remains: Even syllables from previous family names incorporated into a new name derive from male last names.

All-------------repeat all-----------last names come from males.

My solution while awkward does at least amount to a declaration of indpendence from maleness. Martha Eve-Washinton; Mary Eve-Todd Eve-Lincoln; Sally Eve-Hemmings, Michelle Eve-Obama.

And Barack Eve-Obama?

What about husbands? If they concur, they could be Abraham Eve-Lincolns and George Eve-Washingtons too.

And Washington, D.C.?

No change.

But Seattle?

Definitely Eve-Washington.