I rented Hot Tub Time Machine last night. Not an award winner, but I enjoyed it. Having laughed my way through it, there was still one element of the plot that irked me. I realise that picking apart a made-for-guys comedy isn’t exactly worth it, but I’d like to bring it up nonetheless.
One of the characters in the movie, Nick, is a whipped and emasculated husband who can’t imagine his world without his cheating wife. His friends constantly make fun of him for being “her little bitch”. At one point, even though he tries to hide it from his friends, we find out that Nick has hyphenated his last name with his wife’s.
When everyone overhears it, they make fun of him for being a bigger “pussy” than before. They bring it up two more times, questioning how he could have let it happen. In the end, Nick gets his name back, which I guess is supposed to signify that he got himself back.
As someone who took my husband’s last name (except professionally), this grated me. I can’t understand why a woman should take a man’s last name and be happy about it, but a man shouldn’t take a woman’s name because it’s demeaning. What does this say about the perceived worth of a woman’s identity versus a man’s?
It’s funny to me that a father’s last name is strong and honourable, but as soon as the name belongs to his daughter, it somehow weakens, and her husband would have to be a poor excuse for a man to take it as his own. To me, the message is clear: it’s not the name that became weak; the weakness lies within the person to whom the name was given.
This is another example of tradition preventing people from thinking critically. We just do things, because that’s how they’ve been done. Never mind that by the time most women get married, they have had their name for two-plus decades and have accomplished many things under that name. Never mind that actually changing a name is a pain in the ass (which is why I think most divorced women keep their ex’s name). Never mind that a husband’s last name might just suck compared to the wife’s. (Not to knock Sorlie or anything, Dad, but mom’s maiden name, Moore, was rad.)
I’m not saying women shouldn’t take men’s names. I’m also not advocating for worldwide hyphenation, because, really, it’s a slippery slope. I am, however, encouraging that we develop an open mind surrounding the topic.