What’s in a Surname?


You can have my hand, Future Husband, and I shall have yours, but you will not have my name….unless we both hyphenate.

When I marry, I will not change my last name. Call me a feminist if you like; it won’t be the first time. I do not dream of becoming Mrs. Future Husband; it really doesn’t appeal to me. I do not take issue with a woman who does take her husband’s surname if that is her wish. That would be a smack in a face to the women who fought so hard for women’s rights. What I do take issue with is women blindly accepting the formality and approaching it as something they HAVE to do. This is also a slap in the face to those amazing women who fought for the following generations. I also take issue with people giving me ridiculous excuses on the matter for why a woman should take her husband’s surname upon marriage. Let’s take a look-see, shall we?

1. Well don’t you want to show him that you love him? Well, throw me a banana and call me a monkey. All this time I thought the act of marriage was how two people showed love for one another. Silly me. This begs the question, if taking a man’s last name shows him you love him, what in the Jumping Jim Carrey is marriage for? And how is he showing me that he loves me?

2. By allowing you to take his name, he is showing you that he loves you? Give me a frickin parrot and call me a frickin pirate. I must thank Future Husband for his very kind, thoughtful, generous and heartfelt gift, but, I already have a last name. As it turns out, you can’t re-gift a last name, so I’m going to pass. But again, I must thank Future Husband because I know how much he is giving up to let me take his last name, Future Husband.

3. Don’t you want to have the same name as your children? Let’s say I do want to have the same name as my future child why must I take the man’s last name. Future Husband could just as easily take my last name. Or an even better solution, why don’t we both hyphenate?

4. You will confuse people: Really? I’m not explaining the pathogenesis of Ebola; I’m just keeping my maiden name. A simple, “we’re married, we retained our own last names” solves this one. Clearly, proponents of this argument have a lot less faith in the human race than most.

5. You children will be confused: Again, I don’t believe that people or children are this simple-minded. If Future Husband and I are unable to get our future children to understand we didn’t take each other’s last name, I’m afraid we will have bigger fish to fry. Like all the money we will have to spend on private tutoring and private school so the future children can get the extra attention they will clearly need. We’ll also be spending a lot of money on couple’s therapy because Future Husband will definitely be blamed for our future simple -minded children.

6. Its tradition: Well since you put it that way…I have no choice, but to concede. We could get into the who-sits and what-sits  of the tradition, or we can talk about the important issue. Tradition is not synonymous with must!  Thank you, society, for telling me what you feel I should do, but I have a say in the matter and I choose to keep my  name.

This list is not exhaustive, but it certainly hits the high points. Society expects women to take the man’s last name. When confronted with the idea that it isn’t something  women HAVE to do, men and most women alike, look at me as if I have cursed their mother and their first-born child. I assure you, I have not. I’m just questioning a societal norm that I disagree with.

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4 responses to “What’s in a Surname?

  1. I hate my last name. It’s one syllable and four letters. Simple, simple, simple. But no one can pronounce it. Ever. And many people mistake it for my FIRST name because it’s one letter off of a common first name. So, if I ever get married, my name will be changed.

    • Hating your last name is a pretty good reason to change it. I have that problem with my first name. People add extra letters and then pronounce it wrong. I get the same stupid joke about my name over and over and I’ve been hearing it since I was 5. I would most certainly change my last name if I hated it, but I absolutely love it and am not giving it up.

  2. Saw your comment over at New Authors Fellowship and followed to here, because I also don’t plan to give up my maiden name if I ever get married. My sister has, and that’s not wrong: I don’t really care who does and who doesn’t, it’s all up to them. My reasons are really more to do with the hassel of chaning your name after years of records made under another (taxes, medical/educational records, etc) and the fact that I don’t want to have to rebrand after years of marketing myself one way. I mean, I’d have to get a name web address, begin a new SEO strategy, etc. However, if I ever get married, I’d have no problem going by his name socially. That’s more a matter of respecting other peoples’ sensibilities.

    • I know a few women, myself included, who aren’t going to change their name for the exact reasons that you mention. Like you point out, I think the most important thing is respect other women’s decision. I’m sure your sister was happy that her decision to keep her last name wasn’t going to be an issue.

      Thanks for commenting:)

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