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Why do women want to be the "Second Sex"

post #1 of 72
Thread Starter 

So, this morning my husband and I are in the escrow office signing papers for our new house (90% of the down payment and 100% of the logistics and correspondence courtesy of yours truly). I had already been fighting annoyance every time the sale was referenced solely under his name by our realtor over the last couple of months despite the fact that I was the sole person with whom she was corresponding. (Am I his secretary?) Mid-way through a relatively short, as far as signings go, stack of paper work is one form. Just one little form. This form registers the name of the property tax payer with the county and for whatever reason, my husband was listed solely.

 

"Why is it always the man?" I ask.
"Some things never change." The (female) escrow agent chuckles, moving on to the next form.
"Well, it's my money and my work. It's insulting." I huff humorlessly.
... In the end, after some back and forth to determine if it was relevant, she wrote my name in.

I wished I could have been charming and good-humored about it but after 10 years of a career in a male-dominated field where I have had to fight for every inch of respect, none was every given freely, I am plumb out of humor. I want to be granted the same rights as my husband without asking prettily.

 

When I was young (especially before babies) I felt the thing to do was to be cheerful and press on and eventually merit would be rewarded. It's not been all bad but I was not entirely correct and there is ample empirical evidence to back up my anecdotes of inequity, unfortunately.

But the thing is, I'm mostly angry at my fellow women at this point. Men aren't holding me back. My fellow women aren't backing me up. I'm tired of being an outlier. [Edited to add: professional "outlier" was my primary meaning here. Didn't think to clarify since this is the Working Parent board.] I doubt many women would have been the least bit troubled in the escrow office because they seem to all take their hubby's name and happily slink off to lurk beneath his shadow anyway. The less forms and financial and professional responsibility the better, it seems. [Edited to add: I understand sentence offensive to some of you. And you're right, it was not in best taste. It's not a factual description but an emotional one that comes out of my continual shock that in the 21st century people seem to still take exception to the fact that I expect to receive equal treatment to my husband, and male colleagues, in all matters. Their reaction seems to indicate sometimes that I'm being done a favor by being relieved of such burdens.]


I have a gorgeous, energetic two year old girl and I just don't have a lot of hope things will be much better for her because I have come to believe women don't really want them to be. Am I totally alone on this? I need perspective. [Edited to add - I genuinely want all of your opinions, even if you disagree. I have been interested in what even those who disagree STRONGLY have to say on this ;) So bring it on, but kindly if you can.]


Edited by LittleGriff - 7/27/11 at 9:41pm
post #2 of 72

If it makes you feel any better, I had the following conversation with a bank agent, about 2 years ago when I was shopping for a mortgage.

 

Her: So, that's pretty much all the paperwork we send you. We'll send the mortgage application, and you list your husband first and then you and just fill out the forms

Me: Why do I list my husband first

Her: Oh, that's just the way we do it. Usually the husband makes more money.

Me: ... You just lost a sale. Thanks. Bye.

post #3 of 72

You rock.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anna Phor View Post

If it makes you feel any better, I had the following conversation with a bank agent, about 2 years ago when I was shopping for a mortgage.

 

Her: So, that's pretty much all the paperwork we send you. We'll send the mortgage application, and you list your husband first and then you and just fill out the forms

Me: Why do I list my husband first

Her: Oh, that's just the way we do it. Usually the husband makes more money.

Me: ... You just lost a sale. Thanks. Bye.



 

post #4 of 72

Oh, I hear you! It starts early in childhood with "pink and pretty dresses are for girls", and ends with "oh, you just list your husband's name first". 

 

As a single, unmarried woman with children in a very patriarchal country, it also gets frustrating that people think I am disabled because I have no husband. Actually, women tend to have brains and can work and support themselves, and their families. But nope, people take pity on me, the "woman with no husband", while men who stay at home with the kids while their wife works are seen as losers.

 

Something is wrong with society, and insisting your name is on stuff you pay for is a small but important thing you can do for all women. 

post #5 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleGriff View Post


When I was young (especially before babies) I felt the thing to do was to be cheerful and press on and eventually merit would be rewarded. It's not been all bad but I was not entirely correct and there is ample empirical evidence to back up my anecdotes of inequity, unfortunately.

But the thing is, I'm mostly angry at my fellow women at this point. Men aren't holding me back. My fellow women aren't backing me up. I'm tired of being an outlier. I doubt many women would have been the least bit troubled in the escrow office because they seem to all take their hubby's name and happily slink off to lurk beneath his shadow anyway. The less forms and financial and professional responsibility the better, it seems.


 


Umm....wow. Maybe other women don't back you up, because you're insulting us, think we're too stupid to know it?

 

I took my husband's name. So what? It's none of your business. That, in no way, equated to "lurking beneath his shadow". I also have no desire to avoid forms and financial responsibility (professional responsiblity? Maybe - depends what you mean by that).  I get to make my own choices in life, just like you. If you don't like them, that's too damned bad.  If you're an outlier, then you're an outlier. You can be as tired of it as you want, but that changes nothing, and it's not your "fellow women's" fault.

 

Wow. Yet another self-proclaimed feminist (I'm assumign - you can correct me if I'm wrong) insulting her "fellow women", because they don't make the choices she wants them to make...and then tons of you also dogpile on those of us who refuse to wear the label you want. You'd think after 43 years of life on this planet, I'd be used to this nonsense, but I'm not.

 

post #6 of 72

I'm sorry they didn't do the forms correctly, I think its common practice to put both parties on the house title and deed now?  I don't know where you live, but where I am I don't think that would be taken lightly.

 

Anyway, I'm about to enter a "male dominated" field, and ironically I think I'll be working with mostly women! 

post #7 of 72

http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/ 

 

Have you seen this blog?  You'll feel validated.  I love this woman and how great her points are.  I'd be mad too.  I'm a SAHM and a graduate student.  The first day, in a class of 30 people (only 4 are males) our professor says "You see all these guys in here..all 4 of them, get to know them, they'll be your bosses someday."  It is frustrating.  It's even more frustrating that I like my traditional female role in my house.  I'm happy.  I don't like the sexist stuff that I see/feel in our society though. 

post #8 of 72
Um. Hmm. I'm the one listed first on our home deed - and I'm the one who does all the paperwork etc. with it. I'm also the only one listed on the deed to the car. (He chose not to come down to the office.) I also am very content having taken my husband's last name and have no desire for financial independence from him - I'm a SAHM and happy that way. I'm not sure I see a correlation between those things and who is listed first on a deed. If you're not listed at ALL then yeah, I see the point, but it never even came up for discussion who was first on ours. I just happened to be the one talking to the (male) agent most and was listed first, I guess? I have no idea. If I had been second I don't think I would have cared at all.
post #9 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

 

Wow. Yet another self-proclaimed feminist (I'm assumign - you can correct me if I'm wrong) insulting her "fellow women", because they don't make the choices she wants them to make...and then tons of you also dogpile on those of us who refuse to wear the label you want. You'd think after 43 years of life on this planet, I'd be used to this nonsense, but I'm not.

 

 

OP here:

 

Storm Bride - I'm sorry to offend you. I would like to clarify that my lack of backup from fellow women is not primarily about surnames. It's about sitting in a room with two women who rather than say, "gosh, I'm not sure why this form omits your name, let's fix it" laugh it off and tell me that's just the way it is until I insist that it's not fair. This is only the tip of an iceberg in which women more than men have seemed taken aback by my pursuit of financial gains, my desire to receive titles and pay equivalent to my accomplishments, my lack of guilt around leaving small children in daycare, my insistence that my graduate school not penalize me for having children during my studies, my being appalled by always being asked about my family status in job interviews.

 

I left the laundry list out of the original post for brevity but realized that I simply confused things, especially by mentioning the hubby name issue.

 

Please don't be angry with me. I'm sorry. I know it's obnoxious to feel judged by someone you've never met. And that you have every right to do what you want with your surname.

 

But honestly, hate me if you will, it's hard for me not to feel that women's broad willingness to assimilate themselves into their husband's identity doesn't play somehow into the perpetual surprise that I would expect to be allowed to stand on my own. Almost all of my friends have changed their names. And I know how smart and fabulous and interesting they are. But they also do rely on their husbands in a way that I don't. And that gets lonely.

 

post #10 of 72

Well, Little Grif, I totally see your point and if people want to hone in on one thing you say about last names and totally wave off the rest of your grievance b/c they want to take offense, I think that, too, is part of the problem with us women sticking together.

 

When someone is venting about something she is upset about, I don't expect to agree with every single point she makes.  If I respond, I try to respond to the overarching message.  And, your overarching message was not that taking on the surname of your husband means something bad about you.  It is, however, another example of how women are expected to give up their identity to become a part of the man's identity.

 

It ticked me off to no end when I was married.  People would simply change my last name to his because that fit their comfort level about how I should live my life.  And, it's totally valid, I think, to suggest that we women need to be more supportive about making sure we are not forced behind the man in social ventures. 

 

Anyone who misses that in your post is trying to miss it, as far as I can tell. 

post #11 of 72

Quote:

Originally Posted by princesstutu View Post

Well, Little Grif, I totally see your point and if people want to hone in on one thing you say about last names and totally wave off the rest of your grievance b/c they want to take offense, I think that, too, is part of the problem with us women sticking together.

 

When someone is venting about something she is upset about, I don't expect to agree with every single point she makes.  If I respond, I try to respond to the overarching message.  And, your overarching message was not that taking on the surname of your husband means something bad about you.  It is, however, another example of how women are expected to give up their identity to become a part of the man's identity.

 

It ticked me off to no end when I was married.  People would simply change my last name to his because that fit their comfort level about how I should live my life.  And, it's totally valid, I think, to suggest that we women need to be more supportive about making sure we are not forced behind the man in social ventures. 

 

Anyone who misses that in your post is trying to miss it, as far as I can tell. 


I take exception.  The message I got was that the OP had an uphill battle all the time in this patriarcial society because other women don't back her up in trying to make changes.  Other women take offense/exception to that because most women are fighting the same battle she is.  When I got married my DH joined my existing bank account.  When he did, his name went first.  The IRS requires that his name is listed first on joint tax returns.  All of these things have been addressed to no avail.  It's a frustrating situation to a lot of people.  To have a woman say this situation exists because women don't back each other up is simplistic and just a way of blaming easy targets for the frustration at hand. 

 

What was truly insulting was the statement that:

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleGriff View Post
I doubt many women would have been the least bit troubled in the escrow office because they seem to all take their hubby's name and happily slink off to lurk beneath his shadow anyway. The less forms and financial and professional responsibility the better, it seems.

 


 

Seriously, princesstutu, you can't see how this would be offensive to most women?  Whether or not they changed their name?  Especially if they changed their name?

 

 

post #12 of 72

I kept my name and I agree with a lot of your points, but I think the fault lies at the feet of society in general, not just women.  I think it's sexist to say that it's a female problem. 

post #13 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post

I think it's sexist to say that it's a female problem. 



clap.gif

post #14 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post

I kept my name and I agree with a lot of your points, but I think the fault lies at the feet of society in general, not just women.  I think it's sexist to say that it's a female problem. 



Yes, but it's so frustrating when other women prop up the tired old "men first" conventions we run into every day. I've been in the same situation many times, and all I could think was "What a traitor". irked.gif

post #15 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post

I kept my name and I agree with a lot of your points, but I think the fault lies at the feet of society in general, not just women.  I think it's sexist to say that it's a female problem. 



Sincere inquiry here, is it sexist? I feel that women far more more often than men tend to tell me to get in line and do as other women are doing (i.e. not demanding so much for themselves). That's been my experience. Men have been the ones telling me go for it, you're doing great, you deserve this, etcetera. I've so rarely gotten that from a female colleague. (I can think of only one at the moment.) Don't just tell another woman "things never change" and leave it at that - help change them!

 

(and btw, my husband is my only close friend who is not a woman. all my best friends are women. hehe. i get tons of wonderful personal affection from women, i'm focused on my professional and official life here.)


Edited by LittleGriff - 7/27/11 at 7:48pm
post #16 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post




Umm....wow. Maybe other women don't back you up, because you're insulting us, think we're too stupid to know it?

 

I took my husband's name. So what? It's none of your business. That, in no way, equated to "lurking beneath his shadow". I also have no desire to avoid forms and financial responsibility (professional responsiblity? Maybe - depends what you mean by that).  I get to make my own choices in life, just like you. If you don't like them, that's too damned bad.  If you're an outlier, then you're an outlier. You can be as tired of it as you want, but that changes nothing, and it's not your "fellow women's" fault.

 

Wow. Yet another self-proclaimed feminist (I'm assumign - you can correct me if I'm wrong) insulting her "fellow women", because they don't make the choices she wants them to make...and then tons of you also dogpile on those of us who refuse to wear the label you want. You'd think after 43 years of life on this planet, I'd be used to this nonsense, but I'm not.

 


Exactly. I myself am a self proclaimed feminist, and so is my husband. I took his name for several reasons, one of which being that his last name is of maternal lineage. Regardless, being a feminist is a great thing, but dont kick other people who havent had the brilliant revolutions that you have had. Some people arent there yet, and some people have good reasons for it. Its nothing to be angry about.

Feminism is so different for everyone. My MIL is a feminist who is pissed off at me because I wont get a job. A feminist who prides herself in the fact that she did it all herself and accepts no help from anyone, even if it might have made her kids' life easier. A feminist who has been married twice but always made more money than her H and her name was on the car, house, ect. A feminist who is currently spending most of her time with fellow committee members, still angry at the whole world because women have the short end of the stick. And a feminist who goes home alone every night.

There is a difference in fighting a fight because its something you believe in, and just being angry and not accepting other people where they are. Your fellow women are just that, fellow women. Whether they are assisting you in the forward movement or women or not, they are still women, and regardless of what you think, they arent the ones keeping you down. The battle against patriarchy in this country is epic, but when it comes down to it, women are not the ones to be blaming.


By the way, the IRS does not require men to be listed first on joint tax returns. Ive been first on our tax returns for the past three years.
post #17 of 72


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleGriff View Post



 

OP here:

 

Storm Bride - I'm sorry to offend you. I would like to clarify that my lack of backup from fellow women is not primarily about surnames. It's about sitting in a room with two women who rather than say, "gosh, I'm not sure why this form omits your name, let's fix it" laugh it off and tell me that's just the way it is until I insist that it's not fair. This is only the tip of an iceberg in which women more than men have seemed taken aback by my pursuit of financial gains, my desire to receive titles and pay equivalent to my accomplishments, my lack of guilt around leaving small children in daycare, my insistence that my graduate school not penalize me for having children during my studies, my being appalled by always being asked about my family status in job interviews.

 

I left the laundry list out of the original post for brevity but realized that I simply confused things, especially by mentioning the hubby name issue.

 

Please don't be angry with me. I'm sorry. I know it's obnoxious to feel judged by someone you've never met. And that you have every right to do what you want with your surname.

 

But honestly, hate me if you will, it's hard for me not to feel that women's broad willingness to assimilate themselves into their husband's identity doesn't play somehow into the perpetual surprise that I would expect to be allowed to stand on my own. Almost all of my friends have changed their names. And I know how smart and fabulous and interesting they are. But they also do rely on their husbands in a way that I don't. And that gets lonely.

 


This discussion somehow reminds me of my Women and Words and Feminist Theory class that I had last spring. It was a senior level class with over 20 students in it, and consisted of all women. (I go to an all women's school) What amazed me were the number of womenin my class that just "didn't get it" and thought that the students (and the teacher for that matter) who understood the broader implications of what we discussed, and agreed with them, were a bunch of women making a big deal about nothing and that they needed to "lighten up" because our male dominated society was the "natural evolution of human society". Most women, but defiantly not all, "don't get it", I don't think anyway, until they've been a victim of or have an experience involving one or many of the symptoms and norms of a patriarchal society; i.e. the glass ceiling, sexual harassment, rape, physical or psychological abuse from a male partner, etc. What makes me mad is that being called a feminist now is almost a four letter word in our society. As for the surname thing, I just have to put my two cents in, and that is the historical fact about why a woman takes her husbands surname and that is because a marriage used to be an exchange of property, and a woman took her husbands name because she was his property. What is sad is that you can still see that this has left its mark on society in many many ways, even though a woman is, supposedly, not considered a husbands property anymore.

 

In reference to the title of this thread, if have never read the "Second Sex", I highly recommend reading the introduction it explains this whole topic really well I think. (Yes, I'm a feminist theory dork now, I can't help it. reading.gif)

 

post #18 of 72

Hmmm

I kept my last name.

One kids has my name another DH's.

 

I work. Work is money, money is power. I have seen enought postings form SAMHs who can;t find a job after their DH dies, left, fell in love with a new soul mate or became abusive.

 

There is no sisterhood.

 

We gone a long way....but there is so much more to be done.

 

I do not want to be First or Second sex

 

post #19 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleGriff View Post



 

OP here:

 

Storm Bride - I'm sorry to offend you. I would like to clarify that my lack of backup from fellow women is not primarily about surnames. It's about sitting in a room with two women who rather than say, "gosh, I'm not sure why this form omits your name, let's fix it" laugh it off and tell me that's just the way it is until I insist that it's not fair. This is only the tip of an iceberg in which women more than men have seemed taken aback by my pursuit of financial gains, my desire to receive titles and pay equivalent to my accomplishments, my lack of guilt around leaving small children in daycare, my insistence that my graduate school not penalize me for having children during my studies, my being appalled by always being asked about my family status in job interviews.

 

I left the laundry list out of the original post for brevity but realized that I simply confused things, especially by mentioning the hubby name issue.

 

Please don't be angry with me. I'm sorry. I know it's obnoxious to feel judged by someone you've never met. And that you have every right to do what you want with your surname.

 

But honestly, hate me if you will, it's hard for me not to feel that women's broad willingness to assimilate themselves into their husband's identity doesn't play somehow into the perpetual surprise that I would expect to be allowed to stand on my own. Almost all of my friends have changed their names. And I know how smart and fabulous and interesting they are. But they also do rely on their husbands in a way that I don't. And that gets lonely.

 


I don't want to get into this conversation (and wouldn't have posted if I'd realized this was in Working and Student Parents), as we are coming at this from such different places. But, I do want to apologize for blowing up like that. I do think the part I bolded was unnecessarily offensive and insulting, but the rest of my comments were out of line. I'm sorry about that.

 

post #20 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleGriff View Post

 

... In the end, after some back and forth to determine if it was relevant, she wrote my name in.


Next time, insist that they redo the form.  I'm serious.  

 

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