In Brief—Why does the woman take her husband’s name at marriage? Why marriage? Why are religious leaders always given respect? Why are felons denied the vote? These and other questions are important, but they go unchallenged. The author addresses these questions.
Logical or Illogical? Useful or Useless?—
Amy marries DeShawn and takes his family name (surname). Tradition or because she dislikes her family name? Alternatively, Amy places a hyphen between her surname and DeShawn’s. Is she modern and at least partly feminist? Or Amy retains her surname and DeShawn keeps his. Which is correct? Are there more possibilities? Why?
[Note: Readers who reacted to the names of the couple above need examine their racial attitude.]
Here in Sweden married partners have a choice: 1) The woman can take her husband’s surname. 2) The husband can take the wife’s surname. 3) Each partner can retain her/his family surname. 4) Both partners can choose a wholly different surname. Exceptions are that a hyphenated surname is unacceptable as are surnames intended to defraud, are silly or profane.
Here in Sweden, my wife has kept her family name. No problem. In America, however, the different last names have caused confusion or outright rejection. My sister even questioned whether we were married.
Since this is aimed at Americans, the overwhelming tradition is for a woman to take her husband’s surname. Increasingly but still infrequent, the woman maintains her family surname followed by a hyphen and the husband’s family surname. A few keep their own family surname. In every case, a name change may not be permitted to defraud or to change to a silly or profane surname.
Barring the exceptions mentioned and whether heterosexual or same-sex partners are involved, I see no logical reason to adhere to tradition. If both partners are happy with their family surname, why make a change? In short, freedom of choice is preferable regardless of what tradition dictates.
Is Marriage Even Necessary?—
We have so far considered marriage as the reason for change. What is the logic requiring marriage? Is marriage even necessary?
As I have stated before, marriage is simply a contract. This being the case and as long as the marriage contract is registered with the government entity, the signers of the contract must be free to solemnize it religiously. Should a serious rupture occur, the contract can be dissolved using simple contract procedures.
Should the contract be limited to two individuals? There is no logical reason why just two people can make such a contract. Why not three or more? Beyond governmental registration, all that is needed is that the contracting parties are of sufficient age, mentally competent and free of coercion
Of course, all laws, including tax laws, will have to be changed to reflect reality. Many religionists, Republicans and traditionalists will squeal like pigs, but they are the Neanderthals of 21st century reality. We are talking logic here. Defenders of tradition are being illogical.
Deference to Religious Leaders—
Why are all religious leaders given deference and respect regardless of their behavior? What difference does one’s religion make? It makes more sense to treat them the same as any other person is treated.
Does being in prison have anything at all to do with voting? Logic dictates that being convicted of a crime does not mean that such a person does not have at least as much interest in voting as someone who has not been convicted of a crime. All the states except Maine and Vermont deny felons the vote. At least as appalling, statistics show that between 5% and 10% of individuals in prison are innocent of the crime for which they’ve been convicted.
What of those who are probationers or on parole or have otherwise completed their time behind bars? Logic dictates that such individuals should be allowed to vote, but thirty to thirty-five states deny parolees the vote. A shocking eleven states deny the vote for lifetime to anybody who has done time even though they have “paid their debt to society.”
Religious Instruction in School—
We live in a world where religions are a part of everyday life. Why should children learn about only one or two when our ever-shrinking world is filled with dozens, maybe hundreds, of other belief systems including agnosticism and atheism?
Logic requires that children learn something about the many belief systems out there. We expect our children to learn something about world history or other cultures so they will be prepared for the future. Isn’t something as important as religion an integral part of those cultures?
Following that logic, all schools—including sectarian schools—have a duty to teach children unbiased information about all religions in order to prepare them for the future and their roles in guiding humanity. The key here is that all religions or none must be taught in an unbiased way.
I have raised questions about the logic—and illogic— that governs society. These are just a few of the important questions that must be addressed. Universal voting registration at birth is merely one example of an important question.
Readers no doubt have other important issues that must be addressed in order to avoid becoming captive to tradition that anchors us to outdated or harmful beliefs.
Let’s face the future free of the restraints placed on us by tradition and illogic. What are some of those questions that require addressing?