January 20, 2005

French names.

We tend to think of the French as being to the left of us, but they are surprisingly reactionary about some things. They've just gotten around to freeing parents from the obligation to give babies the father's last name:
A "societal disruption," another proof that fathers are being forced "to renounce one by one the attributes of what used to be called their familial power," complained an editorial in Le Figaro, the center-right daily.

"This reform - we decree it silliness without a name," said a right-wing Roman Catholic newspaper, La Croix, in an editorial, calling the change a boon for genealogists, a nightmare for notaries.
Quite aside from the lack of interest in equal rights for women, France had been in violation of human rights requirements laid down by the Council of Europe in 1978.

And then there's the new law itself. Somehow, it took 26 pages of statutory text to remove the old obligation and 100 additional pages to explain the details of how to apply the law.

There's still something in it for reactionaries:
Paradoxically, the reform reinforces the spirit of patriarchy, or at least tradition. Aristocratic families that have produced only female offspring no longer will have to watch helplessly as their names die out.

At the Robert Debré hospital in Paris, 29-year-old Hélène de La Porte des Vaux and Nicolas Dudouet, a 33-year-old journalist, plan to give their soon-to-be-born baby girl both of their names - to preserve Ms. de La Porte des Vaux's chic name.

No comments: