- 6 years ago
A few days ago I created a similar post to this but it came across as aggressive and many people were offended by some examples I gave. After re-reading the post I realized that I needed to rewrite it because I did not have the intention to offend anyone. So I have cleaned it up and am reposting it in the hopes to have a productive dialogue with members who believe they have something to contribute to this topic 🙂
I hope no one takes offense to this, and if you are happy with your decision then that’s great! I am not and I never will make comments on what life choices you’ve made. My question is, why is it still expected that women should change their names? I am brining this topic up because I have kept my last name; my husband is OK with it, but many people give me a hard time about this. I find this to be very unfair.
Years ago women took their husband’s name because women did not have any legal identity. In fact, law in the 1700s stated that “By marriage …. the legal existence of the woman is suspended and is under the wing and protection of her husband.”
In those days to say something was under the protection of, meant it was property of. So a red house is under the protection of John Richardson means it is the property of John Richardson. A female under the protection of her husband means she is her husband’s property.
Centuries have past. Women are no longer property, woman can votes, become educated, doctors, judges, Captains in military, yet our society still assumes that women should take their husband’s last name. Again, if that is what you want to do, great, it’s your decision to make.
If there was a tradition that said “If a person with red hair marries a person with brown hair, the red headed person’s name must change.” Most people would believe it just does not make sense. How could we impose something on some people but not on others?
I’ve heard many people say “You have to change your name, its tradition”. I do not see how something being tradition means all people must automatically do it. I am sorry to use such an extreme example but for instance, in some countries (I am not going to name the countries because I do not want anyone to feel that I am criticizing someone’s nationality) anyhow, in some countries it is a “tradition” to for new parents to take their babies and line them up to drop them off a 15 meter tower in a shrine and then catch them in a white sheet. The ritual, which has taken place for more than half a millennium, is believed to make the children grow up healthy and strong. My point is, just because something is a tradition does not necessarily mean it is good. People do not need to blindly follow something just because it is a tradition.
I am not saying that the concept of having traditions are bad. What I am saying is following a tradition is a personal choice. If you want to follow a tradition, you are free to do so. But if you do not want to follow a tradition you are free to not follow it. So when people tell me that I must change my name because it is “tradition”, is not a good reason.
Some women hyphenate. I see nothing wrong with that. If a woman chooses to hyphenate her husband’s name onto her own name it is her choice. As for me, I did not choose to hyphenate because, to me, it is still unfair. I am uncomfortable with the idea that I should have to add someone’s name to mine, but he would never have to add mine to his. I do not mean to offend, it is just my personal feelings. To me it is a double standard.
I know many women take their husband’s names because they want to have the same last name as their children. I can completely understand the value in doing that. But I do have a “funny” story here, or something to think about. I have a friend who was married and had 2 children with her husband, then her husband unfortunately died in the war. A few years later, she married again. They had one child together. Later, she and her second husband divorced. Then last year she got married again, and they are very happy together. In short, she has been married 3 times, and has 3 children from her 2 previous husbands. So now I am curious, whose last name should she have now? Should she take the name of her first husband because that is the last name of her first 2 children? Or should she take the name of her second husband because it is the last name of her 3rd child? Or should she take her 3rd husband’s name? I think many people I know would feel she should have the last name of her current husband. But, if she takes her 3rd husband’s last name she will not have the same name as any of her children. So why is it considered OK for her to not have the same name as her children because she took her husband’s name, but it would not have been OK for her to have a different last name than her children for keeping her own name?
Whether you are a man or a woman, people should be proud of the decision he or she made to change names, hyphenate, or keep the last name. People should be tolerant of each other’s life decision and not demand an explanation from those of us who did not go the traditional route.