With that said, this kinda pissed me off.
The whole thing? About stereotype threats etc? Good to see explored and discussed out in bloglandia. But Amanda let her slip show again; she talked of the 'rationalisation' (one of those Freudian words I'm not deadly keen on using in sane conversation) of 'choices made under [patriarchal] oppression'. The post up til then was all about educational stereotypes (azns good; girls suck at maths; you know), so to illustrate what she meant about rationalisation she said...
Like getting breast implants could be considered a rational choice (it improves your social status, which is still mainly based on the good opinion of men), but then the patriarchal blather after the fact about how it’s an improvement to “self-esteem” (as if a woman’s sense of self is not inseparable from her physical body, because in a patriarchy only the latter counts anyway) is actually believed. Or your soon to be husband makes it quite clear that there will be no peace in your marriage unless you take his name, and then after you cave to it, you sincerely and completely believe that it was for the best, and the tradition is a good one. Because it’s easier to believe the nonsense you go along with than constantly feel like you’re the victim of the world.
Amanda isn't even slightly obsessed with breast implants. Not at all. I think it's actually been almost a month since she last told us how 'desperate' women with breast implants are. She did even better last time - she went almost two entire months without criticising the 'painful, expensive advantage' that is breast enhancement surgery. You'd think someone who reminded us of their opinion on the topic on a regular basis would have some kind of personal experience to relate here, but no, Amanda just doesn't like saline and doesn't like any woman who does.
I don't have any personal experience to relate there, so I don't intend to pontificate about it. Instead I tend to prefer listening to what women who do have that experience have to say about it. (And about people who don't listen, too).
But that other thing? The surname thing? That's a me thing. And it's not an Amanda thing - iirc, she doesn't believe in marriage. (My beliefs concerning marriage - and lack thereof - I have yet to discuss here; I may come back to that in a few months). So I've had to face this down in my own life, not because anyone else wants me to but because I had to: I have an appalling non-relationship with my father, I have no mother to tie me to any other family, and I am getting married to the person who walks through the world with me. None of these three things are true for Amanda, and it is likely that none of them ever will be. (well, it's likely she'll one day also be motherless but she'll never be a person who grew up that way).
Commenters chime in to say that any hard emotional/identity work I have to do over this is merely 'cognitive-dissonance reduction', and that any way in which this issue is more fraught for people with father problems is 'irrelevant'. Also, lots of hypothetical, supposedly normal, descriptions of a world which is not the world I live in; a world where name-changing is a "show of love" (that's never been how it is in me-land), where it's an expectation (quite the opposite, if anything - I think he was initially expecting to wind up with my name), where someone in your family has put pressure on you about it (there are eight adults called Ms A____ in his family already and funeral gatherings are getting pretty confusing. And I haven't discussed this with anyone in my family except Kathie, who is confused enough as it is).
And oh, Amanda:
It seems frightful to me to be like, “My father is abusive so I’m losing HIS name and taking THIS GUY’S name,” because you still buy into the idea that women don’t and can’t have names of our own.
I mean, why do I never hear men say, “I dumped my abusive father’s name?” Because as men, they get to say it’s their name, not their fathers.
I prefer the Tina Turner method. My name, wore it, made a name for myself under it, etc. Belongs to no man.
Three paragraphs there. The first involves perfectly simple acceptance of fact; in the conventional world that most people live in, women do not have surnames. They just rent them for a few decades at a time. Surnames are shining lights of masculinity, passed from fathers to sons by uninvolved female hands. You can buck the trend, sure (though Amanda will not do so, because she is childfree - not that that stops her talking about labour pains in that thread, not at all), but the trend is still there. Not even just in your culture, but in most others too.
The second is outright untrue. I said that, too, told her I knew a few men who've done just that. She called these men 'myths' because she hasn't met any, and passing judgement about people you've never met is a big Amanda thing.
And the third....oh fucking hell, where do I begin?
Tina. Freaking. Turner. An abused woman. A (in terms of background) poor woman. A woman of colour. Who made a hard choice about the name thing. Keeping a name given to you by someone who hurt you is a choice non-survivor, middle-class, white Amanda approves of. So she will take this abused, poor woman of colour and say that all people who've had to make this choice should make that choice, because it's the only right choice - Amanda says so, and if one poor abused WOC agrees it must be true for all people in that situation.
A brief step aside; there's this bright spark, zombie z, who talks about how her feelings regarding her name and identity have shifted over the course of her life (a cool read, that - I had the same name-avoidance as a child, and I'm not sure if that's related to trying to get distance from my father or not), and how she's now planning to change her surname in the future to a name of her own choice. I've never come across this person before, and I don't know anything much of her other views and writings, but this one made my brain bleed. Her changing her name is awesome, because she's got this whole story behind it and it's a fitting identity for her! But me changing my name would be bad and would be, as she quotes Amanda saying, 'trying to rob other women the right to own their given names'!
Me. Robbing other people of the right to own their names. Because I spoke up to say that for people who've been slapped around by their fathers, that one is frekking complicated and is not just readable as your name vs your spouse's name - it instead takes you back to that original purpose of surnaming, that denoting of a masculine lineage. (btw, as I am robbing other people of the right to own their names, Amanda is assuring me that the name-changing men I know are mythical, and don't even own their own existences). While it's not the same situation and can't be mapped onto it point for point, I was reminded of a certain Alas post: Q: Since When Is Being Criticized Like Having Your Limbs Blown Off by a Landmine? A: Since That Criticism Came from Someone with Less Privilege Than You.