Why No One Should Have to Change Their Name


Jeff  wonders: is there a word for feminism, but for men? Is there even room for such a word?

Jill Filipovic’s recent piece, “Why should married women change their names?” is thoughtful and well written.

It’s also myopic and misguided.

Granted, no woman should be obligated to take her husband’s surname, and the fact that 50% of Americans disagree on this point is astonishing. But I find Filipovic’s suggestion—that a man ought to do what she herself will not—symptomatic of a widespread disregard for male issues in contemporary feminist discourse.

If “putting a word to the most obvious social dynamics is the first step toward ending inequality,” can Filipovic put a word to her contention that men “don’t grow up under the shadow of several thousand years of gender-based discrimination?” My own word for this would be misandry (a term, by the way, that one rarely encounters outside of a gender-and-sexuality seminar).

Much thought has been given to man’s own sense of socially conditioned “psychological impermanence.” The fact that Filipovic makes no mention of this is, again, what I find so asymmetrical about current gender debates. Any productive conversation about gender has to begin with the acknowledgment that there are more than one, that both men and women face discrimination because of their sex.

Has history been more discriminating toward women in this regard? Of course. But to take men out of the discussion entirely is to perpetuate the kind of intolerance Filipovic undoubtedly abhors.

– D. Schwartz