Posted 10 марта 07:49

Published 10 марта 07:49

Modified 10 марта 10:32

Updated 10 марта 10:32

Patronymics or matrinymics: Will the name of the mother help to get rid of the horrors of patriarchy?

10 марта 2023, 07:49
On social networks, users again suggest giving newborns not only patronymics, but also matrinymics.

A funny discussion broke out on Russian social networks after the celebration on March 8. Moreover, it has nothing to do with feminism, and two respected bloggers started it without collusion at once. So, the legendary radio host Seva Novgorodtsev writes:

"We will look at any person in the passport. Last name, first name, patronymic. Why patronymic? Why is preference given to the father, the man? After all, the mother of the child gave birth, nursed and most often brought up. And what is the memory of her in the documents? Yes, there is no any.

It turns out that when the woman got married, she lost her last name and did not give her name to the child.

But how euphonious it would be: Ivan Natalyevich, Pyotr Lyudmilovich, Rostislav Tatiana. Therefore, I make a proposal — a new law on "matrinymics" (by analogy with "patronymic") to begin with, at least for single mothers.

And while the law is being considered, urgently approve new male names — Lyudmila, Catherine, Tatiana..."

Ancient Russia also did not disdain matrinymics

Novgorodtsev is echoed in his blog by the famous culturologist Mikhail Epstein, who brings a philosophical basis for this problem:


"Seeing now the consequences of patriarchy in its worst manifestations, one can dream that a woman, for example, Elena Petrovna, will one day become the president of the country. But no less significant symbol of the new society would be a male president named Pyotr Yelenovich... I understand how much in our upbringing and habits is opposed to matrinymics (cf. patronymic). But it should be realized: it is in us that opposes this idea, and there is a psychological legacy of patriarchy, entered into the flesh and blood of linguistic customs ..."

Epstein recalls that in fact, matronyms play an important role among different peoples, for example, in Indonesia, Ireland, Iceland and Finland…

Moreover, matronyms were also found in Ancient Russia – for example, Prince Oleg Nastasich in the 12th century. 

In modern America, sometimes an infant is given his mother's maiden name as a middle name, so that her family is also stored in the memory of posterity.

It happens that husbands, when marrying, add as their middle name - the surname of their wife, thus symbolically exchanging names with her. For example, if Mary Reed marries Jack Smith, then she becomes Mary Smith, and he becomes Jack Reed Smith.

Creativity of Alexander Nadezhdovich Pushkin will be opened to us in a new way

That is, there is nothing unusual in this process, says Epstein, and I am sure that if you follow him, "there would be a game of close and distant root meanings, the mystery of the conception of each person from male and female would be felt.

And if Daniil Andreev is right that not only a woman should be masculine, but also a man feminine, then here it is - this symbolic manifestation of the feminine in a man: mother's name, matronym. (...) A male name in conjunction with a female one forms a kind of symbolic completeness, fusion, self-sufficiency, whereas twice a male name is marked by being inferiority and can push to violence against being, to ontocide..."

The author believes that in this way, something new will open up in a person who is still familiar only by name and patronymic, this Olgovich, or Verovich, or Anastasievich will become closer, closer, homely, since it is to the mother's name that the first linguistic experience of any person, his verbal sense of personality, is molded: "This name testifies about the historical, cultural roots of the individual, carries the memory of saints, ancestors, ascetics and martyrs, heroines of sacred history, about those higher meanings that should be passed down from generation to generation..."

However, there should be no general rule in this process, the author believes. And in relation to himself personally, Mikhail Naumovich-Maryevich Epstein offers this option: "With such a name, I would feel more fully involved in the being that was granted to me by my parents and the fate that united them..."

However, in each specific case, a person who has reached the age of majority will be able to choose for himself the options of "patronymic-matrinymics", in any combination. And in the final he lists Russian celebrities whose names would play in a new way: Mikhail Varvarovich Bulgakov, Nikolai Gogol, Vladimir Yelenovich Nabokov, Alexander Nadezhdovich Pushkin, Alexander Taisiyevich Solzhenitsyn…

It is necessary not to introduce matrinymics, but to get rid of patronymics completely!

However, readers of both authors reacted to this idea in different ways.

For example, Anton Morkovin accepted her with a bang: "I totally agree! In modern Russia, the father must try hard to make his role comparable to the mother's. So mandatory patronymics are an outright anachronism. The only thing I prefer is the option "matrinymics", with a soft sign (these are the peculiarities of Russian language - editor's note), since "matrinymics" is associated more with the material part...

But Olga Proskurina doubts that such a thing is possible in modern Russia: "I think that if desired, without any law, a woman can give her child both her patronymic and her surname. But it's another matter whether peers will then laugh at the child when they find out that he has a female patronymic and whether this will cause him psychological trauma, and whether he will have to change his patronymic again so as not to stand out..."

Alexey Tsvelik is not at all sure that matrinymic is able to soften morals:

"What makes you think that a female presence will soften something? If you don't even go into modern history, then you can read at least the Roman one and remember the wife of Augustus and the mother of Nero. The list goes on... "At least call it a pot, but don't put it in the oven." By the way, hereditary information is transmitted not only from dad and mom, as it was established several decades ago, even the Nobel Prize was given for it... So if you remember the ancestors, then you need to substitute some kind of bacterium or even a virus... In a word, all this is nonsense in vegetable oil, gender policy..."

And Irina Zorkina went even further:

"Patriarchy is the past. Patronymics are the past. It is necessary to get rid of patronymics completely, and not to introduce matrinymics. This is probably what will happen: patronymics will leave before the patronymics have time to enter. Or maybe they'll meet halfway. The choice of patronymic or matrinymic, or the absence of both, the loss of the second part of the name — this will already become a matter for individuals, not the state..."