Posts Tagged With: name change

Mr. & Mrs. What Now?

It's the darndest thing. I can casually browse the internet and start off watching prank videos on youtube and then end up reading up on Nietzsche. Today was no exception. I was on blackboard, studying my course notes when out of nowhere, while delving into a little side research, I found out that a whopping 50+% of people believe that women should be legally required to change their last name after marriage.

If you didn't catch that; here it is again: legally required.

I feel outnumbered. There are only a handful of women I personally know who haven't changed their names. Most married women do and while this is so loving, so supportive, so giving, why has it never occurred to anyone that it isn't any less loving, supportive or giving for a husband to take their wives’ names? But you don't see that happening, do you?( Perfect example gender double standards)

I was well into my feminist awakening when I first heard the term “coverture.” To sum it up: coverture is the practice of women — and only women! — taking their spouse’s names and is the continued symbolic representation of a practice that was explicitly designed and used to subjugate, oppress and silence women whose identities were wholly subsumed into that of their husbands. 

Somewhere along the way, as years passed and women's rights progressed, this practice stuck on and somehow… it became kind of romantic. But it's only romantic when she takes his name, and not the other way around. Because if he does, well pssshhh… it's coz the dude's totally whipped! (For those of you in agreement with this statement, please click HERE).

More than I loathe the history and practice of coverture and its many continuing cultural implications, I appreciate the fact that women no longer have to do any one thing with their names. Do I wish more women would keep their names, or more men would change, hyphenate or morph their names? Absolutely. I think it would be really exciting if more families and couples felt empowered to decide for themselves what’s best, to decide what makes their marriage or family real for them, instead of simply doing the easy or traditional thing — especially when that easy, traditional thing is steeped in some pretty seriously misogynist history. 

Anyway, that's all the ranting I'm going to do on this topic. Read PART 1 here. 

Now it's back to statistics for me!

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True gender equality is actually perceived as inequality. A group that is made up of 50% women is perceived as being mostly women. A situation that is perfectly equal between men and women is perceived as being biased in favor of women.
And if you don’t believe me, you’ve never been a married woman who kept her family name. I have had students hold that up as proof of my “sexism.” 
My own brother told me that he could never marry a woman who kept her name because “everyone would know who ruled that relationship.” Perfect equality – my husband keeps his name and I keep mine – is held as a statement of superiority on my part.

– 
Lucy, When Worlds Collide: Fandom and Male Privilege.

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Name Change Debate

You get engaged, and after the congratulations, gifts and champagne toasts someone will ask, “Are you going to change your name?”

Over the past couple of years my response to something like the above, when the rare and premature topic of marriage is ever broached, has changed from "Yeah, probably" to "Oh, I don't know" and finally to "No, I won't.”

Majority of people you'll meet will feel that women should change their names. Maybe it has something to do with family unity or an overwhelming case of fuck-my-life surnames (e.gs: Tinkle, Schwartzmanberg, Cox, Focker), but I’m pretty sure it boils down to deeply established rituals—like potty training. It’s just something people do. People will expect it and will already start addressing you as Mrs. Sharma, whether you like it or not.

Unfortunately the name-change debate has become a ritual as well. Wedding season rolls around and people spill ink on the subject, swirling the options about like finger paint: hyphenate, hybrid, make your old last name your middle, etc. What a mess!

As for me, I will not go with the flow because it's just easier to take your husbands name. My name is one of the more basic principles of feminism that I believe in. The origins of taking your husbands name were based on property laws and treating women like property, so why would I want to be treated as a piece of property. No thanks, that's not for me.

Lots of guys I know are boggled by how this angers me. When asked if they'd take their wife's surname, the idea is usually scoffed at. "No way", they say. "That's not how it's done" or  "My name is what makes me who I am. I can't do that".

Well gee, now you know how I feel.

I was reading up on this and here was one of the top reasons for changing your name:
If you're planning on having children, you'll find life is much easier when going on trips (especially when traveling internationally), dealing with schools, and even just dealing with other parents, if you're easily recognizable as being one family. Many brides find that having the same last name as their husband helps them feel more like a family, and a new name is an important symbol of the journey they are embarking on together

Easier you say? Nothing productive comes from taking the easy road children.
Having the same last name is an important symbol of your journey together? Ok, I can see that but why can't we apply this "important symbolic logic" to men taking the last name of their partners? Yeah, you know why.

My question is: what about us? Why are we the one's who always have to accommodate? This even applies to women getting married to men of a different faith. I don't know anyone in my family who is male and converted to the religion of their wife. That just never happens (not like it should in either case anyway). It's so extreme sometimes too; I've heard of women converting to the denomination their husbands are under even if it's the same faith. Why? Because it's easier.

Anyway, I digress. To me, changing my last name would be taking apart what encompasses me. My identity is dissolved, and just like that, I'm betrothed to a name I may not even like. Choosing not to take my husband's last name does not mean I'm being difficult. It does not make me an 'angry feminist'. It means standing up for what I believe in, asking to be equal and choosing to step away from traditional roles that just tie us down, suffocating us with old fashioned do's and don'ts that don't even apply anymore.

Wake up people. It's time for change.

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