Scattered thoughts inspired by butt shorts

I tend to be more interested in our culture itself than in individual people's decisions. For instance, it's not so much my concern whether or not individuals wear butt shorts; I'm more interested in why these shorts are so omnipresent in our culture and what these kinds of clothing tell us about ourselves (about, for instance, our view of little girls).

Of course, individual decisions do play a part in the culture. I make individual decisions all the time that I hope will help nudge along cultural change: I didn't change my name to "Biffle" when Walter and I got married. I did, however, get married, which lots of activists refuse to do since marriage is a heterosexist institution. So even though I try to make politically responsible decisions, my politics don't always line up with my personal life.

My point is that it's not my job to police other people's decisions, to say, "Don't wear butt shorts! Don't change your name!"--even though I would sometimes like to. It is my job to ask what factors in our culture are still encouraging 90% of women to change their names when they get married, and why marriage is still a heterosexist institution. The trick is to challenge the larger culture without attacking individuals whose decisions may not align with the changes I hope to see.

I love what Emi Koyama says (in Catching a Wave--go buy your copy right now!): "It is not contradictory to fight against the institutional enforcement of rigid gender roles while simultaneously advocating for individuals' rights to choose how they live in order to feel safe and comfortable....None of us should be expected to reject every oppressive factor in our lives at the same time; it would burn us out and drive us crazy."


Trey said...

What do you recommend the children's last name be if the parents have different last names? If it were the cultural norm to hyphenate childrens' names, then before too many generations, we'd end up with a horrible mess of huge last names.

However, I think the argument for keeping one name for easier record keeping (genealogy) probably doesn't matter, since data storage and reference is only going to get easier from here on out.

Walter said...


that's why alison and me and all other thoughtful people have decided that all childern should have the collective last name of "schpoo" until they are old enough to decide on their own what their last name should be.

Alison said...

I like Walter's answer better, but my real answer is that we'll figure out a way to deal with it. Potential confusion isn't a good enough reason not to change an outmoded tradition.

If Walter and I have kids, we'll probably alternate last names.

Cate Bush said...

Love the rants, love the insights, love the Alison.

:) C

Anonymous said...

The good Lord will hopefully make you infertile. Women's bodies were designed by God to give babies, and your wicked perversions leave no room for them to be raised with love and compassion. But there is still hope. REPENT FROM YOUR WICKED THOUGHTS AND WAYS AND BE SAVED!

christiemckaskle said...

Okay, now I HAVE to ask. Is this somebody's idea of a joke?

Anonymous said...


Kenneth said...

Your bravely anonymous critics have done themselves proud with these contributions.

christiemckaskle said...

I'll take that as a "Yes."