Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A matter of convenience

 In following the branches of the family tree one encounters many twists and turns. The same blood flows throughout those branches. It is easy enough to follow with the man , as their name has been traditionally carried down. With the ladies it is not quite so clear. Maiden names are often lost to time. That is true today, although I would say things are documented better today and that information more accessible. Before all this social security and government tracking of us a marriage record was the best method to determine that. In fact, the only way that was legally provable. Even in that, we relied upon the honesty of the Pastor for our " bona-fides. " There were no official government stamps or notaries. Signatures upon a paper as witness often sufficed. Paternity was established by the " say so " of the father. No testing existed to disprove false accusations or confirm those same accusations. It is not lost on me that the most compelling evidence of past births and paternities were those written in the family Bible. It was proof positive for many years, upheld in a court of law as being the truth. After all no one would record a lie in the Bible ! That in itself speaks volumes about our society and the Christian tradition. We still swear upon that Bible to " tell the truth " so help me God.
 A strange thing about all this is that the blood appears to stop with the name. That is to say, if a man has no male heirs the line ends with him. That is the way it has been viewed throughout most of history. At least in Europe and the New World it has. I can't speak for every culture and I'm sure there are exceptions. I wonder why that should be so. In todays world we would just blame it on male chauvinism. Is that the case ? If so how has that tradition managed to survive for hundreds of years and so many generations ? Now I know it didn't count when it came to Kings and Queens, the royal order. A female may assume the throne. Is that really related to the blood or is it a means of retaining power ? When it comes to royalty; paternity is everything. Why should that not be so with the " commoners ? " The blood of the father flows through the veins of his daughters as well as his sons. How is it we allow that blood, that name, to get lost ?
 That is changing somewhat with this hyphenated name thing. There are many that find that strange and some find it insulting. Is it a sign of too much " independence " for a lady to wish to retain her maiden name ? Does that represent a less than 100% commitment to the husband ? I mean, should she subjugate herself to her mate ? Hasn't that been the traditional view ? Recently a book and movie portraying just that was widely popular. Fifty shades of Grey was the title. It is a fantasy piece isn't it ? Or does it really portray what every woman wants ? Oh, I can get myself in big trouble for that line, can't I ? The alpha man would agree with that assessment. Are we trying to marginalize the alpha male in society today and replace him with one more docile ?
 I expect this whole name thing came about merely as a matter of convenience. One person has to change their name to identify with another. The male of the species traditionally was the main provider. He was the hunter/gatherer. The very basic necessities of life were his responsibility. Food and shelter is his job. So did the woman change their name because they were conquered, or did they just agree to the practical nature of that arrangement. Perhaps it was pride that motivated that. The woman being proud of her man ! Sounds right to me. Again, I may be getting myself in deep water here, hope I don't drown. But why should a mans' female heirs be less important ? Doesn't every man want a son. A son to carry the name forward throughout history. A woman would only do that if her father were one of two things, rich or famous. Perhaps that explains that. Us commoners are neither, and so it is of no importance. Could that explain the disappointment a man feels without sons ? Is that something that has been taught to us, or is it instinctive ? Given the history, as we know it, I think it is the later. A man just naturally wants sons. His sons are his life carried forward. The son becomes the father, on and on, generation after generation. A son may carry some of the accomplishments of the father, adding them to his own. Do we not take pride in our fathers ? Conversely do not the ladies take pride in their mothers. She instinctively wishes to emulate her. Mother took the name of her husbands' family and so should I. It is what is expected. But I see all of this changing today. Our roles are not as easily defined. It does contribute to the confusion. What was adopted, as a matter of convenience, has become a stumbling block. A gesture of mutual respect turned into an insult ?
 As a person with an interest in genealogy I find the whole thing quite frustrating. Attempting to identify my female ancestors is the biggest challenge. Where no records can be found it is impossible. Even in those cases when the female is identified as say, Mary Smith, the identity of her parents may not be recorded. Maiden names are the bane of the genealogist. They are anything but convenient. Just another one of those little ironies in life.