One of my spouse’s college friends, a het woman, married a het guy who took her name. It has been years, but his mother is still bitter. I thought of it because it came up in Jessica Valenti’s new book, He’s A Stud, She’s A Slut, which I am in the middle of.
There are not many, but it happens. I could do research, but that would be hard. I’d rather let the hive-mind do it for me.
One comes readily to mind:
Jack White, who was born Gillis, and married Meg White, divorced, and pretended they were siblings until the Detroit Free Press found the paper trail. On the minus side, he’s nuts. On the plus side, he’s brilliant. (On could say the same about famous-in-Canada fiddle player Ashley MacIsaac, who is Jack White’s cousin. And who is married, but did not take his spouse’s name. And BTW, I’m not ignoring MacIsaac’s history of saying racist things and then saying he was being ironic — he’s done it and I don’t know if he’s tripped over a clue since then or not, but I won’t pretend it didn’t happen.)
I know of no list, but we can make one here.
Ashley MacIsaac had his say in comments, and I think I should be entirely fair to him. I tossed off an aside about Jack White’s connection to a Canadian fiddle master with a reputation for courting controversy. However, I didn’t feel that I could let it pass without comment that MacIsaac has said things which some folks in the past interpreted as racist. I said above that he has said these comments were irony, and he repeats that below. I had one reported incident in mind: MacIsaac’s May 1, 2003 concert. The Ottowa Citizen reported that he made remarks about an Asian woman in the audience spreading SARS. MacIsaac sued the Citizen; I don’t know the outcome. He maintains (and as far as I know, has always said) that he meant to be ironic. I wasn’t there and I have never seen a verbatim account of what he said.
I’m not assuming that MacIsaac intended anything other than he says. If my remarks above read that way, that was my error. However, the discussion of racism in the feminist blogosphere has underscored that intent is not the only question. People may say things meaning to be ironic or antiracist that are counterproductive. In a world full of racism, and in the middle of a publicity storm about SARS, it’s awfully tough for a white man to pull off a reference to an Asian woman having SARS and have the audience get the ironic intent, have it not feel for some folks like they’ve been punched in the gut. I don’t know what MacIsaac’s audience members thought, but if a friend of mine said he was going to try to pull that off, I’d say, “don’t do it, it’s bound to be a disaster.”
So, unless the comment was completely different from the reporting, I think it was a bad and mistaken shot at irony, one he should not have taken. When I said above that I don’t know if he had “tripped over a clue” since, I didn’t mean a conversion from hate to non-hate; I never had reason to believe he was a hateful person. I meant a realization that that kind of ironic approach generally doesn’t work well, that the remark generally has a negative immediate impact and that explaining the irony later does not undo all or some of the damage.
As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And sometimes with ironic remarks about racism that have the effect of unironic remarks about racism; the strong position of a lot of people I respect (and I confess I can’t find a link to what I’m looking for now, but it has been said over and over), is that saying something racist by screwing up is still saying something racist. And that’s something I hear from people who have to live with the impact, not the intent. So that’s my view.