(Closed) An honest question for self-proclaimed feminists and the name change

posted 10 years ago in Names
Post # 17
Member
1854 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

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@monitajb:I get what you’re saying about the fact that men don’t have that choice to make and that in that way, it’s patriarcal.

BUT to me, having the man’s name is a way of honoring the papa in the family. I mean, a mom carries the children, delivers them, everyone KNOWS who’s the mom. What do dad’s have to show that they’re part of the family? I believe that giving your children their father’s name, and if you want, taking his name as well, is a great way to honor the men we love and give them the part they deserve in the center of our families.

Post # 18
Member
2206 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

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@egb: Like I said, there are plenty of factors to consider, and certainly good arguments either way. My point is that almost none of us actually had this discussion with our FI’s. For most of us, the choice is do I change my name somehow or keep it. I bet we could count on one hand the number of active Bees who honestly discussed as a viable option her FH taking her name.

Post # 19
Member
2392 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I think that part of what I object to as a feminist is the way society judges women so much more harshly on so many measures.  That includes your friend’s attitude towards your changing your name.

But that also includes the fact that all the pressure is on women to change their name.  It is up to the woman to create the family unit.  Men may or not care about it, but they grow up with a name and they expect to (and 99.9% of the time do) keep that name.  Women are expected to be malleable, to consider the sacrifice of creating a cohesive family unit.

On an individual level, it is fine if a woman wants to make that sacrifice (not fine for a man to pressure her, imo, but fine for her to choose to).  It is fine if a woman wants to change her name for another reason (aesthetics, never knowing her father, easier to spell, whatever).  I don’t know based on someone’s name what her thought process was, all I know is that she probably had one.

As far as my father’s name, my fiance has his father’s name.  They both had their father’s name before them.  There’s nothing I can do about that, but what I can control is getting to keep my name and its link to my family history, just as he has always expected to be able to keep his.  If we have children, their names will link them to their mother’s family (we will almost certainly be childfree, if not we will hyphenate or use my name… he can use his if he finds a way to get pregnant) and both girls and boys will be able to decide if the want to keep that link if/when they marry.

Post # 20
Member
115 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

monitajb definitely hit on part of my view, that name changes aren’t an issue for men.  So many view it as a “more feminist” or even “the only feminist” decision to keep your name, since it’s more on equal footing to what men do- ie, never having to make a personal decision regarding which name to take. It’s not an equal choice for men and women.  For me personally, I feel that until an equal number of men take on women’s last name as the other way around, keeping your maiden name *is* a more feminist choice.  I don’t think it’s a huge deal if you do change your name, nor do I expect that all (or even many) women will want to make a feminist statement, so take that for what it’s worth.

The other part of my answer as to why it’s considered more feminist to keep a name passed along male lines than to take on your husband’s name is that names are two things (to me): a statement on what family you come from, along with you very own, personal identity.  My first and last name as a combination are something I have had *as an individual* my whole life.  I respond to the sounds of it and have memorized the way it feels to write it down on a piece of paper.  This is me.  My FI’s name is him.  And while I don’t think that all, or even very much of, my identity is tied up in my name alone, it still makes up a part of who I am, not to mention others’ recognition of who I am.  I have to have *some* name, some identity, and that happens to be my given name, which was passed down by my father. 

My fiancé and I hope to address this one-sided passing down of names by giving my daughters my last name, and my sons his, or vice versa.  And it’s not *just* my father’s name- he didnt choose that name himself either, it was passed on from his father, and on and on.  Of course it’s not equal that it was only passed along patrilineally, but I hope to change this, at least in my family. 

I know that a lot of people think that my decision is overzealous, but I think that the bulk of present-day feminism is making decisions that may seem over-the-top to many others simply because the matters seem trivial- aren’t women “basically” equal now, don’t they have the same freedoms as men?  I don’t think we do yet, so these small things add up as part of larger issues.

This is a decision that is fraught with so many implications for people, and I understand why it elicts strong feelings.  But I will stand by my opinion that having one “man’s name” (my father’s) is more ME and more fair to me as a woman than taking on my FH’s last name.

Sorry to write a novel, just trying to clarify why I felt that way ๐Ÿ™‚

Post # 21
Member
2820 posts
Sugar bee

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@monitajb:  Maybe not bees but I had this conversation with my husband and I know a lot of my friends did as well.   

The thing is there is no easy answer.  You can’t continue to hyphenate in every generation so it’s a temporary solution, I’ve had friends make a new last name out of their old last names but then you lose any trace to lineage, I’ve heard a couple people who want to divide the last name up amongst children but that to me seems a bit confusing/complicated though I could see how it might work, but usually it comes down to only one passing their last name on to their children.  Honestly, we’re not 100% decided.  I think it’s much easier for women to say OK because they got used to the idea from a young age, whereas most men haven’t so it’s a new idea to them, thus it’s usually easier for the couple just to OK we’ll go with the flow/what’s common. 

Post # 22
Member
385 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

This is the first time I’ve seen it presented this way (ie Keep your father’s name or change to your husband’s name), and while I see the merits of that argument, I’ll risk being repetitive by saying the following…

Personally, I’ve kept my father’s name.  But you know, it’s also my mother’s name now, and has been for longer than she had her maiden name.  For me, it’s my family’s name, and, like @maladroite said, it’s MY name.  I have always identified myself in this way, and see no reason to change now. 

When we got engaged, I did bring up the idea of my husband changing his name.  His reaction was an immediate “NO” which helped him to understand why I haven’t wanted to change my name.  It’s who I am, and one basis of our relationship is that we love each other NOW, how we are, and we’re not looking to change each other.  For me, that includes my name. For him too, as it turned out.  ๐Ÿ™‚

That said, I’ve seen other women who are delighted to change their names for various reasons (eg, family cohesiveness, or simply shedding the name of a disliked father), and it’s great that they’re so enthusiastic about it.  I guess I would only have an issue with changing a name if a woman is NOT happy about it, but is browbeaten into changing her name.  THAT brings up the inequity, and all the questions that @monitajb raised.

Also, I’d like to bring up Mrs. Star.  I believe that she and her husband BOTH changed their names to create their new family.  I kind of liked that too.  ๐Ÿ™‚

BUT, again, it’s a personal thing, and to judge someone so harshly for such a personal decision isn’t quite right. 

Post # 23
Member
115 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

And to the OP, your friend was pretty rude about voicing her opinion of your choice!

Post # 24
Member
5147 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

Well, I’m not a feminist, but the reason I’m considering keeping my maiden name is because there’s almost nobody, I think there’s probably less than 20 people, with my last name (Jakoplic) in the United States. My fiance has a very very VERY common last name (Arnold).

Post # 25
Member
22 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: December 2010

My Fiance and I have been negotiating this for a while! We agreed that it would be nice to have the same name but haven’t yet decided which name to take. He is just as happy to change his name as I am to change mine which is nice. Though I think that’s more because he prefers the sound of my surname to his, rather than for any social-political-patriarchal-feminist reasons…

We even thought about mashing the names together and becoming the Andersbridgersons – although to me that sounds a bit much like something you’d find in IKEA.  

 

Post # 26
Member
2206 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

Well, we’ve had a few people mention really considering having the FH take the FW’s name, so maybe I’m overly pessimistic.  Tongue out

Post # 27
Member
2820 posts
Sugar bee

Well…..I’m not saying they decided to take the girls last name.  I can’t say I can think of anyone off hand who decided to pass the girls last name onto the kids.  But…..I think most of my friends have had this conversation as a serious discussion, the result is just always the same.  I  know several people though who combined last names but no one that chose the girls name. 

Post # 28
Member
3124 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

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@egb: I think that’s an interesting point – that women have the privilege (if you think of it that way! har har) to physically have children, and naming the family after the father can be a way that the father is linked with his children and family.  

Very interesting post MissDallasCowboy!  and i’m an Eagles fan ๐Ÿ˜‰

Post # 29
Member
22 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: December 2010

I wonder if we are expecting too much too soon? Feminism as a movement has made huge strides in the last 40 years or so, and it takes society and social norms a while to catch up. A generation ago, very few women kept their own names after marriage, and society looked askance at those who did. Now, we debate about whether to keep our maiden names or take our husbands’. We have come this far in one generation, it’s not too much to hope that the next generation of couples will choose more often to take the wife’s name.    

Post # 30
Member
7768 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2010

It’s up to you.  You have to do what is right for you.  If you feel that you are doing what you are doing for reasons you feel good about- more power to you.  Don’t worry about convincing your friend- she obviously has her mind made up!

I personaly don’t think I would ever change my name.  I am the last person in our family with my name, and it is also important to me as an artist.  I guess I also don’t understand why a man’s name should take precident.  I view man and woman as equal partners, so I wouldn’t follow tradition personally, just to follow tradition.  But it sounds like you have thought-out conviction about it, and maybe don’t identify that much with the name you were given at birth, viewing your change in names just a change from one man’s name to another’s. 

Fiance wants to take my name because his last name was made up by his Grandma.  I knew a prof is college who married a woman and their little girl took her name, and their son took his.   

Post # 31
Member
1278 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

For me, personally, being a feminist is about choice. If I want to take my husbands name, I will, if I dont, I will keep my own. There is no “right” answer, just what is right for you.

I have often felt a bit like a contradiction to profess to be a feminist, but then at the same time I cannot wait to have the same name as my partner. If I felt strongly about my last name and my identity tied up with it, then I would keep my surname, but I don’t. What I am looking forward to is the significance of creating our own family name, and beginning our new life together as a family.

 

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