Sometimes life imitates The Onion.
Pity Lindy West. She’s a feminist who wants to get married and to take her future husband’s name.
This is tormenting her, first, because it is not the feministically correct thing to do and, second, because her current boyfriend would never allow it.
In West’s words:
However, here's where this gets complicated—here's why "tradition" is an insidious concept and why feminism is a beautifully nuanced discipline—I, Lindy West, despite all of the above, personally find the idea of taking my future husband's name kind of...romantic. I would probably do it if he would let me (doubtful, though—my current boyfriend takes a way more hardline feminist stance on this than I do). The thought of taking the right person's name doesn't feel mandatory, but it does feel good. Even though I know, intellectually, the shitty implications of becoming Mrs. Husband, I love the idea of becoming one family with one name. … And anyway, even if I could, I’m not sure that I want to escape the instinct to mould my future family into the shape of the family I came from. No amount of critical thinking about our warped, oppressive system can change the fact that I grew up in it and feel its pull in my cells. I do want to be like my parents. I just want to do it on my terms.
I’m not sure that this makes feminism seem more nuanced. I am sure that feminism is not a discipline.
West is telling us that she would like to get married, but that her feminism is confusing her.
According to feminist ideology taking a man’s name makes a woman his property. And yet, taking his name, West correctly observes, has a logic of its own. A family where husband and wife and children all have the same name feels a bit more united than a family where one member has a different name. It may have been associated with objectionable practices but the custom has a logic that surpasses patriarchal possession.
Feminist West has developed a relationship with a male feminist—aka an oxymoron—and tells us that said male feminist would, if he were to marry her, refuse to allow her to take his name.
I suppose that this explains why some men become feminists. They can impose their will on their mates with impunity. Keep in mind: West's article says that men who insist that a woman change her name make bad husbands. What about men who insist that a woman not change her name?
Oppression by any other name would smell as rancid.
Feminism creates unnecessary difficulties. Call it nuance, if you like. It’s the price of trying to make your life conform to an ideology.
James Taranto summed up the feminist dilemma well:
The preferred feminist convention is for the woman to continue using her father's name as a statement against patriarchy.
Now you know why the sisterhood is confounding.