Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Father on Top

It isn't called the patriarchy for nothing.

My regular readers might remember my recent post "The Groom on Top," where I discussed how the groom's name always appears on top of the bride's in the marriage license. Today, I discovered an even more galling fact of a similar nature. In the papers of admission to the maternity ward**, signed by women who are about to give birth, the baby's father also signs his name on top of the mother's - every single time! Even in the process of giving birth, which is one thing that men definitely cannot do, women are still less important.

Taking into the account that women who are single mothers check into the hospital with no male company at all, this strategy of signalling male importance in the situation where men are definitely less relevant and often completely absent, is profoundly sexist. It's like there is absolutely nothing whatsoever that a woman can do in order to be deemed important.

** Do not worry, my friends, I am not giving birth.  I was accompanying somebody else to the maternity ward.


lvm said...

This reminds me of something I have noticed on many online forms: The gender menu is the only one not ordered alphabetically, and instead lists Male before Female.

Other option menus, like the selection for what state you live in, will be ordered alphabetically.

But the menu for gender selection almost always look like this:


Anonymous said...

Never paid attention to it, and after your publication has specially looked birth certificates: mine and daughters (the old sample) and the son (the new sample). Surprisingly, but in all three documents record about the father is located above record about mother. In Russia a similar situation. But on the other hand, if records to change in places the father will appear less significant, and their number the document format does not allow to arrange. So that in any case will not turn out equalities.

I ask a pardon for my English, very much I hope that you will understand my text.

Yours faithfully, Natalia Varshavskaja

V said...

One could arrange mother and father data side by side, as in two columns of the table... But then again, somebody could question why one is to the left (or right) and not the other way around.
Another possibility would be to create the form to be filled anew on every instance using random number generator.

Clarissa said...

It's very nice to have you here, Natalia. And your English is very good. I hope to see more of your comments in the future. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Clarissa, for warm words. My comment - a symbol of my victory over the computer. I tried to write month, but it was impossible to me, at last I could make it. And thanks for a compliment about my English/

Yours faithfully, NataliaV

Anonymous said...

Another interesting note is that when the mother and father are not married, the father must affirm his paternity on the birth certificate (or an associated document, it's been 5 years and that day was a bit of a fog...) but the attestation can be revoked within 6 months (it used to be only 60 days, but I guess that wasn't long enough??). And, particularly in this day of IVF, donor eggs, same sex couplings, it seems pretty dense to maintain the same old, same old. Someone needs to update these forms!

V said...

Estonian birth certificates (from the post-Soviet times) are also patriarchal...

Clarissa said...

It seems like the men who came up with it might be trying to deal with the daunting reality that paternity can always be in question. :-)