Should Women Change Their Names When They Get Married?

Rebecca Scarlett By Rebecca Scarlett, 16th Aug 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Relationships

A brief discussion of pros and cons to changing your name when you get married.

Should Women Change Their Names When They Get Married?

Ever wonder where the term "Mrs." for a married woman comes from? Look closely: it's "Mr's" without the apostrophe. That's right, the very title for a married women comes from the possessive form of "Mr." and implies that a woman is indeed a posession.
In our society, it is traditional for a woman, upon being married, to change the identity she has lived with her entire life. She goes from being Miss (father's last name) to "Mr's" (husband's last name). Her new last name is not even an identity; it is a way to tell people to whom she belongs. Mrs. X is a short form of "Mr. X's". This tradition dates back to times when women were legally, property. The marriage ceremony itself is just rife with symbols showing a transfer of ownership, like the father walking the bride down the aisle to the groom, (you can't even trust those pesky women to walk forty feet by themselves - they might make a break for independence!) and a change of last name is merely another one of these outdated symbolic trappings.
Since there is no longer a good reason to change a last name once married, women now have a choice of whether to do so. Many women feel pressure to change their names, especially from their fiances, who may have no other reason than "I'm a traditional kind of guy that way," or "I want us to have the same last name." My response to the latter when my fiance said it, was: "Great, me too! So why don't you change your last name?"
I wasn't being cheeky when I said that. I do honestly think it would be nice for my fiance and I, and all of our future children, to have the same last name. It's symbolizes that we are a team, a family. However, I love my last name; it goes well with my first name, it has been part of my identity all of my life, and I'm proud of my family; the family that bears that name. I always wanted my children to have my last name, but as many men are adamant about the children sharing theirs, I've had to compromise and hyphenate my daughter's last name.
I do believe women should keep their own last names as a testament that they belong to no one but themselves. If a woman has made a career for herself before marriage, she may be widely known by one name, and a change could hurt her business, if people looking for her services don't know which name to look for.
I'm aware that there are reasons to take your husband's name, and I don't look down upon women who do. They are no more property than those of us who choose to keep are own names. If you wish for your whole family to have the same name, or if you just like your husband’s last name better than yours, change your name. If, however, you like your last name better, you’ve already changed your name once for a previous marriage and regretted it, or have kids from a first marriage and you wish to still have the same last name as them, keep your name. Of course, if you wish to take a stand for feminism you’ll have to keep your name also!

Tags

Feminism, Marriage, Marriage Name Change

Meet the author

author avatar Rebecca Scarlett
Rebecca Scarlett is a professional freelance writer with over 14 years of experience. She writes articles, essays, blogs, short stories, plays, poetry, songs, novels, and does copy editing. She has been published in print and extensively online. Scar...(more)

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