A friend who took his wife’s surname (yay!) sent me this piece of drek parading as science. On the one hand, I hesitate to even dignify it with a response. On the other, just in case anyone out there is looking to validate their giving their kid hizzer father’s surname, I felt that Goddess has called me to disabuse any such individual of that notion.
So this piece comes from a site called BigThink, which seems to be a forum for science-based arguments for…well, lots of stuff. I admit to not being even a little bit tempted to extend my visit beyond printing the piece out and getting the heck out of there.
Its premise is that aside from a few species (the others being avian), humans are the only ones whose males invest in the upkeep of their young, so therefore they’re insecure about their paternity, not wanting to support some other guy’s young by mistake. So in order to convince human dads to invest in their young, we must give our young their dads' surnames, which will assuage their dads' (collective unconscious?) fears that the young they’re upkeeping aren’t actually theirs.
The piece concludes by claiming that 1) A system wherein children take their mothers’ surnames is doomed to extinction evolutionarily speaking, as in such a system, the males will not feel compelled to look after their young; and 2) Therefore, “most known human cultures practice patrilineal inheritance of surnames.”
While that last one may be numerically true (how does one count cultures?), I doubt it’s the case on a per capita basis. The members of the Chinese and Hispanic cultures alone probably exceed half the world’s population, not to mention other cultures with which I’m not familiar. As for the first claim above, here’s the conversation with my husband:
Me: Uh, I don’t even know where to start. How about now we have this thing called DNA testing?
Husband: How about now we have this thing called civilization?!
Hmm. Can’t argue with that.