What’s In a Name?

I love my new colleagues; they’re bad-ass (sorry for the Americanism, bad-arse just looks wrong!). We have fab convo, lots of laughs and some good bants.  One such recent convo turned to weddings, marriage and the hot topic of women changing their names.

You see, people have an opinion about women’s names.  Or specifically, if they are ‘allowed’ to keep their own name and not change it to their husband’s name when they marry. Yep. In 2017.

Let’s just step back a moment. Now people are, I believe, free to call themselves whatever they choose. (Shout out to Friends’ Phoebe aka Princess Consuela Banana Hammock & her beloved husband  Mr Crap Bag!!!). But what is going on when a husband thinks he has the right to expect, much less insist (?!) a woman – an actual human person with her own identity, character, challenges & accomplishments – takes his name when they marry.

rose by any other name 3
Shakespeare / Photo: quotespictures.com

                                                                                                                                    I know married women who’ve changed their name to share their husband’s (crack on); I know married women who’ve kept their name (crack on again); I know women who’ve hyphenated their names -or like me, both spouses have cos, hey, there’s two of us getting married (again, crack on); & I know couples who’ve merged their name with their spouse’s (keep cracking on).  So you get the gist: I know lots of combinations and personally, I love the freedom to be creative and not be bound by one specific tradition or societal expectation (I’m not good with either tbh).

But why, oh WHY, is it that the man – or even his parents or yours – feel they have the right & power to dictate the name by which a woman calls herself based on a patriarchal tradition of a wife’s identity being absorbed into her husband’s upon marriage? Wives are, thankfully, no longer a husband’s property so while the choice to share a family name, whether it’s his, hers, a combo, a new name, is understandable and lovely, it should be just that- a choice. And a choice is only really a choice if it is open & equal.

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