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

posted 10 years ago in Names
Post # 62
2015 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

I consider myself a feminist, and my definition of feminism is believing women are equal to men. I took my husband’s last name.

The way I saw it, like the OP, it was either my father’s name, or my husband’s. When it came down to it, I chose my husband’s because I like the way it sounded with my first name. And well, I don’t have a ton of respect for my dad (who left when I was young).

I think if hardcore feminists want to judge those of us who change our names to our husband’s, they should change their name’s to their mother’s maiden names or something. I totally understand the historical implications of taking your husband’s last name (ownership and such), but in modern times, especially in America, women are usually choosing to be with their husbands, and choosing to take their name.

As long as we have a choice, what does it matter? 

Post # 63
2373 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

I did not take my husband’s last name- it wasn’t because I’m a feminist (not that I’m not)- I just prefered my last name and he was unwilling to change his.

I don’t think less of people who change their last names.. and I don’t think it makes them less.  Honestly, I’ve never heard anyone say that.

Post # 65
1003 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

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@egb: Oh, I knew that and obviously not surprised that happened. Quebec in someways (not in others however) has been more socially forward then other parts of Canada, especially after the Duplessis era. I know lots of families that where the women kept their names, LONG before 1984. Ah crazy Quebec! Laughing

Post # 66
385 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

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@Arachna:  Yes!  This argument wasn’t sitting well with me, but I was having trouble verbalizing it. 

My name is my name, regardless of where it came from.  I began my life with it,  identify thoroughly with it, have no desire to change it, and so I will keep it.  It’s that simple, and has nothing to do with choosing between my father and my husband. 

Post # 67
120 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

The first difference, OP, is that whether it’s right or not, all children (boys and girls) usually take their father’s last name. Yet only women are expected to change their names in marriage. That does not exactly spell equality.

Second, your name was given to you in its entirety – First Middle and Last. Once you are named Jane Marie Smith, Smith is no longer your father’s name, it is YOUR name. Just as even if you were named after your grandmother Jane, Jane is now YOUR name. You have just as much ownership of that name as your father does.

Third, you have lived at least 18 years with your name, and might have had degrees, achievement, publications, etc. associated with that name. In this sense also, your name is no longer that of your father, it is YOURS, and is identified with your experiences. 

That being said, I took my husband’s last name. It doesn’t make me any less of a feminist. I understand, and obviously support, the decision of keeping one’s name. So does my husband. But for very personal reasons that I don’t have to explain to anyone else, I decided to take my husband’s last name. I was never pressured into it. 

A name is such a personal decision, and it should be respected. It is unreasonable to assume someone is not a feminist just because they change their name. However, we would also be kidding ourselves if we don’t see the inherent inequality of social expectations. 

Post # 68
1303 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

 I have no issue with a women taking her husband’s name.  I will be taking FI’s name, but I might just delay it until we have our first child.

I do think it’s rich for a MAN to scoff at the idea of a women keeping her name or changing HIS own dang name, when he isn’t expected to change jack and spend all day at the SS office and the DMV.   

Post # 69
376 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

Your question is a good one, and it’s super personal for me, in a good way 🙂

My parents realized this conundrum existed when I was born. So they each kept their own names, and gave my brother and me a different name that had been in both their families for generations. So my last name is MY last name, not my dad’s or my mom’s.

I’m keeping it, and adding his. And he is adding mine! Otherwise, I wouldn’t do it — seriously.

But that’s just one situation. I would NEVER tell anyone what she should call herself (which is what you do when you lecture someone about their name change, or lack thereof)! How rude!

Post # 70
1091 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2020 - Oakland Manor

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I completely agree, that men are not expected or even encouraged to change their name. The system is still set up for women to change their name and for a man to change it (depending on the state) is very tough! Often men are discouraged from changing their names both socially and legally. Oh, and dont’ even get me started on your husband trying to change his name when he was born in another country. Le sigh.

On one hand, I’d love to stick it to the system and have Mr.D officially change his name. On the other, I don’t want him deported because the US government can’t handle a man changing his name.

Miss Sequoia, your name history sounds so neat!

Post # 71
9024 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

i think it is a matter of personal choice and nothing to do with being feminist…

Post # 72
62 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

I won’t echo all of the wonderful points made here about personal choice and whatnot. I just want to add two things:

1. I’m really sorry that that conversation with your “friend” happened. That kind of thing is really frustrating. 

2. I met a priest from Africa once (I’m so sorry, but I can’t remember what country. And I realize the cultural insensitivity of labeling such an enormous geographica area as one big lump. If I had to guess, I would say central West Coast. But. That’s a worse faux pas. To guess wrong. Ok, I’m going to climb back out of my hole now…)

Anyway, this priest asked how I had gotten engaged. I said “He asked me to marry him” 

“So who pays for the wedding?”

“My family”

“And what name do your children have?”


“You mean he ASKS you, but then YOU and YOUR FAMILY have to give everything up? Shouldn’t he have to pay for things if he wants to marry you so badly?”

My mom was there and was in whole-hearted agreement 😉

Just another take on the gender iniquities of our accepted social relations!

Post # 73
529 posts
Busy bee

I always quote Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in the US and a contemporary of Lucy Stone “Why keep the name of a man you didn’t choose and refuse to take the name of a man you did?”

Now, that doesn’t silence the whole “it’s a man’s name in the first place” debate. But still…food for thought. It’s a personal decision that should be respected, regardless.

Post # 74
1023 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

I think it is interesting that we all chime in that its feminism if YOU choose, because our choices (i.e. the ones we recognize) are constrained by the societies we live in…therefore you really aren’t making free/feminist choices if your only conceptualization is husband’s v. father’s name. Obviously there will always be constraints on what we can and can’t do, but jeesh there are a lot of other options out there that are quite popular, nvm conceptualizing your name as someone elses.

Post # 75
1049 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 1998

The answer is, it doesn’t make you less of a woman or less of a feminist as long as you’re doing it because it’s right for you. The women of generations before us fought for us to be able to make this choice. To sit and hem and haw over what worked best for us. In the past, women didn’t have the choice. So make your choice and own it. Sniping at each other over our choices is the least feminist thing we can do.

Post # 76
8 posts
  • Wedding: July 2012

My Fiance and I are having this same discussion now. My last name dies with me and he has two other brothers to pass on the name. We are thinking that he’s going to take my last name so my family name can be passed on to our kids. I think it’s amazing that women get to choose today and I don’t think when women take the men’s last name is regressing, it’s just a personal choice that were able to make 🙂

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