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Getting Personal: “I’m Conflicted About Being a Feminist and a Wife”

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The following essay is a guest post written by my friend, Emily Morris, whose previous guest essays can also be read here and here.

It’s been annoying lately seeing various starlets and famous women going (seemingly) out of their way to announce that they aren’t feminists, how they have a problem with “the word,” or rambling on and on about why feminism just isn’t for them because: “I love men!”

There seems to be a lot of confusion about what feminism MEANS. I hear a lot of women saying, “Well, what feminism means to me is…” Nope. Feminism is a word with a definition. It’s not a vague idea with no clear meaning, or a dream you had that you can’t put into words. It’s like any other word with a definition: monkey, cheese, coffee, chair. No one is walking around going, “What the word CHAIR means to me is…”

I remember sitting in my living room when I was twenty-two with my roommate who was a Polish guy working on his PhD. We were talking about feminism and he was adamant that he was not a feminist. I got out the dictionary and read aloud to him. Feminism is defined as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” He looked confused for a minute and then said, “Oh! I guess I am a feminist!” And when you hear that definition, really, who ISN’T a feminist?! (Susan Sarandon, Lana Del Ray, Shalene Woodly, I’m talking to you.)

So, obviously, I’m a feminist, and sometimes I am still conflicted about how being a feminist affects my personal choices as a person in the world. This especially comes up for me when I start thinking about possibly getting married some day soon, being a wife, and what that might mean for me.

Historically, being a married women in most cultures meant you weren’t worth much. You went from being the property of your father to being the property of your husband. You took your husband’s name so people would know whom you belonged to — you cooked and cleaned and had a million babies (and probably watched many of them die), and you were A Wife. A Mother. A Maid. etc. In America, we haven’t had a very modern idea of wives for more than a few decades (at the most!). I mean, have you seen “Mad Men”? Obviously, these days many amazing feminist women are getting married and having the lives they want, with children or not, and I am so happy I live in a time when that is feasible. But I still feel conflicted.

My boyfriend and I both come from families where our parents divorced. He was a teenager when his parents split up, and I was only three when my parents separated. We didn’t grow up with pictures of successful marriages in our everyday lives, and maybe that’s part of the reservations I have about marriage, too.

I’m not a career-oriented person; I’m happy to be at home and cook and play with my dogs. I joke to my boyfriend (who is a musician) that he should hurry up and get famous ’cause I’m ready to ride his coattails. I could easily be a stay-at-home… person… and be totally happy about it. But the WIFE thing… I still get hung up on it.

We’ve lived together for almost six years now and we’ve been together for almost ten (!) so I wonder what would be different if we got married. Does it matter? Would it change anything? (Does anyone want to chime in here?)

There are things that I feel like I would love about being married, and I keep reminding myself of those. I love my boyfriend more than anyone else I know. He’s my favorite person and he’s been one of my very favorite people since the minute I met him almost fifteen years ago. If we were married, we would be a family. I love the idea of standing up in front of the people we love and choosing each other just because we can. I’m not religious, so that part of it isn’t important to me, but to say vows to the person you care the most about, to say “I AM PICKING YOU above everyone else,” feels special and important. And I’m lucky that I live in a time when I can do all of that in a way that respects feminism.

I wouldn’t take his name. And I wouldn’t change my Instagram bio so the first word of it was WIFE. But I would be married. And I would be a feminist. And most important: I would still be myself.

Hmm, maybe I’m not so conflicted after all.

emily brownhairEmily Morris is a lifelong New Englander who eats too much cheese and drinks too much coffee but regrets neither. She loves Mark Ruffalo, Scottish accents, and the beach. She hates turtlenecks, the Kardashians, and her neighbor with the leaf blower. She is a currently a nanny, but her 2014 resolution has been to do more writing. She lives with her drummer boyfriend, two dogs, and one cat in Boston. You can find her wasting time live-tweeting award shows on Twitter.

[image via DC Comics]

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{ 110 comments… add one }

Lyra Lyra July 30, 2014, 2:20 pm

I think in 2014 many married couples have a very equal, feminist approach on marriage and I honestly think that’s the norm. Obviously there are still those who see marriage as the end all be all and that the husbands provide and all the wives do is pop out kids and cook and clean, BUT personally I don’t see that very often. In my own life, I love having a partnership with my significant other. In my current relationship, I feel 100% respected and that my thoughts are heard and that I am seen as an equal.
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Personally I’m still conflicted as to if I want to take a future husband’s last name. I was all for it in my early 20′s and now in my late 20′s I’m very “meh” on the name changing thing. I want to have the same last name as my kids for example, but I don’t want to give up my own last name either. I have a unique last name, and especially if my current boyfriend and I get married his last name is suuuuuper common. I don’t really want to be super common haha. I’m not a hyphenation fan either…so I’m not sure which route I would choose.

thatswhat-she Meg July 30, 2014, 2:28 pm

A former boss of mine was very tied to her name (sentimentally and professionally) and her husband wasn’t, for various reasons. So, he took her name!

Lyra Lyra July 30, 2014, 2:35 pm

I do love that! If my current boyfriend and I end up together long term, he wouldn’t take my name. He’s super traditional. It has come up in conversation before.

avatar Portia July 30, 2014, 3:34 pm

As much as me and Bassanio have a very equal, feminist approach to our relationship, he was very against taking my name. I think when I threw out that possibility, he finally realized just what he was asking of me to change mine. So, it’s likely neither one of us will change our names. Since we’re not planning on having kids, so there’s less of a reason to anyway.

Lyra Lyra July 30, 2014, 3:45 pm

Yeah, Navy Guy was the same way when I mentioned the possibility. What his mom did was she kept her last name as her middle name and took his dad’s last name. I may do that, but at the same time I don’t want to lose the “Lyra *currentlastname*” either. Ugh. So conflicted. It would be too long if I hyphenated my name with any other last name. Maybe I could just add it in with my middle name? Lyra *middlename* *currentlastname* *newlastname* Hmmmm.
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Not that it is something I have to worry about in the near future, but it’s fun to think about. :)

avatar Portia July 30, 2014, 4:10 pm

I’ve had a lot of time in the last 9 years to think about this, so I’ve thought about pretty much every option at this point. There are reasons why the common alternatives aren’t really an option for us – we can’t really hyphenate because our names end in the same syllable so neither of us would like it, I’m not giving up my middle name because it’s more important to me than my last name, and adding it in would run into the same problems as hyphenation. Oh, and we can’t create any good names from our current last names even if we wanted to make a new last name. Then there’s the added bit that my last name is a Jewish last name and I don’t want to lose that part of my heritage. I think what will probably happen is I’ll keep my last name and while I probably won’t correct people if socially they assume I have his last name, in a professional capacity I’ll be Dr. Portia Mylastname and introduce myself to people as Portia Mylastname.

avatar ktfran July 30, 2014, 3:42 pm

I’m also meh about name changing. I think the only reason I would do it would be if I (we) had children. I would prefer to have the same last name as my child. But, I like my last name and kind of don’t want to change it. And my last name is literally coming to an end. My Grandpa only had a sister. All of his sons had daughters. There is no known extended family. Anyway, that’s where I’m at with the name thing.

veritek33 veritek33 July 30, 2014, 3:45 pm

I’m the same way. My father was the only sibling to have children and they just had me, so no brothers to carry on the name and no cousins that I’m aware of, so I kinda want to keep my name because it literally ends with me.

avatar ktfran July 30, 2014, 4:06 pm

All of my girl cousins and sister who married changed their name and my other sister will change hers in a couple months. I’m the last one. Kind of sad.

avatar Portia July 30, 2014, 4:12 pm

Same here, it’s only me and my sister with our last name, and my dad only had a sister, so it’s ending with us if we change our names.

avatar _s_ July 30, 2014, 4:18 pm

I have to say, I HATE that in this day and age, the wife taking the husband’s name is still the default assumption, to the point that people still think it’s “weird” for a wife not to change her name, and totally freak out at the thought of the husband changing their name to the wife’s. Why should either party have to change their name? If both parties feel a common name is important (for each other and/or for having the same last name as future kids), why can’t they ditch both names and come up with a new last name? Why does the woman’s name have to be the one that changes? I like to think society is becoming more egalitarian when it comes to the sexes, but things like this being so culturally ingrained makes me realize we have a long way to go.

Dear Wendy Dear Wendy July 30, 2014, 5:00 pm

Or, how about when male partners in Hetero relationships get upset about the idea of their female partnernot taking their name, but as long as any potential kids get the father’s name, it’s not TOO terrible? That really bugs me. It was a discussion drew and I had before Jackson was born and I didn’t argue about giving him drew’s name because it wasn’t that big if a deal to me, but part of me wishes I had made it a big deal if only to help in a teeny way change the culture. If enough men start taking their wives’ names and if enough kids get their moms’ names, eventually we will have more balance and equality and it won’t be such a expectation that men are always the ones to pass along their family name.

avatar SasLinna July 30, 2014, 5:03 pm

That bugs me, too.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson July 30, 2014, 5:08 pm

That really really really bugs me too. Probably bugs me more than the notion that women are expected to take the husbands last name. I have no helpful solutions, but I know if I get married again I am not changing my last name. I will remain irish and awesome forever. It is my name and it is my heritage. I think the *most fair* solution I have come up with is to name one kid a name of each parent. I mean how really fucking difficult is it to explain to kids that we’re a family, and each of you got both our genes, and we passed down a name to each of you. If we have a third kid we can flip a coin. It REALLY bugs me (if I haven’t made that clear, haha) when guys say – oh it’s okay as long as the kids get my name. Um FUCKING WHY? I seriously want a guy that says that to explain that to me. The kids are OURS. OUR FUCKING KIDS. They are not more yours. Your heritage is no more important to them. Your genes didn’t end up in them 51% to my 49%.

avatar SasLinna July 30, 2014, 5:15 pm

I love this solution, but it’s not legally possible where I live. You have to give all your kids the same last name. And it can be just one name, no hyphenation. So that poses a real problem for me.

Dear Wendy Dear Wendy July 30, 2014, 5:29 pm

I’m with you!! Not to mention that in terms of biological kids, it’s the wife who is pregnant for nine months and births the babies. All things being equal, THAT should entitle her to pass on her last name if she wants to.

Miel Miel July 30, 2014, 5:57 pm

The same way: we are 100% sure who is the mom of a kid but we can only be 99.99% sure of who is the dad… Logically family names should be from mom to kids if the purpose was really to keep the genealogical trees in order…

avatar ktfran July 30, 2014, 5:18 pm

You’ve convinced me. IF I get married. And IF I have a boy. He gets my last name. My 11 letter German last name will live on after all.

avatar RedroverRedrover July 30, 2014, 6:04 pm

Why not if you have a girl? That would be even cooler, if she decided to keep passing it on in the future. :)

avatar ktfran July 30, 2014, 6:06 pm

Ooh. Good call. Wow, I’m stuck in patriarchal tradition without even meaning to be.

avatar _s_ July 31, 2014, 11:36 am

Oh I agree with that too. WTF, men? And I say that as someone who did take my husband’s last name when we married. I hadn’t intended to, but when I mentioned I was planning to keep my own name he got so sad I caved. It was literally a few years before I finally got used to my new name – it just didn’t feel right for the longest time. I’m used to it now, but if I had it to do over again I would’ve held my ground. Oh well. The older I get, the more I realize youth IS wasted on the young (and wisdom is wasted on the old. Well, not really, but hopefully you know what I mean.).

mylaray mylaray July 30, 2014, 6:31 pm

One thing I love and am considering doing is I had a boyfriend whose first name was his mom’s name. His parents came from very southern, conservative families and it was a big deal for his mom to not only keep her name, but name their son after her last name. His name was unusual but I loved it. I would have to shorten and change up my last name a bit but I would love to give my child my last name as a first name as a way to keep my name in the family. There are so many ways to include both family names.

genevathene genevathene July 30, 2014, 6:13 pm

My fiancé and I struggled with this – I have a very ethnic, Eastern European name, while his is very bland and common. So common, in fact, that his health insurance got billed for the other genovo-who-lives-in-SF’s medical problems. And if you look at his family’s history, his last name is actually made up (his grandfather changed it from his German name to better assimilate in not-so-German-friendly-at-the-time US), so there isn’t a whole lot of genuine history associated with it.

We considered many options, but ultimately realized that it was important to us to have one unified family name that honored my culture (I’m first generation American, our kids will have EU passports), and would be easily pronounceable by Americans and Eastern Europeans (I grew up hating getting my name horrendously butchered). We looked at our family trees and decided that my paternal grandmother’s maiden name fit us well, so we’re bringing it back! Not to mention, for some reason the American pronunciation made genovo think of marmots, so uh, we’ve got a cute new family mascot as part of the deal.

Anyway, I guess the moral of the story here is that you don’t necessarily have to take your partner’s name or vice versa. Do what feels right! (Ask me later what people’s reactions will be – we haven’t shared our decision with our families yet, and are worried about a possible backlash. Ah well.)

avatar Emily July 30, 2014, 7:34 pm

I have friends who combined their names and BOTH hyphenated their names. Which was a nice way to do it I thought. So the whole family has a Blank-blank name. And the names actually sound nice together which is a bonus.

Miel Miel July 30, 2014, 2:53 pm

I’ve been thinking about what marriage means to me in the past few years. I used to be single and living in Quebec (where marriage is not the norm. And I was 100% sure I would never get married for that reason) and now I’m in a serious relationship living in the US (where marriage is the norm… and now I’m pretty sure I want to get married for that reason).
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For me marriage is just about the commitment. There are many times where I say “I love you” but I feel like the words aren’t strong enough. I feel like I want to express something 100 times more powerful than just “I love you”, and there’s not really words for that, right ? Except “I love you so much!” but that’s still so weak.
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What I came to realize, at least for me, is that marriage would be what I mean. Saying my wedding vows would be this thing that is 100 times more powerful than just “I love you”.
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For now I’m just waiting for a time where we are both ready to say this and really mean it. But I don’t see how it changes my status as a feminist to love someone like that.

avatar Emily July 30, 2014, 7:36 pm

I don’t think it does.

It’s just my own personal internal struggle. I definitely believe you can be a feminist and be married. Cause… obviously.

avatar Portia July 30, 2014, 2:58 pm

I grew up with parents who had (and continue to have) a successful marriage and I still have reservations about getting married. Bassanio came from a similar (if a bit more traditional) family. I think it’s a lot more of the culture these days, especially in specific areas of the country.

avatar Joolie July 30, 2014, 3:13 pm

I was with my husband for more than a decade before we got married six years ago, and I was deeply ambivalent about marriage. We didn’t feel like much had changed at first, but as time goes on I feel like we have something stronger and deeper together. That might have happened anyway, but I don’t know…it’s just nice. And I’m not going to lie, the societal and legal benefits make life easier too. So I guess we don’t feel hugely different–I’m pretty sure we’d still be happy together if we hadn’t done it–but different all the same.

(Also being married has made me all the more impatient for same-sex marriage to become legal everywhere–everyone deserves to be able to make these choices with the person they love.)

avatar Emily July 30, 2014, 7:37 pm

YES. That was something I didn’t mention but I definitely felt more ambivalent about getting married before it was legal for gay people to get married too.

My dad is gay and he and his partner got married two years ago, on their 30th anniversary.

mylaray mylaray July 30, 2014, 3:41 pm

I always said I was going to change my name. It’s 13 letters long, very Russian, and no one can pronounce it. And then, I haven’t changed my name still. I love my husband’s last name. It would go great with my name, but I would also be losing my ethnicity by changing my name. I still haven’t decided what I will do.
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But I love being a wife. I do think the definition of a wife has changed for the better. I love that while we are traditional in some ways, and do some things based on gender, most importantly, we are equal. I think modern relationships are more about being a team. I didn’t really see that with my own parents. I had hesitations in being married, but it has also become really important to me as a bisexual. I happened to end up with a man, but knowing I can’t even marry a woman where I live made marriage feel much more complete to me and something I really wanted.

avatar dggirl July 30, 2014, 3:41 pm

I kept my last name. My husband is fine with it. It’s more interesting than his. We don’t have kids. Some people address bothered by it. They address stuff to Mr. And Mrs. Blah blah. But that is their problem. We’ve been together for nearly 20 years. So if they doubt our commitment, they’re dumb.

veritek33 veritek33 July 30, 2014, 3:44 pm

The getleman friend and I had a “married name” conversation as well, just to see where the other stood on the topic. He wasn’t super stoked that I plan on either hyphenating or just adding on a married name without losing my family name UNITL I explained that I would want my kids to just have their father’s name. He was more worried about the kids having a hyphenated name than whatever name his wife chose to take. I guess he was friends with some kids that had hyphenated names and it was always very confusing in school or whatever. Either way, my kids will have their father’s name.

Lyra Lyra July 30, 2014, 3:48 pm

Hyphenations get so long. Like what if you hyphenated a child’s name, but then they wanted to keep that when THEY got married and just kept adding to it? I dunno. Just gets confusing…

avatar ktfran July 30, 2014, 4:08 pm

Mine is 11 letters and very german. I couldn’t even imagine hyphenating it. Yikes!

Lyra Lyra July 30, 2014, 4:11 pm

Mine is German too! 3 syllables, only 8 letters. You have me beat. :)

avatar ktfran July 30, 2014, 4:16 pm

Nice! You can sing mine along with the mickey mouse club song. Just an fyi.

Kate Kate July 30, 2014, 4:17 pm

My husband and I both have one-syllable last names, and I could not be bothered to change mine again after doing it the first time and changing it back.

The result is, my dog Mike now has a hyphenated last name which sounds pretty cool. But he’s neutered and won’t be having kids that he’ll have to keep adding hyphens and names onto. So everything is fine there.

Lyra Lyra July 30, 2014, 4:20 pm

<3 you, Kate!

Miel Miel July 30, 2014, 4:20 pm

But we don’t do that. I’m from a generation of hyphenated-last-name kids and none of us will give four last names to our own kids. Even though a lot of couples both have hyphenated last names. It just becomes a bank of possibilities. You have 4 names to choose from for your kids. So you pick the best one.

It actually happened to a couple that I know. And they chose the paternal-paternal last name (basically the one that would have been transmitted anyway if we were in a patriarchal society), and now their family is upset. Because the dad usually goes by his other last name. And the wife didn’t change her name. So now it really really sounds like the three of them have completely different last name.

Whatever. Fearing the “foursome” of family names is not an argument against hyphenating.

Lyra Lyra July 30, 2014, 4:22 pm

Oh I’m definitely not saying all hyphenating is bad, just saying it’s not the choice for me.

Addie Pray Addie Pray July 30, 2014, 3:54 pm

Aw, I really enjoyed this!

avatar Emily July 30, 2014, 7:38 pm

Thanks, Addie!

It’s hysterical this has three votes for thumbs down. Ha. People are weirdos.

avatar SasLinna July 30, 2014, 4:07 pm

Sounds like you’ll get married soon? Haha.
I’m very un-conflicted about marriage – I basically don’t care much either way. The symbolism of marriage isn’t significant to me, so I would only do it if it had some other benefits. My boyfriend is pretty anti-marriage, but not in an anti-commitment way. He doesn’t like the symbolism of it. But I guess he’d agree to get married if there were significant legal/financial benefits.
Bottom line, I have no idea if I’ll ever be married, and I don’t really care.

avatar SasLinna July 30, 2014, 4:09 pm

But I would never have a traditional wedding nor will I ever take his name (which would only horrify him anyway).

avatar SasLinna July 30, 2014, 4:22 pm

This is a really funny one to down-thumb. Not that I care, but I just said what I was going to do. I didn’t say that I hate traditional weddings. Now write what you’ll do and I’ll down-thumb yours!

Miel Miel July 30, 2014, 4:26 pm

Sometimes I would really like down-thumbers to explain why they did so. Thumbs-up means “I agree” or “that’s cute”. But thumbs-down mean… ? I dislike you ? I take offense of what you said ? I don’t know. Thumbs down are mysterious.

avatar SasLinna July 30, 2014, 4:30 pm

Sometimes it’s maybe just a reading comprehension fail. Or: Maybe the person doesn’t like that my boyfriend would be horrified by my taking his name. But it’s the truth. He would be seriously weirded out if I did that.

Addie Pray Addie Pray July 30, 2014, 4:32 pm

that, but also sometimes the down thumbs just mean that they (the down-thumb’rs, not the commenters) are boring, grudge-holding pee-brained nincompoops. whaddayagonnado – can’t fight city hall!

Addie Pray Addie Pray July 30, 2014, 5:09 pm

wait, that would be pea-brained. haha, but i like pee-brain too.

JK JK July 30, 2014, 5:16 pm

In some cases I think shitbrained would be more accurate ;)

Dear Wendy Dear Wendy July 30, 2014, 5:03 pm

Sometimes a thumb down means: “I’m pissed that Wendy banned my ass from
Commenting but hey, I can still express my negativity and hate by hitting every thumbs down so that’s what I’ll do because my life isn’t very interesting and I have nothing better to
Do with my time but thumbs down and talk shit on secret Facebook groups.”

JK JK July 30, 2014, 5:14 pm

I heart you Wendy :)
Yeah its SHOCKING that since I started commening again (since the exodus) that prett much every. single.of my comments has guaranteed 4/5 thumbs down.. no matter how innocuous the comment. I mean seriously? people have nothing better to do than sitaroud waiting for cmments bycertin people then hit thumb down? sheesh. It´s quite pathetic really.

Dear Wendy Dear Wendy July 30, 2014, 5:19 pm

In most cases though, they aren’t even banned from
Commenting – they just choose not to either bc they aren’t brave enough to own their opinions (and it’s easier to hide behind anonymous thumbs) or they dislike me so much they don’t want to add to the comment count and make it look like this site is doing well. They’d rather just get on their secret (but not that secret) Facebook group and shit talk how this site is tanking because they aren’t commenting anymore. (This site is not tanking, by the way).

JK JK July 30, 2014, 5:22 pm

To be perfectly honest I prefer the site without all the lame comments and backslappng. I mean who cares if the amount o comments goes down if half of them before were people saying how awesome they are?

avatar SasLinna July 30, 2014, 5:22 pm

Wow, I must have missed that happening. I thought the people not commenting anymore were just on summer vacation or something, haha. Keep up the good work.

Addie Pray Addie Pray July 30, 2014, 5:29 pm

whoops, now you’re getting the down thumbs. they’re contagious. dun dun dun.

Dear Wendy Dear Wendy July 30, 2014, 5:33 pm

They’re not on vacation! They check the site every day waiting for people to notice they’re gone and say how much they’re missed. This is seriously what they have discussed in their secret (not so secret) Facebook group.

avatar SasLinna July 30, 2014, 5:38 pm

Interesting. Since I’ve been reading DW for years (with differing commenter sets) it honestly took a while for me to register some people were missing.

avatar Ktfran July 30, 2014, 5:53 pm

Wait. What? There’s an I hate dear wendy fb page? Seriously? I too thougt people weren’t commenting because they’re on summer break. Interesting. Well, I still live dear wendy.

JK JK July 30, 2014, 6:24 pm

I love that you said I still live dear wendy :)

avatar something random July 30, 2014, 7:17 pm

WTF Did I miss?

Addie Pray Addie Pray July 30, 2014, 5:31 pm

and in other cases, their husbands aren’t home from work yet so they just haven’t had a chance yet to ask them what they’re supposed to think about a particular comment.

JK JK July 30, 2014, 5:34 pm

Oh THAT must be why I only have 3 DTs a the moment.

avatar HmC July 30, 2014, 5:52 pm

Ok I am not super involved in the social aspect of this site but even I have to know who is involved in that FB group! Wow, dramz!

avatar EB July 30, 2014, 6:35 pm

How lovely. Please tell me this includes some of the same people who were railing against the evils of GOMI and how mean and hateful it is to spend your time snarking about people on the internet? Dare I even ask what they took affront to which prompted this epic flounce?

a clash about wedding etiquette? too many down thumbs on their comments? a joke about the entitlement of 80′s babies? the possibilities are endless…

avatar JimmyJam July 30, 2014, 6:35 pm

Do you guys want some cheese with your wine, you too Wendy. I simple thumbs down just means they disagree with you. Don’t take it so personal.

avatar HmC July 30, 2014, 7:20 pm

I’d normally agree with you (and I’ve frequently said the same) but according to Wendy there is a specific group of people that she knows definitively is doing it as a personal attack, not because they disagree with actual statements. Intriguing!

Dear Wendy Dear Wendy July 30, 2014, 7:40 pm

Well, no, I’m not saying anything definitively!

avatar kerrycontrary July 31, 2014, 8:43 am

Ok, I’ll bite. I’m part of the FB group. It is in NO way a “I hate Wendy” fb group. It was started in support of the site and a way of the readers of the site to connect via FB. So 1) I guess there was a conversation about the comments being low, but no one interpreted this as “haha the comments are low the site is tanking”. I missed the conversation the first go around. Making an observation is not that big of a deal 2) No one in this FB has “conspired” to downthumb comments. The thumbs have created drama for a while, even for the past few years or so. 3) downthumbing was happening regularly before people “left” the site 4) no one has said they check the site in hopes that someone says “i miss so and so”. I mean like what?

And here’s a novel idea: If the thumbs cause so much drama, Wendy could just take them down.

Dear Wendy Dear Wendy July 31, 2014, 9:11 am

I’ll try your novel idea if you try mine:
If you don’t like a website and you don’t find value in it and you have issues with the blogger behind it, quit reading it.

Dear Wendy Dear Wendy July 31, 2014, 8:31 pm

I’m going to comment one more time on this issue and then I’m going to MOA.
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For those who are reading this and have no idea what it’s about and are curious: back in mid-june I emailed two regular commenters and told them I was no longer comfortable accepting money from them and I canceled their automatic monthly donations. I did not give them a reason and they did not ask. Again: THEY DID NOT ASK. Had they asked, I would have told them that I didn’t appreciate that they had been rude to me in the comments and that I didn’t want them thinking that by donating five or ten dollars a month to help support the site, they were entitled to be rude to me. I think of this website as my space, like a home or a business, where I pay the rent and the electricity bill and I am happy accepting donations to help pay those bills in exchange for providing what I think is a cool place to hang out during a work day or an evening at home or whatever. But this is my space and I’m the host and I deserve to be treated decently. I don’t expect everyone to always agree with me — that would get boring — but I do expect the kind of treatment you’d give, say, the owner of a restaurant you frequent often. If there’s something you don’t like about the meal you’re eating, are you going to complain loudly to the owner in a hostile tone? What if your friends were there and you wanted to kind of show off to them what a big shot you were? What if the owner had just stopped by your table and said she was having a bad week and you continued complaining… louder even? Hell, no. That shit will get you kicked out. That shit will have the restaurant owner telling you she doesn’t want your money/bullshit anymore.
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So, a couple people made some rude comments and I canceled their monthly donations (note: I did not ban them from commenting). As I said, neither of those people asked me why I was canceling their donations (though, of course, they must have figured their rude behavior had something to do with it!). What they did do was go to the secret FB group and let everyone know what had happened. People were in an uproar. “How dare Wendy do that!” “Your comments weren’t even bad!” “People have said way worse things!” And then they started with the concern trolling. “Something must be wrong with her!” “Maybe she’s pregnant!” (Because any time a woman is upset, it must be hormones). “Maybe her thyroid is messed up again.” (One person even considered emailing me to gently suggest I have it checked). “She must be mentally ill!” And then there was the anger and the outrage… and eventually some mutual decisions to stop commenting on DW (like that would really show me). And, yes, people actually said that they wondered how long it would be before readers noticed they were gone and started missing them like long-gone commenters have been missed in the past. People — some of whom I have helped in various ways over the years — started theorizing that without them and their comments, my pageviews would plummet.
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Then, people started canceling their donations to me. Someone said she couldn’t support someone with such “dirty” business practices like I have. (Now,remember, the thing I’ve done — the thing they were all so upset about and theorizing my mental illness over — is cancel the automatic donations from two people who had been publicly rude to me.).
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These comments have continued over the weeks on the secret FB group even though I have done virtually nothing to engage this crew. Until this comment thread, that is, when I chimed in above. And now I’ve been told the secret FB group has been deleted (after more theorizing that I have lost my damn mind, and a couple more people canceled their donations).
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And this is where I end this chapter and move on. If anyone else has a problem with me or the way I “do business,” you are totally free to see yourself out. I hope most of you will stay and we can continue our discussions and continue supporting each other and continue giving and seeking advice and helping each other through long days at work or long afternoons at home with newborn babies or through sleepless nights when the weight of your problems — or just a bad head cold — are keeping you awake.
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I’d like for this space to feel light again. And I hope now it will.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson July 31, 2014, 9:57 pm

Whhhhhat. I’m not even in the facebook group, and I’ll be honest as balls – I am curious about fuck about who is screen shoting this to you. Like that is all I can focus on. That’s the strangest thing I’ve ever heard of. I understand that one side feels one way, and then another side feels another way, but all I care about is who this random person is screen shoting. Maybe that’s a weird thing to focus on, but that’s all I care about. This is like twilight style drama. I now officially understand how teengers felt when it was Team Edward and Team Jacob.

Dear Wendy Dear Wendy July 31, 2014, 10:12 pm

Who said it was just one person?

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson July 31, 2014, 10:17 pm

Oh that’s such a good point. It’s like the conspiracy theory of the world. I would like it if everyone could provide me with a list of members, list of comments, and list of facial expressions people were making while typing their comments, I could figure this out in a half hour. How is no one else curious about that? That is the REAL scandal here.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson July 31, 2014, 10:19 pm

This reminds me of how I feel about MH370 – I am the ONLY person who cares about the fact that that fucking plane just DISAPPEARED. Apparently, no one else thinks that’s a big deal. Nope. No biggie. Plane vanishes. People (alleged) die – in mass quantity, NO BIGGIE. Everyone is worried about Isreal or Gaza or whatever. Haven’t even clicked on one of those articles. WHERE THE FUCK IS THAT PLANE.

WHO IS COPY PASTING. I need to know. And if no one will tell me, provide me with enough satellite data so that I can make my own determination.

Addie Pray Addie Pray July 30, 2014, 7:47 pm

You had me at CHEESE!!!

avatar Emily July 30, 2014, 7:40 pm

Anonymous Thumbs is my new band name.

Dear Wendy Dear Wendy July 30, 2014, 7:41 pm

I know a guy who could be your drummer!

avatar Emily July 30, 2014, 7:48 pm

Totes!

avatar Portia July 30, 2014, 4:35 pm

Ha, that sounds like us: we said we’d get married if the legal/financial benefits were worth it. Right now we’ve got possibly lowering his tax base and seeing each other in the hospital.

Kate Kate August 1, 2014, 5:39 am

IWTTS, you are so not the only person who cares that MH370 disappeared without a trace. Whole websites are devoted to it! Have you not stumbled upon the Diego Rivera theory? Or the info they turned up about the pilot after doing 170 interviews? If not, you owe it to yourself to get caught up.

JK JK August 1, 2014, 8:59 am

I´m sure the families of all the people don´t give a shit about it either. I mean NBD right?

Also, a LOT more people have been killed in Gaza than on the flight. That being said, why is one tragedy more important than another?

Lianne Lianne July 30, 2014, 4:11 pm

I surprised myself when I decided I will take my soon-to-be-husband’s name when we get married. I have had my last name for almost 35 years and I thought I would just keep it. But when I think about us as a family, I want us to share that. I also don’t currently have a middle name, so I am going to make my current last name my middle name and then I still have it always. Actually, his mom took his dad’s name (they’re now divorced) but both he and his sister have HER maiden name as their middle name. That’s also something I’ve thought about doing for my kids. Not 100% sold on it, but it’s a possibility.

avatar Portia July 30, 2014, 4:17 pm

That’s what happened with my aunt: she didn’t have a middle name, so she just made her maiden name into her middle name. I remember her going by all three names for a long time. She probably switched to only going by her first and last when she ran for state government because it was too long.

avatar RedroverRedrover July 30, 2014, 6:09 pm

I gave my son my last name as his middle name. I kept my last name though. The nice thing is that now my son has both of our names. If we have another kid though, I think I’m going to bring up to my husband that I’d like the new kid to have my last name. I don’t really care if we all have the same last name (we already don’t), but I think it’s super unfair that I’m the one who has to go through pregnancy and birth, and he gets them named after him.

Dear Wendy Dear Wendy July 30, 2014, 6:24 pm

I’m starting to feel that way too…

avatar MissDre July 30, 2014, 7:50 pm

I want to give my kids my last name as a middle name too!

avatar ktfran July 31, 2014, 9:58 am

My dad’s last name is his mom’s maiden name. I always thought it was super cool. I would love to incorporate my mom’s maiden name into a future hypothetical child’s name. I absolutely love it and my cousins, aunts and I all identify ourselves as “blank” women.

avatar HmC July 30, 2014, 4:18 pm

“There are things that I feel like I would love about being married, and I keep reminding myself of those. I love my boyfriend more than anyone else I know. He’s my favorite person and he’s been one of my very favorite people since the minute I met him almost fifteen years ago. If we were married, we would be a family. I love the idea of standing up in front of the people we love and choosing each other just because we can. I’m not religious, so that part of it isn’t important to me, but to say vows to the person you care the most about, to say “I AM PICKING YOU above everyone else,” feels special and important. And I’m lucky that I live in a time when I can do all of that in a way that respects feminism.”

Haha, that is pretty much why I chose to get married, verbatim. Agree with your last line, you don’t sound so conflicted after all!

avatar HmC July 30, 2014, 4:21 pm

Oh, and as for names, I scooted my maiden name over as another middle name (I already had one, now I have two!) and added his name as my new last name. Professionally I still go by my old name, because legally and technically that is still my name. I think this says a lot about me and my selfish nature, ha! I didn’t want to lose anything, so I just didn’t, and now I have four names and I could care less if it confuses anyone. I answer to either or.

avatar Sara July 30, 2014, 4:45 pm

I think that “wife” (and, really, “husband” too) has similar, antiquated connotations for me. I think these connotations is why I use the elitist, snobby term “partner” or “spouse” in my marriage. And, as a self-described feminist, I sincerely do see us as partners – both working to make sure that we each have the same rights and opportunities as the other person in our relationship-bubble. (And, since I want to share – I moved my 9-letter German last name to my middle name and dropped the original middle name when I took his 4-letter, highly Anglicized German name.)

avatar Sara July 30, 2014, 4:47 pm

these connotations *are why

avatar snow.angel July 30, 2014, 4:57 pm

Something about this piece didn’t sit right with me. I don’t like the implication that wanting to be a wife and mother today somehow goes against the values of feminism. Especially this part “these days many amazing feminist women are getting married and having the lives they want, with children or not.” So, if you “just” want to get married and have children you’re not an “amazing feminist woman” or “having the life you want?” Well, what if the life I want is to get married, be a wife/mother, keep a household, care for my family, and raise my children to be good people who can contribute to society? Is that not good enough? It’s wonderful that there are so many more opportunities for women to take advantage of today, but it also puts a vast amount of pressure on women to do so much, and in my opinion puts down the value and importance of wives and mothers. There needs to be more respect for how individual women chose to interpret and take advantage of the opportunities the feminist movement has provided them with. Personally I’d be thrilled with my life if I was “just” a wife and mother.

avatar SasLinna July 30, 2014, 5:11 pm

I don’t think she said that you’re not an amazing feminist woman if you’re a SAHM. Sounded to me like she wanted to include every choice under “the lives they want”.
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I have to say that I have a problem with framing “wife” as something that can be alternative to, like, a career – that makes it sound like women with careers can’t be good wives. I don’t think a relationship status really counts as an identity/life path.
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Plus, I don’t think anyone needs to be more than “just them”. You don’t need a great career, or a husband, or children, to be successful in my eyes.

avatar something random July 30, 2014, 9:08 pm

SasLinna, I didn’t have the same reservations as snow.angel and I think I get where you were going with your comment. But I was a little confused by your middle paragraph. Why does framing wife/mother as an alternative to a career imply that women with careers can’t be good wives? And is the work involved in forming and maintaining relationships (be they romantic, platonic, professional, parental) somehow less worthy of being part of an identity than the work someone does to feed themselves and contribute structurally to society? And if neither of these are part of ones self identity and life path, what do you consider identity to be composed of and how does relating to others fit in? I’m not trying to bust your balls/boobs, I’m seriously interested in your thoughts.

avatar SasLinna July 31, 2014, 3:23 am

I should have been clearer & I shouldn’t have said it can’t be part of one’s identity, because obviously it can. I’m just a little bothered when being a wife (I’m not talking about being a mother or SAHM, which is a whole other story) is mentioned as like one’s main activity in life. And it’s not because I don’t think that the work in relationships isn’t important, it’s more because the focus on the work of “wives” often goes along with affirming an unequal distribution of relationship work, housework etc. In other words I tend to assume that the husbands in those relationships where the woman focuses a lot on being a wife don’t put in as much work. I’d be very surprised if the husbands also mention “being a husband” as a primary activity. But a lot of that obviously has to do with the connotations of the word “wife”. And yeah, the relationship work is important. I just think that almost all women, regardless of employment, do a lot of that work.

I agree that women saying that being a wife and mother is enough doesn’t necessarily put women with careers outside the home down. I totally understand the choice to be a SAHM. And with being a SAHM I can see how they put a lot of extra work in that. But again with being a wife (independently of looking after kids) I don’t quite get it, because I don’t believe I would be a better wife in any way if I didn’t work outside the home. I’m not really seeing how my work should affect my relationship “work”, and bringing being a wife up as something that I could also do with my life instead of working just rings very gendered to me.

I promise I’m not saying SAHM don’t do worthy work or that they aren’t feminist. I even hate that idea. But when a woman tells me “I’m X and my main activity in life is being Y’s wife”, I admit I will think that’s a very gendered thing to say.

avatar SasLinna July 31, 2014, 3:32 am

As for forming identities, I think it would be great if aspects other than career, kids, and relationship status would get more recognition. For example, I enjoyed the way Emily described herself in her bio. And within the relationship category, I would love it if relationships other than hetero marriage and mother-child would get more recognition. Friendships among women, aunt-niece or aunt-nephew relationships etc. should be celebrated more.

avatar something random July 31, 2014, 5:25 pm

Thank you for your thoughtful response. It really helped me understand your point of view better. I think if both you and your partner work outside the home; it probably would feel foreign to re-negotiate splitting domestic duties to something other than roughly 50/50.

Given all the tremendous sacrifices and continued efforts to crack through that ever-present glass ceiling, I understand being weary of a woman who puts in herself in a position to be financially reliant on a partner to support her and who attempts to reciprocate by becoming a personal servant (with cooking, cleaning, laundry and all forms of Cheerleading). Such an arrangement has a tremendous imbalance of power and brings to question whether both partners are whole, autonomous adults. It is an easy peril to slip into adult/child/control/rebellion dynamics and it may wall a woman into a relationship that no longer functions or brings fulfillment.

That said, I do think its possible for a women to be a housewife. Yes, I am definitely biased. As a SAHM, I know all to well about making life choices that carry risk. I never thought I wouldn’t be invested in a career. I worked before and after my husband I got married. After I had my first son I was set up to go to grad school for a better job. My husband had a good career and could support us. But when my son had some severe delays we both decided it would be best for me to stay home with him. I personally felt I would be more motivated to work with him than a babysitter or daycare. I didn’t judge them as the sub-par options or think our son wouldn’t thrive there. My husband and I just both felt it was something we wanted to do personally for our son. Maybe its because we both had a fair amount of trauma throughout our childhoods but we were definitely super cautious parents initially. After I had my second son, I did go back to work part-time. But most of my paycheck went into childcare and my baby didn’t seem to be able to adjust to napping well at the daycare we chose which really threw off his night schedule. My job was stressful. I decided it just wasn’t worth it and my husband supported my choice. It is risky staying home and not keeping a current resume. I know I could make it if things didn’t work with my husband, but I would be at a severe disadvantage. Luckily I have every confidence I won’t need to. But it’s scary to know how much we rely on each other.

I know this isn’t the same as professionally declaring yourself “MRS. So and So”. But I know a lot SAHMs that continue to stay home after their kids have hit school. These women get to make gorgeous meals, and pursue hobbies, and exercise and have an awesome life balance. They are centered, and smart, and patient parents and spouses. It appears like their husbands feel it’s been a good trade. A lot of these women are military and have uprooted themselves again and again for their husband’s careers.

I really respect your responses (here and in general). I agree it’s important to embrace women’s non-parental/martial relationships and contributions. I celebrate women who can excell in a career while balancing parenthood. Their contribution of modeling empowerment and trailblazing against ageist, sexist, limiting stereotypes is something I’m grateful for on behalf of my sons and their future families and myself. I just think its important to remember that there are a lot of roads to equality in a relationship and sometimes arrangements that appear power-lopsided are really balanced in the long term scope of a life together.

(And this is why a single thumbs down is less cumbersome than a comment ☺)

avatar SasLinna July 31, 2014, 5:55 pm

I agree with everything you said and totally understand your point of view. I’m not one to scrutinize other women’s choices and again, I think the choice to be a SAHM often makes practical sense. Even if it’s risky in some ways – lots of life choices can be risky after all. I also think it’s it’s absolutely possible for a woman to choose to do care work and focus on raising children without affirming gender stereotypes. I’m really only irked by people who actively affirm what I tend to view as tired stereotypes, and I guess a focus on being a wife is on of the things I tend to view as that, though maybe there are ways to do that in a non-sexist way, too. (Plus, holding up gender stereotypes doesn’t necessarily coincide with a “traditional” distribution of labor at all).

avatar Emily July 30, 2014, 7:45 pm

I never said that. I clearly said FOR ME I have some issues with being a wife. I have no problems with any woman being a wife or mother or NOT… and being a feminist. Everyone should be what they want to be.

This is about MY PERSONAL thoughts about being a wife. I have total respect for any choice other women make for themselves.

avatar Emily July 30, 2014, 7:47 pm

Also when did I say anything about “just” being a wife and mother?? I think being a wife and mother is amazing. I’m confused.

avatar snow.angel July 30, 2014, 10:07 pm

I’m sorry! I guess I misunderstood your tone then. I read that paragraph about America not having modern ideas about wives as saying that the more “traditional” view of a wife who stays home, raises children, and maintains a household is a completely horrible thing, and that a wife who focuses on doing those things isn’t “living the life she wants.”

avatar AKchic July 30, 2014, 7:25 pm

Honestly, after two name changes, I’m done changing my name, for any person. My kids didn’t get my maiden name because my maiden name isn’t even the family name. My father changed it to his stepfather’s name, and then he changed his name back after my mom and him separated so he could hide from child support. I don’t know what his LEGAL name is at this point because the name I had may never have been legal for him in the first place. Or the current name change may not be legal. No sense in saddling my kids with that baggage!

avatar lets_be_honest July 30, 2014, 7:37 pm

Weird to see these upsetting comments on a post about feminism of all things. We should be bringing our fellow women up, not pushing them down with catty insults. :(

Dear Wendy Dear Wendy July 30, 2014, 8:00 pm

Emily, in answer to whether getting married matters and if it would change anything:
it depends. I think for someone like you who can articulate some reasons to marry, beyond whatever legal benefits it might bring, marriage probably WOULD matter and it WOULD change things. Maybe not in a huge way, but in a really sweet, lovely, subtle way. Because marriage DOES make you family (you can be family without marriage, obviously), but it makes it official and that officialness means something. And there IS something about exchanging vows and saying I PICK YOU in front of people you love that brings you even closer. So, I say go for it! Get married! Do it! Have a party, wear a dress, have some music and say you pick each other in front of all the people you love most. It’ll be a blast!

avatar Emily July 30, 2014, 8:12 pm

That’s nice. Thanks, lovely! xox

avatar judgesheryl July 30, 2014, 9:30 pm

My husband was surprised when I told him he had to speak to my dad before we got engaged since I’m very much a feminist (I know my dad would have been hurt). I told him he wasn’t supposed to ask “permission” but he should phrase it as asking for “blessing”, and my husband liked that idea. He went one more step past the patriarchy and asked my mom for her blessing too.

Marriage is what you make of it.

avatar KMJ July 31, 2014, 9:50 am

I liked this essay. I particularly like Emily’s point about the word feminism having one meaning! Of course I knew that, but the way it was articulated made a great point.

avatar Emily July 31, 2014, 10:09 am

Thank you! ❤️

avatar KMJ July 31, 2014, 9:53 am

Also, if I get married I will most likely take my husband’s name. I understand the negative history behind that tradition, but at this point it is clear that it’s a choice and one I’d happily make. At the same time, I wouldn’t marry a man who insisted that I do so (because that’s not someone I would continue dating for long/get serious with).

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