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

posted 10 years ago in Names
Post # 33
Member
722 posts
Busy bee

I am keeping my name. It never considered the alternative but I definitely agree that it should be every woman’s personal choice.

But I am surprised that so many people think it would be a big deal for a mother and father to have different last names. There are a large number of countries in which the women traditionally  retains her name after marriage and they don’t have  a problem.

(from  Wikipedia)

Belgium

Cambodia

Iceland

Spain

Chile

Brazil

Portugal

Italy

China

Korea

many Arab countries

Malaysia

Post # 34
Member
1854 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

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@cakegal:Also in Canada, in the province of Québec, women can not change their name to their spouse’s name – but that doesn’t apply to the whole country…

Post # 35
Member
1854 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

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@Melissabegins:Thanks! To me it makes sense…

Post # 36
Member
1641 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

Feminism has a lot to do with having the freedom to make one’s own decisions. Another part of feminism is to show support of our fellow sisters.

So in my mind, you friend is not a true feminist. She’s likely just a trouble maker.

I consider myself a feminist to some degree. I also plan to take my Fiances name because I think it will make feel more like a family. I think women should have the right to make their own choicesl

 

Post # 37
Member
1426 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

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@monitajb:  I think you raise an important point.  I think part of this also reveals how feminism has shifted generationally.  (warning: broad, sweeping historical generalizations ahead.  Remember there are exceptions to every rule Wink)  The feminists who came of age in the 70s and 80s were facing so many obstacles that for any individual woman who considered herself to be a feminist to make a more traditional choice was considered a sort of betrayal of the ideals.  They were fighting for the right to have careers or the right to keep their names without being maligned as betraying their families.  So in many of their minds, for a woman who considered herself to be a feminist to choose to change her name or to choose to stay home would have been akin to a black person during the civil rights movement to choose not to vote, once they had gained that right.  Who would make that choice?  It seemed crazy to them!

Now of course we are still dealing with many of those problems today.  Women still make less than men, still face unfair expectations that men do not face (like changing their name), still face horrible stereotypes (the idea that anyone who calls herself a feminist must be some man hating femi-nazi comes to mind) etc.  However I think that, since we’ve been in the fight for a little while longer now, and we’ve made some important gains, the feminists of today are a little more relaxed about the idea that there are many valid choices in life.  Not every woman has to make the same choice to be considered a feminist.  Yeah, some of the old attitudes are still out there (as evidenced by your friend) and it does make some feminists (like myself) sad sometimes that when the goal is “family name” it’s almost always assumed that it will be the woman changing her name to reach that goal.  However to me and most other feminists today, working towards making all name choices socially valid (including women keeping their names, women changing or hyphenating their names, and even men changing their names) is more important than making sure that all women attack the inequality of naming patterns in the exact same way.

So anyway, that’s my take on the whole matter.  As to the “why take my father’s name over my husband’s” question, I guess I would say that if a whole generation of children came up with a wide variety of choices (hyphenated, children with mom’s name, children with dad’s name, children with a combo name) then the question would be moot for them.  Because the larger social structure that assumed that women would have either their father’s name or their husband’s name would be gone.  Every family would choose the name that was right for them- regardless of the gender of the person who was bringing that name to the marriage.

Post # 38
Member
2186 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

not a “feminist” by the “femi-nazi” term of the word, but i do believe in choice for women – as long as its equal choice and not dumbing it down for them to meet a quota.

so that being said. i am keeping my name and adding his. Why? because for the last 10 years i have studied the geneology of my family. and i know how hard it is to find out who people are when names are just dropped out of the blue. i also know how hard it is to find people when they DONT take the hubby’s name.

so i am doing both LOL

Post # 39
Member
2090 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

I don’t view my last name as “my father’s name” – it is MY name. Yes, technically it is my father’s last name, and his father’s, and on and on. But more than that, it is MY name. I am not taking my FH’s name, because I don’t like how it sounds with my first name, but more importantly, I love my name, and I don’t feel like I have to give that up to create an unified family going forward. My family – the one I create with FH and our future children – as well as the one that includes my parents and his parents, and our siblings and crazy cousins – isn’t dependent on what anyone’s last name is. 

FH and I present a unified front, and a family, without me giving up MY name. 

Post # 40
Member
1805 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: March 2011

I asked the same question years ago when I married for the first time and pondered all of this.  Why is it any better to have my father’s name vs. my husband’s?  I couldn’t see any real difference.  Yea, my mom and I share a surname along with my brother, but I know my mom has no attachment to that name and thinks of it as my father’s name.  She just kept it after the divorce so we (the kids) wouldn’t have a name different from hers.  When I married the first time, I kept my name because I didn’t like my husband’s surname with mine, it was too rhymy, and he didn’t care, but my Mother-In-Law took extreme offense to my decision.

Fiance and have talked about this a lot.  In some ways it is different nw; I am marrying a woman!  Fiance is going to be changing her name before the wedding and after I will change mine to match.   She is changing her name to embrace the side of her family that has been there for her (vs. the name she carries).. I like that name and am glad to be rid of my father’s name.

In my genealogy research though, I did actually discover that one of my family names on my mom’s side is metronymic; that is, it was formed from the MOTHER’S first name and has no patrilineal link.  I found one on my dad’s side like that too, and it was intriguing.

Post # 41
Member
189 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: January 2012

Honestly I think it is such a personal decision and I absolutely hate it when other people try to lecture you about it.. especially if you hadn’t even asked her what she thought! (the same thing has happened to me in the past) I think you are completely right in pointing out that you are changing one man’s name for another and in that instance is it really more feminist to keep your old last name. My thoughts on it is that it is going to be your name for life and the only time you will ever be able to change your name again without going to a court house. If you really want to talk feminism I say, do what YOU want to do because that is what you want do for yourself whatever that choice is– to me that is the ultimate feminist stance you can take on this issue. 🙂

Post # 42
Member
1003 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

I mentioned this in another post because I personally think that the great thing about feminism is that it has given women a right to make a choice. A choice to do as they please with their name, whether it be traditional or not.

Personally, my Fiance and I had the name talk. My mom’s generation in my family kept their birth names except one of my aunts. And passed their names onto their children, myself included. One of my uncles has two children from his first marriage that have his last name and a child with my aunt that has her last name. They have never had any problems socially or otherwise with having different names. They are still all brothers and family.

So I am keeping my birth name, and Fiance is seriously thinking of changing his name to mine, as he was suppose to get his mother’s birth name but due to sympathy she gave him his dad birth name, which apparently she regrets to this day (they are lonnnng divorced, can’t you tell?). I don’t mind either way, it is his personal choice.

 

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@egb: It is funny you mention that as my family has a Quebec background. My grandmother was the only one who changed her name and she came from a british family. My great-grandmother legally had her husband’s name but socially and in death/records is represented by her birth name which was her mother’s name.

Post # 43
Member
58 posts
Worker bee

From a big time feminist….

I see the point your friend was trying to make. Personally, as a feminist, I believe its important to illuminate the history and the frameworks for which anti-feminist traditions come from. Taking a husband’s name is, historically, an right of ownership by the husband/man. I think perhaps this is what your friend was trying to explain (and maybe in a not so nice way?). I personally believe its important to acknowledge this.

Okay so beyond this, to present day! I like very much your thoughts about choice- it is your choice to take his name, and you chose him. That is very feminist. And you have a passionate reason for wanting to do so (family). I think that is what it is all about for the modern feminist bride – to acknowledge the foundation of a tradition, accept it, consider it, and make a decision based on what is right for you.

I personally will not change my name only because I am uber independent and have been building a great career using my last name. Plus I have a lot of pride in my family history. And that is my choice and well-thought out decision 🙂

Post # 44
Member
380 posts
Helper bee

I don’t mean to hijack the thread as there’s been some excellent points made, but I was just wondering if anyone’s decision to take their husband’s name was influenced by how much they like their husband’s family? 

I wonder if I would be more tempted to take his name if I loved his family.  Instead, I’m not sure if I like the idea of being aligned with them in name!

Post # 45
Member
58 posts
Worker bee

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@bug-in-a-rug: one of my best friends did just that! well, it was a tad more complicated. she has a terrible history with her own family. she met her husband and fell in love with him and his family. she had no desire to told onto a name that caused her pain, and was excited to take the name of her husband’s family

Post # 46
Member
247 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2011 - The Viceroy

Let me start by saying I support every person’s right to choose their own name once they marry—men and women alike.  However this seems to be an issue that (for the most part) only women deal with.  Men changing their names is still rare in this part of the world. 

You bring up a great point with “it’s one man’s name vs. another…” that is part of the whole problem; only men’s names exist in our culture.  By marrying and keeping your birth name it is a stance against that tradition, and therefore a feminist act, a way to claim your own name.  I think it’s a huge problem that most of us assume that any children automatically get the man’s name, that is a misogynistic tradition.  The fact is men and women are still not treated as equals (for instance women make about 60-75 cents for every dollar men earn), even though there has been progress.  A wife was once considered to be a man’s property and once they married all of her property was now his—not theirs, his.  It wasn’t that long ago that there weren’t domestic violence laws and it’s only been 90 years since women could vote in the US.  Keeping your name is bucking much of the old and misogynistic traditions, even if mostly symbolically.  One day, when things are more equal and name change issues aren’t mostly about gender, I suspect this will change.

PS It bothers me when people say (not OP) they are not a feminist, a feminist a someone who wants equality for women.  I believe we should all be feminists!  

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