I’m not sure where to post this…but I was really curious as to what choice you made ragarding your last name when you got married. Did you take your husbands ln? Keep your maiden name? hyphenate? or move your maiden name to your middle name? I never really considered keeping my maiden name, but the older I get the more I find myself attached to it. For the first 20+ I didnt really care about my ln enough to keep, but now that I’m going to graduate school and building a career I find myself not wanting to drop it. Our children regardless will have my SO’s ln, I will not hyphenate their name. I kinda like the idea of moving it to the middle and even replacing my mn, as I dont like my mn in the slightest. My biggest motivating factor for taking his ln is wanting to have the same ln as my children. Any advise?
Taking a husband’s last name is one of the many ways in which patriarchal social standards still dominate our every day lives. It is completely arbitrary and based on the idea that women are property to be passed down from fathers to husbands; giving one’s children the father’s last name is similar, in that it is supposed to “prove” that they are his offspring and not someone else’s - to give him a legitimating claim on them as his property essentially. Based on all of this, I don’t believe in changing your name just because you got married. It just perpetuates the male dominant world that we live in.
I agree with the previous poster. I’m a teenager, so no plans of marriage in the near future, but I’m planning on keeping my last name no matter what. My mom kept her last name and my sister and I have her last name.
Well, I’m not married, but I have thought about this quite a lot. When I was younger I was devastated when I “realized” that I would have to change my surname one day. It’s very much a part of my identity, and I won’t be changing it unless someone holds a gun to my head. But that’s about me. It does bug me a little that women are generally expected to change their surname and that men who change theirs are considered “whipped”, but in an ideal world I think it’d just be a personal choice. I know some people (men and women) who couldn’t wait to change their surname because they came from bad families and wanted rid of the association, and others who, like me, wouldn’t change it for anything.
About having the same last name as your children: again, it’s a personal choice, and it might make some things a little bit easier, but many, many children these days grow up with a different name than at least one caregiver (due to divorce, remarriage, and kept surnames). I don’t think it’s too much of a problem. Then again, you will forever be referred to as Mr and Mrs X, or the Xs, so if that’s the sort of thing that bothers you it’s worth considering.
Some people also make up a new surname entirely to denote the start of their married lives. It’s not a common option, but it’s at least fair in that the man also gives up that part of his “old” identity, if that’s a concern to you. And I hear the process of deciding on something can be quite fun.
I’ve also read that the concept we have of surnames is not as widespread as we think. In many Muslim and/or African countries, women keep their birth names throughout life - this is especially useful in countries where “tribes” still matter. In one country (I can’t remember which) the husband chooses a whole new name for his wife, first, middle, and last – which sounds a bit like ownership to my western ears, but just as some women here look forward to changing their surnames, women in those countries look forward to their whole new moniker.
I believe it’s in spanish countries that names are typically hypenated, so if I were [name]Mary[/name] [name]Smith[/name] and my husband was [name]Frank[/name] [name]Jones[/name], we would become the [name]Jones[/name]-Smiths (or, increasingly, the [name]Smith[/name]-Joneses). The children, when they get married, drop the second part of their original surname and hyphenate the first (so [name]Annie[/name] [name]Smith[/name]-[name]Jones[/name] and [name]Tony[/name] [name]Davies[/name]-[name]Morgan[/name] would become the [name]Davies[/name]-Smiths).
I think it’s pretty neat all of the different traditions that exist in the world, and they make a useful comparison point when you’re trying to decide what’s best for you. All of these systems work somewhere, so it can’t be impossible to pull off.
Thanks the replies thus far, they have been very helpful to read. My SO would never even consider hyphenating his ln. He really isnt traditional at all, but this is one thing he feels strongly about. He doesnt care if I want to keep my ln, but he has made it clear that he is keeping his and our children will have his as well. So basically I am left with three options:
- Take his ln (I should add that I really do like his ln)
- Keep my ln and be the only one in the family with a different ln.
- Take his ln and move my maiden name into my middle name spot.
Hyphenating for me really doesnt work either. [name]Both[/name] names end in S and just dont flow.
I should also add that I am going to graduate school to get a PhD in biology and in my field most women keep their last names.
I could also give all my children my maiden name as a second mn…I just dont know if that even matters though since mns are never really used.
I’m sorry but I must clarify. Last names in Spanish-speaking countries that use the paternal-maternal surname system are not hyphenated. Instead, you have two last names, first your father’s paternal last name, followed by your mother’s paternal last name. For example, [name]Carlos[/name] Mendoza Garc”a marries [name]Daniela[/name] Soto [name]Quintana[/name]. The son [name]Javier[/name]'s and the daughter [name]Regina[/name]'s last names will be Mendoza Soto. [name]Daniela[/name]'s last names, however, never change and neither will [name]Regina[/name]'s when she marries. They are never hyphenated and a wife may may not take her husband’s last name for any legal purpose. The law doesn’t even allow name-changes upon marriage. Socially, [name]Daniela[/name] may be referred to as [name]Daniela[/name] Mendoza, especially if [name]Carlos[/name] comes from a wealthy or well-known family. In casual settings the couple may be called the “Mendoza Soto” as in, “[name]Honey[/name], did you hear that the Mendoza Soto are buying the apartment across the hall?”
Not all Spanish-speaking countries use the double last name system. In [name]Argentina[/name], for example, you only get one last name - your father’s - and you cannot change your last name upon marriage, although you may be referred to socially as Se”ora Husband’s Last Name.
As for the original question, I kept my name but not for any reason of principle or to take a stand against patriarchy. I was moving to Spanish-speaking country so I had no choice. Keeping your maiden name is no protection against oppression; witness the way women are treated in many Spanish-speaking countries. Had I married an American and stayed home in the US, yes I would have changed my name.
I defer to your more specific and less-based-on-a-tentative-memory information!
I don’t think keeping your maiden name fends off oppression so much as it challenges an outdated and patriarchal notion. However, I’ve known men who say they would be deeply offended if a woman wanted to keep her own name – which is far more telling than the actual government documents would ever be. (Also, it is a useful way of telling which people you don’t want to be married to in the first place, as far as I’m concerned).
could another option be for you to take his name for some things and not for others? My mum goes by her married name and uses it for some accounts, etc, but she also uses her maiden name on other accounts…Or does it work differently where you’re from?
Also, I hear of women with PhDs who use their maiden name for work purposes and use their husband’s name the rest of the time…
I honestly don’t put much faith into marriage so am unlikely to go down that road anyway, but if I did I wouldn’t take the dude’s last name! I think that with women these days being as liberated, opinionated and educated as they are (I mean, you’ve got a PhD for crying out loud!) men don’t really have the right to demand that their wives to be take their names.
Forgot to add - I do like the idea of putting your name in the middle name spot though. Seems like you’d have the best of both worlds - you like his ln and you’d have the same name as your kids
Honestly, I love the fact that I took my husbands last name. Its a decision I made and one that I feel all women should be able to make. It gets on my nerves that it can be such an issue for a “feminist” or whatever they would like to call themselves. Not only do I feel like they are out of line judging the choices of a woman who WANTS to take her husbands name, but I take it as a personal attack. I wouldn’t judge them if they kept their own name, so I expect not to be judged that I took a new one.
My advice is to make a decision for yourself. My husband said he would support me if I wanted a hyphen and that he would take it too. Or I couldve kept my own name as well. [name]Free[/name] choice is always the starting point, I think.
Hurray! I totally agree!
I too, CHOSE to take my husband’s name. I have no problem with women keeping their own names, and we even considered hyphenating ([name]BOTH[/name] of us would use the hyphenated name) but for simplicity and because we wanted to have a “family” name I chose to use my husbands last name. This way our children would share the same name with both their mother and father. Obviously this is NOT necessary in today’s society but it was a consideration and a personal choice.
I hang around in a lot of feminist circles and haven’t really come across anyone judging a particular woman for her particular choice – rather, the idea that by default a woman should change her name on marriage and a man should not is criticized. Because it’s a societal norm, it does rather remove the choice for many people (a lot of people never even think of the merest possibility that the man could change his name, for example). A lot of people operate on defaults. So as progressive people we should strongly discourage the use of rhetoric such as “whipped” to describe a man whose wife refuses to change her name, and discourage others from frowning on what, ideally, should be a personal choice, but never disparage an actual person from making a choice. I’m sure there are feminists out there who would disagree with this notion, but as a general rule that kind of abrasive feminist is way overrepresented in media and hard to find [name]IRL[/name]. [name]Just[/name] saying. (Probably about half the feminists I know changed their name, mostly for the reason of having the same name as their kids, but they are also aware of the patriarchal society the tradition stems from and tend to encourage serious thought about the matter.)
What a fascinating discussion. Thank you, [name]Leah[/name], for starting it. This seems like the perfect place.
I think this is a problem with no great solution! Although I use both [name]Redmond[/name] (my maiden name) and Satran (husband’s name), I’ve never changed it legally and I’ve been married nearly 30 years!! Last time I went to motor vehicles they almost wouldn’t give me my license. I told the woman I was ambivalent and she said, [name]Honey[/name], after 30 years you better make up your mind.
But I can’t!
I honestly wish I had stayed with [name]Redmond[/name] and not changed it. I still feel like a [name]Redmond[/name] and don’t want to let that name go. But it is more convenient for the whole family to have the same name and the kids like it. I also chose first names for my kids that reference my birth name and family: [name]Rory[/name] means red and is Irish like [name]Redmond[/name]: [name]Joseph[/name] is my father’s name; [name]Owen[/name] has [name]Redmond[/name] as a middle name. So “letting” them have Satran as a last name gave me more power over their other names, and you know I loved that!
A couple of times I actually tried to change back to [name]Redmond[/name] and it didn’t really stick. Once the kids rebelled; the second time, nobody remembered to use it (including me). All around tough choice with a lot of disadvantages no matter what you do.
I do know couples who’ve both changed their last name and guys who’ve taken their wives’ last names. I’m certain my husband would never do that.
What babylemonade said. The feminist issue isn’t the individual choice, it’s the whole system. Think about it; even if you keep your last name, where did it come from? Most likely, it was your dad. [name]Even[/name] if it was your mother’s maiden name, where did that come from? Etc. The only socially equal situation I can see is a default in which all girls receive their mother’s last name and all boys receiving their father’s, with no one ever changing their names.
The situation we have is patrilineal; that’s not a synonym for patriarchal.
For the OP, I think your first thought needs to be your publication record. If you’re a newly minted PhD with no publications, or only one publication that you were a junior researcher on, do what you want (keep your maiden as your middle at least, however… I didn’t even know people didn’t automatically do that until recently. People might make class judgments about you if you completely drop your maiden); make sure that your CV mentions that any articles or conference presentations are in your maiden name, and put your maiden (new middle) name prominently on your CV. Basically, you have to prevent potential idiots on search committees from failing to find your pubs and rejecting your job apps due to that. If your publication list is as long as my forearm, don’t even think of changing your last name unless you hyphenate. The reason for this is that you don’t want other writers who may cite your work to be unable to find half your articles in a database or your version of the MLA. In this case, you can give your children your last name as a middle.
I guess I fall on the traditional side of the line. I’ve changed my name twice now. The first time was in high school after my parents’ divorce (and my father was incarcerated); I had no scruples about changing my last name from his to my mother’s maiden name. Then, I only had that last name for a few years before I married my husband.
It was very much a choice on my part. He and his family did not assume I would change my last name after he proposed; they asked politely what my plans were in that regard. I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to become closer to him. We are religious, and our religion focuses on the idea that marriage is a unity between two people–a unity in all things. We moved in together, joined bank accounts, and now we share a name.
I really hope I’m not coming off as being judgmental (because I absolutely understand that these are my own beliefs), but marriages are supposed to be incredibly difficult to break apart and retaining so much independence from each other makes it easy to dissolve it and pretend it never happened. To me, that makes marriage seem like a cheap contract, easily made and easily broken. In fact, it is a very deep commitment and every part of that commitment should be thought through carefully and decided upon by both partners.
I’m a teenager, so marriage isn’t in my immediate plans for the future. However, I have given it some thought before because it’s come up on different boards. I think choosing whether or not to take your husband’s last name is a personal decision and certainly not something you should be judged for. If you choose to take your husband’s last name, that’s cool. If you choose to keep your maiden name or hyphenate your last name, that’s cool too. Me personally? I don’t have strong feelings either way. I plan to take my husband’s last name. It’s a long-established tradition that I have no issues with. Also, I just really don’t like my last name. And it’s spelled wrong. :?
Interesting discussion, [name]Leah[/name].
[name]Jennie[/name], changing your name and getting a new checking account takes an afternoon’s worth of errands. What makes a marriage, or any relationship for that matter, difficult to dissolve are dependents and joint ownership of illiquid assets. A married couple who are renters with no kids but the same last name and checking account can legally separate much more easily than an unmarried couple with a house, kid, and different last names and checking accounts.
I don’t see what checking accounts have to do with anything, really. In my mind and my parents’, separate checking accounts means one thing: overdraft prevention. I mean, they’ve got this baby boomer mentality about marriage that I disagree with, but this is just common sense. If you’ve got two busy people simultaneously earning money and paying bills as they come along, separate checking accounts are just necessary to avoid bouncing checks. That’s the way most people live now. If one person is staying at home, making the financial decisions, and monitoring the cash flow, there’s no reason to have separate accounts unless your budgeting is very anal and fun spending money needs to be allocated every pay period.
Sorry, that was an off-topic tangent, but as someone who works closely with numbers and money, it annoys me when people qualify others’ relationship commitments based on what financial arrangements work for their budget.
Great discussion! A friend of mine is from Ethiopia and what they do is use the fathers first name as the childs last name. [name]Kinda[/name] of strange to do for English speaking names but interesting anyway.
it annoys me when people qualify others’ relationship commitments based on what financial arrangements work for their budget.
[name]Just[/name] to add to that tangent - I’ve worked for three banks and it amuses me when people actually think they know what’s going on by having joint accounts! I couldn’t even count the amount of times I got yelled at by customers for ringing them up because their spouses didn’t know about this secret account on the side.
Also, what you said about considering names on the PhD thesis is definitely a valid point
[name]Lauren[/name], I hadn’t thought about that, but so true! I was thinking more about multiple income streams and expenditures and a complicated cash flow arrangement. If you’ve got several income streams and expenses associated with those streams (for example, if you are owner or part-owner of businesses, farms, oil or timber sources, etc.), you’ve got to have multiple accounts just to keep your crap in order for income taxes. Also, not every couple has two members with equal fiscal responsibility; sometimes a saver marries a spender, and when those couples have a little money and have passed their macaroni-and-cheese days, they’ve got to have separate accounts just to keep the peace.
To bring it back to the topic of the thread, I did change my name - I brought my maiden to my middle, and I got married pretty young. But if I was a mid-career academic with a buttload of publications out there, I wouldn’t change my name. No way. This has nothing to do with marriage, and everything to do with not giving up your professional reputation in searchable format.
FTR, also, the Patriot Act and other post-9/11 legislation has made changing your name and everything surrounding your identity once you’ve changed your name a big [name]PITA[/name]. If I’d known how much crap I’d have to deal with, I would’ve left it the same.