Feminism | Posted by Jamie N on 02/24/2010
The Name Game
Even if you’re only a little bit of a feminist, getting married can be tough. I knew that some of the more archaic traditions could be nauseating but I found myself affronted with some good ole’ fashioned deep seated sexism when the topic of weddings roles around to last names. Are you taking his? Keeping yours? Hyphenating the two? Or GASP the worst…is he taking yours?
I chose to keep my last name. I’ve identified myself quite a bit with it and it just seemed like another silly tradition to ignore; how wrong I was. I constantly face problems with this, any time we both sign our name and then choose the married box inquisitive looks are to follow. But more than just the annoyance of people’s disbelief that we were actually married is the deep and sincere reaction it brings out in people.
Just last August a study from the University of Indiana and University of Utah found that of the 810 women polled 70% thought that a women should take her husbands last name and half of the women went as far as to say they thought it should be illegal not too.
What this tells me is that there still is a lot of work to be done for women’s rights. The perception of women as the quiet nurturer is the very stereotype that is used against us; as if it’s somehow easier for women than men to let go of their pre-married selves.
I think more marriages wouldn’t end in divorce if women weren’t expected to literally change who they are as soon as they’re married – to quietly sublimate who they were before they became someone’s wife.
Brian and I thought about other choices. Hyphening our names just sounded weird and to be totally honest he hates his last name. The main reason he didn’t do the (GASP!) big one and change his name to mine was because only seven states offer the option for the husband to change his name on the marriage certificate. In most states the process for the man to change his name is very humiliating and degrading and I would never ask him to do that.
If it was just about a name, society wouldn’t make men feel so horrible doing it, but the tradition is rooted in ideas of male ownership over women and how she now “belongs’ to her husband, bought and sold like any ole’ commodity. Those ideas might not be as blatant as they used to be but it’s roots in submission and power shifts go so deep and potentially inhibit communication, honesty and mutual respect. So we’re staying the Navarro/Snider family and people will just have to deal.
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