Tools of the Patriarchy: The Naming Tool

“Tools of the Patriarchy” is a biweekly column on the tools that establish men’s dominance in society, or, in other words, uphold the patriarchy. Whether or not these tools are used intentionally, they contribute to a world in which women are not equal to men.

The naming tool is a long-standing tradition dictating that after marriage, a woman should give up her birth name and take on her husband’s last name. Children also frequently take their father’s last name, carrying the tradition on into the next generation.

Reinventing Pygmalion: Tracey Emin’s “Rocky” Marriage

The British artist Tracey Emin is famous for uncompromising displays of female vulnerability in the most fleshly and confessional of forms. From the dirty underwear and tampons of her 1998 “My Bed” installation to the visceral sexuality of her autobiographical paintings, Emin’s work is filtered through a desirous—and often distressed—mortal body defined by a raging […]

How Feminism Helped Pave the Way for Marriage Equality

The Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality is, as President Obama declared in his remarks following the ruling, “a victory for America.” It’s also a major win for feminism. In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy recounted the history of marriage in brief, emphasizing  that even though the institution has existed for millennia and across civilizations, “it […]

The Great Last-Name Debate

Here is a fun experiment for you to try on your husband-to-be. Ask him if he would have considered taking your last name instead of keeping his own when you got married. Based on what I have experienced, I bet that most men will immediately say no and provide you with a very creative answer. […]

My Feminist Name Quandary

When I, Careen Shannon, took David Solomon to be my lawfully wedded (now ex-) husband, I also walked into a feminist name dilemma. But unlike Pamela Paul, who recently wrote in The New York Times about the difficulties of using her maiden name professionally and her married name in other venues, I never considered changing […]