How do you Name a Woman?

Does it bother you to hear an adult man call his wife “Mother”, “MaMa” or other words similar? How about people who call themselves their pet’s “Mother”, “Daddy”, etc.?

Names are our identity/ identification. Names are how other people view us. I do think it is a bit odd when people refer to another person by their role – especially when it isn’t the role they have for the person who spoke. (Or that whole being your dog’s Mother thing, that just annoys me, personally).

My Dad used to refer to our Mom as “your Mother”. I haven’t thought of it for years. But, someone else I happened to mention it to found it very odd, they didn’t like it.

Other people don’t like hearing a husband refer to his wife as “Mother”. Does it help to think it is the short form for the Mother of his children? I’m sure that’s how it is intended but it does always sound as if he is calling his wife his Mother. What does he call his real Mother? Maybe “Grandma”?

Today in the Arab world, there is a custom still in place to not speak a woman’s name in public after she becomes a mother. In her 2011 book Gender, Sexuality, and Meaning: Linguistic Practice and Politics, linguistics professor Sally McConnell-Ginet wrote about how in some historical periods in China, women were only referred to by “relational forms,” names like “oldest sister” or “Lee’s wife,” while men were more often referred to by their individual names. These might sound odd to our modern ear, but chances are most of us have witnessed something similar in our lifetime.

Source: The Rise of ‘Mama’ : Longreads Blog

I found this, part of a long post about the use of the word “Mama”. However, the idea that a Mother loses her name was more interesting to me. When a woman marries she (still usually) changes her last name. She loses her family identity – or exchanges it for a new family identity. Then she has children and loses even her own personal identity as an individual. From then on she becomes a role, not an individual. Isn’t that like a nun too? They are referred to as “Mother Someone”, “Sister Someone”.

Without getting feminist about it, I wonder why or how our culture evolved to take away a woman’s name? It’s really interesting to think about. Not so much about laws, rights, fairness, equality, etc. But, just the fact of it.

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