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August 12, 2022

Marital Name Changes and Feminism.

Photo by Jasmine Carter on Pexels.

Whenever I bring this up, I get a big angry backlash from “feminists” stating that feminism is all about choices. So let me be clear, yes, I agree, feminism is all about choices, but if you change your name when you get married to match your husband, then you’ve made a choice that is drenched in patriarchal values.

I honestly thought by now, that changing last names would be obsolete, but it happens almost by default. Many women don’t even think about it, or the impact it has on women in society. Look, if we want equality then why in the ever living fuck are we handing over our names on our wedding day without so much as a second thought? What’s in a name? I’ll tell you….everything you have ever achieved until the point of marriage, whether it be school documents, awards, or anything you’ve put your name on……kiss that goodbye in a google search of you and your new name.

The impact it has on the psyche too. I don’t care how progressive your husband is, you just made him head of the family, and the most important person in the dynamic. You ditched the identity you have been known as your entire life and taken on his. Must make him feel very fucking special.

Taking on a husband’s name is the most patriarchal of norms in existence. This is a great read, including statistics on the subject, but honestly, it makes my heart weep at the ignorance involved that genuinely holds back equality on a global scale. https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200921-why-do-women-still-change-their-names

Seriously women of the world, what are you thinking? The patriarchal roots of this convention are sickening; “The BBC traces the English history of women taking their husbands’ last names to Norman Conquest of Britain in the 14th century. Under the imported Doctrine of Coverture, “Upon marriage, a woman became her husband’s possession.” Coverture was thereafter brought to the U.S. by English colonists. Coverture categorized single women as feme soles: women with the right to become property owners and assemble contracts, legally using their own name. However, those rights dissolved when she married and became a feme covert—essentially a dependent individual whose rights mirrored those of a child.” (https://msmagazine.com/2020/06/17/tools-of-the-patriarchy-the-naming-tool/)

Don’t get me started on prefixes either! I’ve used Ms my entire life because there’s not a chance in hell I will identify myself based on my relationship status (I’ve been married twice.) Men get Mr….women Miss or Mrs….Fuck that! I don’t care who you are, how accomplished you are, how much I love you, care about you, and how great our friendship is, I will personally always lose a little piece of the respect that I have for you if you change to your husbands last name, or use prefixes based on your relationship status. Not saying you should care about my respect, but I am saying that you should care about equality, language, and killing the patriarchy. But while I’m discussing respect, I have to mention the women that keep their husbands’ names after divorce. WTF? Even after the husband re-marries in some cases! I mean, come the fuck on Janet, he’s moved on, perhaps you should cut the big fat tie that binds too!

I know many people look at my last name and make assumptions, so I will explain. Spencer is my Mums last name, Cook is my Dads last name. My daughter shares my surname as I had it legally changed to mine after winning that battle during a divorce with her Dad. She automatically got his last name by default when the hospital handed her Dad the paperwork and I was recovering from an emergency c-section. I felt a lot of anger that I had just carried this human in my body for 9 months, gone through what felt like a 16-hour war to bring her into the world, then used my body to nourish her with my breast milk for 15 months, only to have her last name default to the person who just had to have an orgasm for her to exist. I mean really, that’s just not fair. (I should state here that her dad and I have a great co-parenting relationship, but I think if I hadn’t won that little battle, then I would still be hanging onto a little resentment, so in short, changing her name to mine, really helped us along.)

Don’t be dropping into the comments with “I didn’t like my maiden name,” either. I don’t care. That’s pure nonsense. Change it, go ahead, just know that changing it to your husband has consequences for the equality of women long term. As I’ve said, feminism is about choices, and if you get defensive about it because you consider yourself a feminist, but have your husband’s name, then ask yourself why you’re getting defensive….you made a choice, and its origins are patriarchal, and you are perpetuating that…. and deep down, you know it!

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