Sophie's Choice

The tradition of married women taking on the surnames of the husbands is an archaic and chauvanistic one, and one that says much about the submissiveness expected of women. It's symbolic of a man's ownership of his wife and her lack of an identity independent of her husbands. Thankfully, however, the tradition is gradually on the wane as more and more women refuse to accept their status of second-class citizens within a relationship. Not, however, Sophie Panopolous.

Despite ten years in the public spotlight, the Member for Indi has decided to take on the surname of her new husband, Greg Mirabella after their marriage last weekend.

It's Sophie!
Sophie Mirabella, MP


That someone of Panopolous's standing would chose to sacrifice something as fundamental as her own name for the sake of her husband makes it clear that the feminist project still has a long way to go. It also says plenty about Panopolous's own brand of white-picket-fence conservatism. Note the constrast with Anna Burkeand Natasha Stott Despoja, both of whom married whilst in office and kept their own surnames.

For what it's worth, were I ever to wed (not likely, as those close to me can attest) I most certainly would not want my partner to change their surname. I would like to see a practice whereby both partners keep their own surnames and their children take on the surname of their same-gendered parent (girls take on their mother's names, whilst boy's take on that of their father). The symbolism seems far more appropriate for modern marriage than does the overwrought symbolism of ownership and submission.

Comments

Peter Billing said…
Cate is welcome to keep hers when the time comes, but she seems keen to get rid of it, it seems!

Not sure if the overall reason for it is quite as archane as you describe, though. And I don't think it speaks to being second class citizens within the relationship.

But why the husband's name? rather than the woman's or some entirely new name of their joint choosing, sort of like a confirmation name. Well, you're right there, that'd be the patronistic nature of our society, for sure.

Personally, I favour the Russian style petronymics (sic?). I'm seriously tempted to give any future son the middle name Petrovich!
kristy said…
I'm proud of you for this post Ari, its nice to see a guy talking about this for once.

Also not changing my name, but you already knew that I guess.
Anonymous said…
Isn't girl's bearing their mother's name and boys bearing their father giving into Fruedian Archetypes anyway Ari... The guy who supossedly mapped sexuality and patriachal constructs onto the mind???

What about gay and transgendered children. The new model would probably cause more problems than the one we have. Also its more or less reinforcing the problems prefigured in Judith Butler's "Hetrosexual matrix" (talk to jepi about it). I think if anything what both sexes are aiming for is a more "nominalistic" approach. Needs more work though-theres a long way to go...
Daniel said…
This is a tricky one. Your "name of same-gendered parent" reminds me of what the Vikings did - 'Name Fatherson' or 'Name Motherdaughter' except that it was given names that were passed on rather than (the then non-existent) surnames.

But then what of the origins of surnames? Many of them start as designations of profession such as 'Smith'. But that can hardly work if we change careers several times in our lives.

But back to transmitting surnames to children. I have one suggestion: Surname of eldest parent is passed on. It is nice and arbitrary (like alphabetical order). What do others think?
Anonymous said…
Spohie Panapoulos-Mirabella or Sophie mirabella - the latter one's better
Peter Billing said…
How about Sophie White-Picket-Fence-Right-Wing-Fruit-Loop-Psycho-Bitch-Queen? Really, I'm just struggling to imagine her married at all.

Woops, that's probably drifted in to playing the man a bit, eh. Well, hopefully my earlier post gives me "thoughtful and decent" cred before you read this :)
Amy said…
Sometimes I feel like I'm taking crazy pills when I see how resigned many people (both male and female) are to the practice. Even amongst well-educated people in successful careers. So this is fantastic to hear, and especialy coming from a male it makes me feel a lot saner.

There are no easy answers when it comes to the child naming unfortunately. To me it seems reasonable that the female (being the person from whose body the offspring grew) should get naming rights. People look at me as though I'm a dangerous man-hating radical when I mention this though. I guess it is only fair that both parents are 'acknowledged' (for want of a better word).

The naming after the same sex parent solution seems as good as anything else really.
NahumAyliffe said…
Sophie Mirabella. Ahh I really couldn't give a f*ck what Sophie did with her last name. I just hope they breed- it will give the big kids at school another simpleton at which to poke fun.

Personally, I don't think I care about this anymore. Feminism has done much to advance the cause of women, but I think too many modern women are too fickle to appreciate the efforts of the fight which predates them.

"I believe marriage is a institutionalized remnant of an unjust patriarchy, but hey, wouldn't it be fun to wear a white dress and a corset? I don't believe in supporting sweat shops, but all the good fashions are made by asian children." What's the f*cking point?

Let's go shopping!

Btw, was that AMY KD from Melbourne Unit who posted above?
NahumAyliffe said…
Sophie Mirabella. Ahh I really couldn't give a f@*k what Sophie did with her last name. I just hope they breed- it will give the big kids at school another simpleton at which to poke fun.

Personally, I don't think I care about this anymore. Feminism has done much to advance the cause of women, but I think too many modern women are too fickle to appreciate the efforts of the fight which predates them.

"I believe marriage is a institutionalized remnant of an unjust patriarchy, but hey, wouldn't it be fun to wear a white dress and a corset? I don't believe in supporting sweat shops, but all the good fashions are made by asian children." What's the f@*king point?

Let's go shopping!

Btw, was that AMY KD from Melbourne Unit who posted above?
amy said…
Nope, nahumayliffe, its someone else. Just a random blow-in.

I think you are right in identifying that this is issue is small potatoes in the context of the wider feminist agenda.
Anonymous said…
Actually as a member of the liberal party, I can tell you that it had a lot more to do with people telling Sophie "marry someone called jones, and you'll become prime minister" she didn't manage a jones, but a mirabella instead, still it's more pronouncable than pannapoulous.
Anonymous said…
It doesn't matter what her name is - she is still a right-wing tart who is irrelevant to this country.

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