Why Do We Evolve So Slow?

Why Do We Evolve So Slow?

Human behavior has always been of interest to me.  I originally went to college seeking a degree in psychology.  A psychoanalyst friend talked me out of my pursuit.  He said the market for psychology was a dying one due to over saturation of psychology grads.  I changed my major to computers, but never lost that interest in human behavior.

One topic that I’ve found myself pondering often is, why do we evolve so slow?  When we are aware of a behavior that is non-productive,  nefarious or generally immoral, why do humans take so long to alter the behavior, or drop the behavior?

Case in point:  A friend of mine was married the other day.  She is very proud of her new name.  Everything from her, nay, I should say their, checkbook, to the thank you notes they had printed up and sent out to wedding attendee’s, reflected the high-note of their common name.

When I asked, “Why would you change your name?”  “Well, because I got married.”  was her reply.  “Because you got married?  This is a reason to change your name?”  Her last name is/was way cooler sounding than his.  For privacy sack let’s say her last name is/was Drake.  And his last name is Blowman.  Would you want to be a Drake, or a Blowman?  I know I’d rather be Mr. & Mrs. Drake rather than Mr. & Mrs. Blowman.  But due to her belief in following tradition she is now a Blowman.

Tradition of old dictates that when a woman marries she takes her husbands name.  Not vice versa.  I think if all women were made aware of where this tradition sprang from they might have second thoughts on embracing it!

In this situation, tradition is based on an old, outdated custom of owning a woman. If my friend is using tradition in that sense (as well as the majority of married women in America) then slavery was a tradition, right?  Until we realized it’s morally wrong to enslave our fellow human!  Even then many people didn’t want to give up their tradition!  It took years to put that huge mistake right. This is what has me pondering; Why did it take so long?

“Take his name” .  That’s what you may hear a bride say.  I see that phrase only as a means to soften the blow to a woman’s psyche of what is really going on, she is being purchased!  Woman believe they are taking their husbands name in a display of honor or respect for him.  When in reality, she doesn’t “take his name”.   It all stems from long ago when her betrothed purchased her from her father.  He owns her now, so she must use his name.  You can’t say that to a woman of the millennium it’s inappropriate to tell her she is owned by him.  But telling her she is taking his name is a much softer blow, almost as if she is in charge of the matter (Which she is now-a-days).

I liken it to purchasing a dog (Yep, I’m comparing women that take their husbands name to purchasing a dog.)  Let’s imagine for a minute that a Farmer with the last name Smith has a dog named Bowser.  So the dog is Bowser Smith.  Your family, the Millers, buys, trades, or acquires, Bowser from Farmer Smith.  When you take Bowser to the Veterinarian, what do you tell them the dogs full name is?  Bowser Smith?  Because that was his name when he lived with Farmer Smith.  Or, do you automatically attach your own last name to the dog?  “His name is Bowser Miller.”  With your own pet, what is its last name?  It’s your last name isn’t it?  Because you own the dog now, so he goes by your last name.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  Who else has been purchased so she must take her husbands last name?

Way back when, that’s exactly what marriage was, a purchase.  Sometimes it was a political strategy; investing a daughter to obtain a political position or stature.   That’s why there is that other tradition of asking the bride’s father if you can marry her, because he owns her.   A man just can’t walk away with another man’s property, so he asks the father if he can purchase, or for a nicer word, marry, his daughter.  Often it was the fathers duty to find a husband for his daughter.  The woman would come with a dowry, or bride price.  When they tie the knot, she now belongs to another man so she uses his last name.  If that isn’t interesting enough, in Rome, the father continued to have primary control of the daughter, even after she married!  The father could trump the husband in decision making in their home.  That “tradition” dropped off after just a handful of years, but for many, it was their tradition.

That was long, long, ago!  Yet, woman still assume their husbands name as if they have been purchased here in America in the millennium.

What makes us evolve so slowly in the face of these traditions that are derogatory?  My theory is because woman have always been treated as the lesser of men.  To make a change a few woman with a strong conviction start a change. They throw caution to the wind and step up to the plate of change and initiate it.  The rest of the population watch this woman create change.  They watch this change over time, often for many years, to see if that woman falls or falters because of the change.  If the woman is persecuted, or is persecuted yet comes out unscathed, then, another woman steps up to that plate of change and give it a try, and another and another.  While some, too afraid of change, or what it might bring, continue to embrace the old tradition, even when they know it is wrong.  And then there are those women that are just plain ignorant on a subject even when it is derogatory to them.

In my own observations I have noticed woman find a certain sense of security by taking their husbands name.  They drop their maiden name (maiden name as of old) and hide behind their husbands name.  Protected in a sense by the buffer of his name protecting her.  She becomes almost a second opinion to his, and she enjoys this protection.

This can’t be the underlying reason so many women still take a man’s name…can it?  This subject begs for a census of the female population to determine how many women know the true meaning of why they take their husbands name upon marriage.  Even more interesting would be how many men realize the reason?!  I  put my money on the men know very well why his bride takes his name, they just aren’t saying anything.  I believe there is an underlying connotation among people when a woman marries and takes her husbands name.  We just don’t talk about it.  It’s the elephant in the room everyone ignores.

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