The Honor of a Name: Marital Status, Property, and the Patronymic

  • Andrea Mansker
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


Divorce proceedings after 1884 provided one concrete space where individuals used the honor culture to negotiate new forms of symbolic citizenship for women. But the introduction of the Naquet law also generated several legislative, judicial, and feminist debates during the fin de siècle over a related aspect of familial honor that had significant implications for female civil identity: the patronymic. Bourgeois men and women had long been concerned about protecting the honor of their family names, due to the appellation’s close connection to property and public reputation. However, as the next two chapters will show, the possibility of legalized divorce raised new anxieties for parliamentarians, judges, and women’s activists about the instability of female identity and the patrimonial functions of male honor. The marital name became a point of contention around which several political deliberations on women’s capacity for citizenship revolved. In this chapter and the next one, on feminist discussions of the patronymic and feminine titles, I continue to consider how divorce was related to women’s subversion of the male honor culture and to their attempts to develop an autonomous civil and civic identity detached from that of their husbands.


Married Woman Single Woman Civil Code Civil Court French Woman 
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Copyright information

© Andrea Mansker 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Mansker
    • 1
  1. 1.Sewanee: The University of the SouthUSA

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