Time for an unpopular opinion: young women shouldn’t change their last names to match their husbands.
I should add that this is a case of “do as I say, not as I do” because both times I’ve gotten married, I actually have taken my husbands’ last names.
This common yet outdated practice dates back to the days when women were considered second-class citizens or actual property.
When a young woman married, she left her father’s home and joined her husband’s home. Her father literally “gave her away” to her new husband (often also paying a dowry as well, which is transactional and just gross).
Thus, the young woman took the husband’s name to show that she now belonged to him instead of her father.
Does all of this patriarchal garbage make anyone else sick to your stomach?!
It’s high time that modern women simply cease to comply with this outdated and sexist practice, which is clearly a leftover piece of systemic sexism that should be retired. We’re not Barbie dolls – we’re human beings equal to any man.
It’s worth taking a look at what LGBTQIA+ couples do when they get married. There are so many creative options – like each couple deciding together on a new last name that they both like, and which their future kids may share.
When E and I got married, he knew I had mixed feelings about changing my last name again. Ultimately, though, I ended up taking E’s name because I liked his last name better than my original “maiden” name – and because I wanted to have the same name as our children if we ended up having any.
At the time, E was willing to think of a new last name with me that we could both change our names to, but we couldn’t think of anything that tickled our fancy.
Just the fact that he was willing to change his last name to match mine made me more willing to take his last name!
There is still societal pressure for women to change their names upon marrying, but that’s even more reason why this outdated and archaic custom must come to an end. Doing something simply because that’s how it’s always been done does not fly anymore in 2022.
Once we realize something is inherently racist, sexist, ablist, classist or ageist, we have a responsibility to change things.
Women changing their names after marriage may not seem like a big deal, but there is power in a name. When we change our names to match our husband’s, we are giving away some of our power.
I may have changed my name twice because of marriage, but I will counsel Z to choose her own last name or keep ours. I’m hoping that she won’t feel societal pressure to change her name if and when she decides to marry.
Did you change your last name for marriage or another reason? Do you have any regrets about it? I’d love to hear your name change stories in the comments below or over on Instagram or Facebook.
I remember being very young and having similar thoughts, but something someone told me at the time put it in perfect perspective; “You really go from being your father’s daughter to your husband’s wife 🤯, and your mom gave her last name up for your family unit.” You know, in the scheme of things, it’s a small sacrifice. Like another commenter, I kept my last name as my middle name, and was honestly happy to lose the original middle name which I not only always hated, but my mom had already used it on my older sister as a way to honor my mom’s own late sister. (Really, Mom, there wasn’t another name ON THE PLANET you hadn’t already used which you could have chosen?) I loved my original last name, still do as my middle name, and even took a part of it to give my daughter as her own middle name. I have a friend whose sister kept her original last name, which was in fact a beautiful name, but she says all the time people think she’s divorced bc she has a different last name than all four of her kids. I love that my little family is connected to each other through our shared last name, even though I liked my original last name better, but if my daughter should go forth in this world and want to change any part of her name, that will be completely her choice, and like the rose, by any other name she will be as sweet.
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