Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Women Should Lose Themselves in Men"

I know, not the kind of headline one might expect from me, to put it mildly. This is a quote from the following article, What women's lib? 70 Percent Of Americans Think Women Should Take Spouse's Name After Marriage. Say whaaa??

The results of this article came out the other day, though one might think the results would more likely be from the 19th century:
Newly minted brides should do more than vow to love their hubbies for a lifetime, say the majority of Americans. Some 70 percent of the respondents in a new study feel they should also take their spouse’s surname - and 50 percent say that it should be a legal requirement for a woman to take her spouse’s last name.

The study, presented Tuesday at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting, was done by the Center for Survey Research at Indiana University, as reported by USA Today.

Some 815 people were asked multiple choice and open-ended questions about a variety of family and gender issues. On the issue of marital name change, the majority of respondents weighed in with a fairly conservative answer, says Laura Hamilton, Indiana University associate professor and lead study author.

“The results were surprisingly conservative,” she says. “Even though there is a general movement toward neutral language, like saying chairperson instead of chairwoman, people seemed to feel it was better for a woman to change her last name to her husband’s.”

You gotta admit. This is pretty surprising. Well, I should say, it would have been MORE surprising back in 2007, if you get my drift. But wait, there's more:
She said that the fact that half of American thought this should be a legal requirement was also surprising.

“Americans don’t want much government intervention in family life, so for 50 percent of Americans to feel this way was interesting,” she said.

Only 5 to 10 percent of women keep the name they were born with when they marry, Hamilton says. She notes that some studies show that younger women are more likely or as likely to change their name as baby boom brides. “It’s not a straight age trend,” she said, according to USA Today.

When the respondents were asked why they felt women should change their name after the wedding, Hamilton says, “They told us that women should lose their own identity when they marry and become a part of the man and his family. This was a reason given by many.” (Emphasis mine.)

Other respondents said they felt the marital name change was essential for religious reasons or as a practical matter.

“They said the mailman would get confused and that society wouldn’t function as well if women did not change their name,” Hamilton says.

For cryin' out loud, really? That's some of the logic going on there? That the "mailMAN" will get confused if people with two last names at the same address get mail?? Well, our mailWOMAN doesn't get the least bit confused delivering mail to us. Hey, I'm just saying (and no, I am not putting down men - just the sexist implications all the way across the board with that one).

And yes, that so many think it should be a LAW is significant. So much for personal liberty and all that. Who needs to make decisions about something as personal as their name? Certainly not the little lady who just got married.

This is not as surprising, though:
Americans who feel that women should take their husband’s last name also tend to be conservative in other areas, according to Hamilton.

“Asked if they thought of a lesbian couple as a family, those who believe that women should take their husband’s name are less likely to say yes,” she says. “If you’re more liberal about the name change issue, you tend to include a larger population in the definition of family."

Oh, well. I feel better about that, don't you? It's a start, I suppose. Maybe we actually get to KEEP our own identity then?? Woohoo - being a lesbian in this culture is finally paying off! Yippee!!!

Ahem. Yes, according to the survey, "women should lose their identity..." LOSE THEIR IDENTITY. Forget about this sounding like the 19th century. It goes back WAY father than that. This is so disturbing on so many different levels, I can only shake my head in utter disbelief. Seriously - can you BELIEVE this? This "subjugate yourself to the man" thing is freakin' biblical - and two THOUSAND years later, women are still expected to eradicate themselves?

Wow. You know, it is only a matter of degrees between this survey, and this recent article, Afghanistan Passes 'Barbaric' Law Diminishing Women's Rights, Rehashed legislation allows husbands to deny wives food if they fail to obey sexual demands.

(Photo, Kabul, 2002, Sung Nam Hoon)

It is exactly the mindset above that gives SPACE to this kind of thinking, and allows laws like this to gain approval:
Afghanistan has quietly passed a law permitting Shia men to deny their wives food and sustenance if they refuse to obey their husbands' sexual demands, despite international outrage over an earlier version of the legislation which President Hamid Karzai had promised to review.

The new final draft of the legislation also grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers, and requires women to get permission from their husbands to work.

"It also effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying 'blood money' to a girl who was injured when he raped her," the US charity Human Rights Watch said.

Holy freakin' shit. I feel like I have fallen through a wormhole and traveled way, WAY back in time.

But wait - didn't The One wave his magic wand, ride in on his Rainbow Unity Unicorn and say this wasn't such a peachy keen idea because women-folk around the globe might get a tad bit miffed, thus casting a pall on the reflection from his halo? Well, close enough:
In early April, Barack Obama and Gordon Brown joined an international chorus of condemnation when the Guardian revealed that the earlier version of the law legalised rape within marriage, according to the UN.

Although Karzai appeared to back down, activists say the revised version of the law still contains repressive measures and contradicts the Afghan constitution and international treaties signed by the country.

Islamic law experts and human rights activists say that although the language of the original law has been changed, many of the provisions that alarmed women's rights groups remain, including this one: "Tamkeen is the readiness of the wife to submit to her husband's reasonable sexual enjoyment, and her prohibition from going out of the house, except in extreme circumstances, without her husband's permission. If any of the above provisions are not followed by the wife she is considered disobedient."

Huh, well, I'll be damned. Evidently, SOME people don't give a damn what The One has to say. Ahem.

Clearly it didn't matter what Obama and Brown said, especially when you consider this:
The law has been backed by the hardline Shia cleric Ayatollah Mohseni, who is thought to have influence over the voting intentions of some of the country's Shias, which make up around 20% of the population. Karzai has assiduously courted such minority leaders in the run up to next Thursday's election, which is likely to be a close run thing, according to a poll released yesterday.

Human Rights Watch, which has obtained a copy of the final law, called on all candidates to pledge to repeal the law, which it says contradicts Afghanistan's own constitution.

The group said that Karzai had "made an unthinkable deal to sell Afghan women out in the support of fundamentalists in the August 20 election".

Brad Adams, the organisation's Asia director, said: "The rights of Afghan women are being ripped up by powerful men who are using women as pawns in manoeuvres to gain power.

"These kinds of barbaric laws were supposed to have been relegated to the past with the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, yet Karzai has revived them and given them his official stamp of approval."

Indeed. Women are pawns, and property of men. Dare I say it, they are forced to give up their identities, and their own bodies, to every wish and whim of the men to whom they are married? And any violation of the woman is really a violation of the man to whom she is linked. That is, to whom she belongs.

As for Karzai:
The latest opinion poll by US democracy group the International Republican Institute showed that although Karzai was up 13 points to 44% since the last survey in May, his closest rival, Abdullah Abdullah, had soared from 7% to 26%.

If those numbers prove accurate, it would mean the contest would have to go to a second round run-off vote in early October. In that scenario, 50% of voters said they would vote for Karzai and 29% for Abdullah.

The survey was conducted in mid to late July, so it is not known whether Abdullah has made further gains on Karzai.

He could further increase his chance of victory by joining forces with Ashraf Ghani, the former finance minister who is also running on a platform fiercely critical of Karzai.

Fifty-eight per cent of the 2,400 people polled by IRI said they would like to see an alliance between Abdullah and Ghani, who is polling in fourth place.

In other words, at least from when this survey was taken, Karzai still seems to be the frontrunner. Gosh, that is SO good for the women in that country, isn't it? Yeah, right - not even close.

And speaking of women in Afghanistan, this article came out recently, too "Marines Try A Woman's Touch To Reach Afghan Hearts":
Put on body armor, check weapons, cover head and shoulders with a scarf.

That was the drill for female American Marines who set out on patrol this week with a mission to make friends with Afghan women in a war zone by showing respect for Muslim standards of modesty.

The all-female unit of 46 Marines is the military's latest innovation in its rivalry with the Taliban for the populace's loyalty. Afghan women are viewed as good intelligence sources, and more open to the basics of the military's hearts-and-minds effort — hygiene, education and an end to the violence.

"It's part of the effort to show we're sensitive to local culture," said Capt. Jennifer Gregoire, of East Strasburg, Pa. She leads the Female Engagement Team in the Now Zad Valley of Helmand province, the heartland of the Taliban insurgency.

"If you show your hair, its kind of like seeing a nude picture here, because women are very covered up," she said.

Uh, yeah, you can say that again. As another reminder:

(photo by worldwidewandering)

I think that qualifies as "very covered up" (click HERE to read the rest of the Women Marines story). What is more, there is absolutely NOTHING of the actual woman underneath the burqa. You don't know who she is, you can't see her eyes, her mouth, HER. You cannot SEE her.

That is the point of women "losing their identity in men," is it not? Of women being nothing more than the property of their husbands, or their fathers, because who they are doesn't count. It doesn't matter. They are NOTHING unless they are connected to a man, and he may do to her as he wishes, whenever he wishes, and she must, simply, take it.

Well, at least according to the majority of those who took the survey here in the US, and according to the lawmakers in Afghanistan. Yep - seems there are people here who seem to have the same high (cough, choke) opinion of women as they do in Afghanistan. "What Women's Lib," indeed.

I bet you didn't see THAT coming...

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