Hyphenate this!

June 28, 2008

Another thing I don’t get – why, in this day and age, are women still changing their last names when they get married?

Historically, women changed their names upon marriage to reflect a change of ownership: women were considered property of their fathers until they became the property of their husbands.  Clearly (or hopefully!) we don’t live in such times any longer, with the exception of some pockets of ultra-conservative religious wing-nuts.

So why do so many women still do this? Without question? Is it because it’s what their mothers did, and they don’t want to seem like some sort of femi-nazi? Is it at the request of their husbands, or parents or in-laws, who require this familial homogeny? Is it because these women won’t know how to name their children? Or, more likely, it’s just another one of those “things that people do” that are never questioned, never held up to any amount of scrutiny or inquiry.

(On a side, trivial note, speaking of names – Frank Zappa and his wife named one of their sons Dweezil, but the hospital refused to put this name on the birth certificate, which instead was issued to read “Ian Donald Calvin Euclid Zappa”. When Dweezil was 7, his parents asked him what he wanted his “real” name to be, at which point, of course, he chose the name he knew – the name his parents chose – and a new birth certificate was legally issued. I highly recommend Zappa by Barry Miles for this and many more fascinating details about Frank’s wild life.)

You can also read an interesting (and old) article by Katie Roiphe about this very topic that you can find here.

As the name of my blog has suggested all along, this topic is one of many on a long list of things which should be doubted, questioned, and reexamined. I’d love to hear from married women who opted for this choice, and to hear their reasoning for it.

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4 Responses to “Hyphenate this!”

  1. DD Says:

    There’s no logical reason for marital name change. It’s simply due to tradition, and that is simply fallacious.

  2. mindserased Says:

    Absolutely, DD. Like I said, I just don’t get why women are still doing this. I was really hoping to hear from women on this, especially those who have changed their names, and offer their reasoning for it. Who knows? I may still.

  3. TY Says:

    I know two couples where the man took his wife’s name. Whatever reason one may have, a lot of it has to do with a beginning of mutual, legal life together. It’s not about the tradition, definitely not about possession (anymore). Some women/men keep their names separate for business/branding/career purposes. This is all assuming we are talking about a healthy relationship in modern society.

    Finally, I think there are much worse elements rooted in our society, grown from the same seed.

    Everything should be questioned!
    Cheers.

  4. Minds Erased Says:

    TY! Welcome aboard. Your comment rings true. Question everything indeed!


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