Another wedding-related post from me – what do we think of them? We aren’t getting married for a long long long long time yet… but as my job is a wedding coordinator, and I am newly engaged I can’t help but start to think about wedding planning!
One aspect of the wedding that I have paid quite a lot of thought to is if I will take my fiancé’s surname. It’s something my views have chopped and changed on but I think I have finally come to a decision… although if it’s another five years before the bloody wedding they may well change again.
Women taking their husbands name used to be a legal requirement, under coverture laws which meant that everything a woman was – her legal rights and all obligations became her husband’s, and was signified by her taking his name. A married woman could not own property, sign contracts – as husband and wife were one, with the husband taking precedence.
I’m sincerely hoping that you are all reading this and thinking what a crock of shit. And rightly so.
Lucy Stone was a vigorous campaigner for the right for women to keep their maiden name; in the WHAT she kept hers after marriage defying convention. However when she attempted to register to vote, she was not allowed to do so unless she did so with her husband’s surname.
Throughout the 19th century married women were slowly afforded more rights; however it wasn’t until the latter half of the twentieth century that abolishment of coverture laws was complete.
I consider myself to be a feminist, although my partner is very traditional, so whenever we have previously had discussions over surnames I have protested (very voraciously) that I would be keeping my goddamn maiden name!
It’s not only what it signifies, (oh I feel like a twat for saying this) the patriarchy, the male dominance that despite massive strides made recently is very much alive and kicking. A woman permanently changing her name in marriage is a very distinct symbol of this.
It’s also very personal to me. I feel strongly connected to my surname, something I think a lot of you will be able to identify with. It’s a nickname used by my friends, it’s the name on my degree certificates, on a drunken night out we made a dance that goes with my surname – its ME.
I could continue, there are so many personal ties, jokes, and times when my name has meant a lot to me. And it’s actually really odd when you think about it, in modern society where both women and men study, get degrees, get professional qualifications and build careers – both sexes do all this in their own name, but it’s women who change their name still in marriage.
Apart from marriage, why do people change their name? Generally because they want to change who they are, or there’s something about their previous name that they do not like. Well there’s nothing wrong with my name, and I don’t particularly want to change who I am.
(Oh holy fuck guys, why did I start writing this blog post. I’m talking myself out of it again)
I’m unpicking a lot about how I’m feeling here haha. Basically it all boils down to this. I love my name, I love my initials, I love having the same surname as my parents and siblings and feeling very connected to them as a little clan.
But then, I had my own little boy.
And putting a name that wasn’t mine on that birth certificate felt strange. Obviously I’m there scribbled under mother, but he had literally just popped out of my vagina and he was getting a different name.
I know there are many families out there who don’t have a single unifying surname, and it doesn’t really matter. What matters is love and all of that malarkey.
But in that second I knew I would take D’s surname.
And I still feel that despite all my feminist ramblings, I will change my name.
And I’ll be proud of it, because it’s the name of the two most incredible people I know.