Saturday, July 08, 2006

Insensitive, or Just Bad Timing?

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Is it me, or does anybody else agree that it was in really poor taste for the New York Times to publish, in the same week that both New York and Georgia rejected same-sex marriage, Maureen Dowd's insipid column today about heterosexual married couples getting all giddy about amalgamating their last names?

Whether we agree with marriage or not, it is hard not to feel disheartened and depressed about this week's bad news. New York decided that heterosexual unions are less stable than ours, but that the children of heterosexuals are more worthy of state interest and protection than the children of same-sex couples. The New York majority decision also recirculated the unproven assumption that children who grow up in heterosexual households are better off than children who don't. The "truth" of this assumption will be news to people who grew up with fathers or mothers who beat them and raped them while their opposite-sex spouses looked the other way. Apparently half-baked, unproven moral opinions are suddenly valid if uttered by judges. But I digress.

I didn't link to it because it's on Times Select, so unless you are paying for the paper I don't think you can read it. But it doesn't matter, cause it's stupid, and I'll tell you about it here.

To begin by adding insult to injury, Dowd titles her piece "A Tale of Two Rachels," leading many a reader to wonder, hope even, that she was really, for once, talking about two women. Maybe even women in a couple. But nope! Fooled ya! She's talking about a married man and woman who decide to make their first and last names the same! How freakin' hilarious is that! The woman takes her husband's last name, and the husband takes his wife's first name--but ends up only using it as an initial, to avoid problems making plane reservations! So he's still a guy on paper, and she's got his last name!

Those heterosexuals are so rad! Changing society one custom at a time!

Another couple decided that the wife would legally change her name to his when they had kids, but keep her "maiden" (ya, right) name as her professional moniker. Amazing!

The only guy in Dowd's account to truly change his last name is Tony Villaraigosa, the mayor of LA, who by all accounts seems like an ok dude. Yay, T. V.! You got a pretty name out of the deal, too.

Changing your name is icing on the cake, the mere symbol of the union already recognized by the law, the state, the church, the families, the neighbors, and everyone else, when one is legally married. It's frivolous and fun, and anyone who wants to do it should have a good time being inventive.

But seriously, kids. Is this the right week to gloat about it?


art-sweet said...

Yes, really uncalled for timing. Pout.

p.s. Am following your post-academic journey with great interest. Am an ex city-shown-in-your-profile-photo resident whose wife's (funny, I used to hate that word, now I'll be damned if I'm going to cop to partner) tenure track job has us living in rustbelt blah.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Yeah, the decision made no sense at all and I have stopped telling people about simply because when I do they start getting mad at me demanding I explain how grown adults could come up with a conclusion so irrational - I certainly am not going to defend that.

On the same day Austria moved forward on same-sex marriage, part of an EU movement toward complete interEuropean acceptance of same-sex marriage. My partner and I are convinced that while America creates an anti-gay fortress around itself, the rest of the western world moves on.

Oso Raro said...

Hold on a minute, I feel like I'm gonna pull a Little Flora and throw myself off a cliff out of disgust (not really, but it is a nice image).