WTF Fun Fact 13556 – Quebec’s Civil Code

Since 1981, Section 393 of Quebec’s Civil Code has forbidden women from legally taking their husbands’ surnames post-marriage.

Quebec established the law to combat societal pressure on women and to promote gender equality. However, not all women agree with the law and some find it restricting.

With this law, a woman’s maiden name remains her legal name after marriage, and she cannot change it without the authorization of the court—which isn’t an easy task.

A married couple may hyphenate each other’s surnames, and women can call themselves whatever name they’d like in an unofficial capacity. But only their birth name is legally recognized by law.

Quebec’s Civil Code Intent and Reception

The law’s primary intent was to protect women from societal pressures and ensure their freedom. However, as Dubé notes, it’s a delicate balance between protecting and improving freedom. Exceptions to the law exist, but they are rare and only apply in extreme cases. This rigidity applies even to Canadian women who relocate to Quebec after marrying in other provinces.

Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, Canada’s de facto first lady, recently used a hyphenated version of her name, igniting a discussion on this topic. Despite the legal stipulations, she chooses to use both her maiden name and her husband’s surname, symbolizing her personal identity and partnership.

For many Quebec women retaining their birth names may be a significant aspect of their cultural identity. This practice signifies autonomy and self-belonging.

Cultural Shifts and Modern Perspectives

Over the years, Quebec’s approach to married names has influenced cultural norms, including the trend of parents giving children two last names. While this was popular for a time after the 1981 law, its prevalence has decreased. The law’s existence remains a crucial part of Quebec’s identity, reflecting the province’s commitment to gender equality and individual autonomy.

In the broader context, Quebec’s approach to married names remains a unique case, raising important questions about personal freedom, cultural norms, and the evolving nature of marriage and identity in modern society.

As discussions around these issues continue, it becomes evident that the choice of a name, far from being a mere formality, is deeply rooted in notions of identity, tradition, and personal freedom. Perhaps Quebec’s Civil Code will be changed to allow more women freedom over their names in the future.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Does Quebec’s ban on married names infringe on women’s rights?” — Global News

WTF Fun Facts 13174 – Beaver College Name Change

In 2001, Beaver College changed its name to Arcadia College because it found the original name appealed to 30% fewer prospective students. But the Beaver College name change was also the result of the rise of search engines. Web filters intended to screen out explicit material blocked access to their website, categorizing it as pornographic.

The Beaver College name change

In 2000, Beaver College threw a pajama party for students and used the occasion to announce that the school’s name would be changed the following year. The new name – Arcadia University.

The small women’s college was founded in 1853 in western Pennsylvania’s Beaver County. However, it moved outside of Philadelphia in 1925. So the name was no longer accurate. However, that’s not the real reason behind the Beaver College name change.

According to ABC News (cited below), then-President Bette E. Landman said in a letter that the old name “too often elicits ridicule in the form of derogatory remarks pertaining to the rodent, the TV show Leave It to Beaver and the vulgar reference to the female anatomy.”

Honestly, we doubt Leave it to Beaver jokes were the real motivator there.

There were two significant problems with the name. First, “The college’s own research shows the school appeals to 30 percent fewer prospective students solely because of the name,” according to ABC News. “And the problems worsened with the rise of the Internet, since some Web filters intended to screen out sexually explicit material blocked access to the Beaver College Web site.”

What’s in a name?

The small school sent out surveys about the name change to 20,000 alums, students, parents, faculty, and staff in the hopes of finding a new name (after they had narrowed it down to six choices).

College spokesman Bill Avington said at the time that Arcadia “seems to be a perfect name,” harkening back to a region of ancient Greece known for its centers of learning.

And they did their research before making the final decision, ensuring there were no dirty jokes to be made. Avington said: “We tried to go through every scenario. We’ve looked pretty carefully at it.”

Beaver College’s name change became official on July 16, 2001.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Beaver College Announces New Name” — ABC News

WTF Fun Fact 12979 – The Longest Name in New Zealand

New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs’ (DIA) sets a 100-character limit when it comes to people’s names. But that doesn’t fully explain the longest name in New Zealand, which belongs to a man named Full Metal Havok More Sexy N Intelligent Than Spock And All The Superheroes Combined With Frostnova.

How did he get the longest name in New Zealand?

The man wasn’t born with this name. In fact, he lost a bet five years earlier.

According to the NZ Herald (cited below), “A message on an online body building forum, written by someone describing themselves as a friend of the man, said the name change was the result of a lost poker bet and the man realized his drunken consequences only when his passport expired.”

Making it official

Apparently not one to backtrack on a bet, Mr. Frostnova registered his name change in 2010, which was confirmed by DIA Births Deaths and Marriages spokesman Michael Mead. It does sound like he was a bit too inebriated after the poker match he lost to remember precisely what he did, however. It was only when he applied for a new passport that he realized the name had been accepted and was now legal (though he was welcome to change it).

“The name met the requirements of naming rules and the applicant paid the fee and completed the form correctly, he said. Mr Frostnova could change his name again any time by completing the form correctly and paying the $127 fee, Mr Mead said. The process takes around eight days.”

There was no reason for the government to try to stop him since the DIA says names are only rejected in cases where they might “cause offense to a reasonable person, are unreasonably long, or without adequate justification include or resemble an official title or rank.”

However, in 2008, a Family Court Judge named Rob Murfitt did take issue with the name of a child and “publicly criticized some parents’ choice of names after he ordered that a girl named Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii be taken into court custody so she could change her name.”

In New Zealand, names can not include numbers or symbols. Therefore, some “rejected names in recent years include Majesty, King, Knight, Princess, Justice, Anal, V8, 89, Mafia No Fear, Lucifer, full stop and *.”  WTF fun facts

Source: “Dunedin man’s 99-character name” — New Zealand Herald