the lip crew on maiden names
‘If you’re gonna do it, pick something together that makes your new family more interesting – all the celebrities seem to be taking this liberty willy-nilly with their children, so you may as well partake in collective familial humiliation too. You could pick something stately and delicious, like Von Hamburger. C’mon! Imagine being introduced to a room as the ‘Van Cronuts’ – hilarity will surely ensue! Or you could really go beyond the pale and choose a verb – nouns are so last century. And I’d wager that nobody is gonna mess with a lady who calls herself Mrs Insidiously.’ – Audrey K Hulm, Writer
‘I really couldn’t give two hoots either way whether someone, male or female, decides to keep their surname after marriage or not. I’m also not really in a position to make an informed judgement on it either. I can assume having to change your name on a thousand and one legal documents would be a royal pain in the arse, but then, I wonder if that would complicate next of kin situations.
I have thought a bit about whether I would change my name if I get married. On the ‘yay’ side, my current surname is not pronounced the way it is spelled and swapping to something a little easier wouldn’t be terrible; if the marriage and the kids happen I think it would be nice to all have the surname; and I’m also not terrifically attached to my surname. But then, I don’t want to establish myself under one name and then go and change it. The surname also dies with my sister and myself, and I can just see my grandmother turning in her grave. Just do what you want. Hell, go change it to something else by deed poll. Whatevs.’ – Melissah Comber, Writer
‘My mum is a pretty cool lady. She got married in a white suit, works for local councils making sure people don’t get screwed over by bad landlords, and didn’t change her name when she got married. It never occurred to me growing up to ask why her and my dad didn’t share the same surname – it had just always seemed obvious that my mum had one name, and my dad another, like me and my friends. Neither of them like double-barrelled names, so they just picked the more interesting of the two for me and my siblings. In a practical sense, it’s useful for a family to have the same name, but there’s no reason why the man’s should take precedent over the woman. In this age of same-sex marriage and not having to ask your girlfriend’s dad for permission before you tie the knot, the idea of a ‘maiden name’ seems somewhat archaic. It ties in with older unmarried women being ‘old maids’, whereas men are eternal bachelors. If you’re going to get married and want to keep all your family under the same name, I’d just pick the best-sounding name out of the two of you and go with that. Sacrifice patriarchal tradition for linguistic smoothness.’ – Lucy Uprichard, Writer
‘As a child, I often daydreamed about my future. Where would I live, what would I do, who would I marry, and what would I name my children? Names in particular interested me. I wanted to find names that were unusual (but not too weird), and that flowed. The problem was, I couldn’t see into the future to know what my children’s surname would be. I couldn’t even know what my future name would be, which scared me a little. What if I ended up with a truly stupid name, like Alexandra Alexander? What if I ended up with a boring surname, like Smith, or an embarrassing surname, like Dix? I was about thirteen when I came to the stunning realisation that I didn’t have to change my name when I married. (Somehow, the fact that I had an aunt who had kept her name after marriage had completely slipped my mind.) While I absolutely adore the idea of having a family who all share the same name, I know that, realistically, sharing the same name with someone does not promise closeness. In my family, only my parents bare the same surname as me – and yet, this doesn’t belittle the relationships I have with cousins, aunts, uncles, and my grandmother. I don’t intend to change my surname when I marry, nor would I expect a potential spouse to change theirs.’ – Alexandra Storey, Writer
‘I do not feel a woman should feel obligated to take her husband’s name upon entering a heterosexual marriage. My mother didn’t change her name, and it has never seriously occurred to me that it would be problematic for a woman in this day and age to make the same choice. If you want to change your name (maybe your name is impossible to spell, or you think it makes life easier ‘as a family’) then go ahead, but make the choice knowing what that truly represents. If having the same surname as your spouse actually was about showing your newfound unity, why is it so shocking in our culture for a man to take his wife’s name? Marriage has largely moved beyond meaning “ownership” of a woman, but the obligatory name-changing part to me suggests a symbolic reduction of the woman’s autonomy. – Amy Nicholls-Diver, News Sub-editor
‘Marriage is really all about property, these days, you know. Actually, marriage has always been about property. A man sees some good produce, speaks to its producer, puts a down payment on its left ring finger, and saves up for the final purchase and goods transfer. Once everything’s in place, there’s a legal proceeding which an appropriately qualified person oversees. The contract is signed. Then the branding of the original owner is discarded for that of the new one. And that’s how women come by their surnames. It’s a flawed system and there’s really no good choice; you’re either stamped with your father’s name or your husband’s. Take your pick. Or for $120 and the time it takes to fill in a single form and have it witnessed by an appropriately qualified person, you could just choose your own, completely original label. That could get confusing though.’ – Sarah Jansen, Writer
‘I used to feel very strongly about women changing their names after they got married. That is, I felt strongly that it was an antiquated and sexist practice. My mind has changed a lot in the last few years, though I still believe it’s an outdated tradition. The fact that it’s almost a given that women will give up their family’s name when they marry while men don’t (or that children must have their father’s name to be legitimate) is undeniably sexist and based on the idea that women and children are the property of men. But leaving it at that ignores other reasons why women might want to give up their maiden name when they marry; one being that for some people, their name doesn’t adequately signify their relationship – good or bad – with their family. I think the concept of maiden/married names are changing along with societal attitudes about honourifics and marriage in general and so whatever a person chooses to do should be respected.’ – Shannon Clarke, Writer
‘Growing up with a surname as unusual as mine, I longed for a normal one. I had a fantasy where my knight in shining armour (surname Smith, Jones, etc.) took me away on his white horse so I could escape the nickname ‘Sarah Alphabet’ forever. Things have changed. I plan to keep my birth name if I choose to marry. I have started building my career on it and will continue to do so: if you establish a brand in business, you don’t want to change that name if it has a good rep. These days, I feel maintaining your brand is the norm. Both my mother and stepmother have kept their maiden names throughout their lives and they are working class women. Despite this, more women are opting into using their partner’s as a gesture of that four letter word. Keyword: opting. That said, it’s reductive to assert using your partner’s name makes you their property. Following that logic, maiden names themselves make you property and we should ditch them too. I have a cousin who legally has no last name now because her father and mother’s surnames were “men’s names’. I love her.’ – Sarah Iuliano, Writer
‘I always knew that when I got married I would not take my husband’s name. After all, my mother never took my father’s name, and while I don’t love my last name I do love the history behind it and the way that it connects me to my family, both past and present. Besides, I can’t see the idea of a woman having to change her name once she’s married as anything other than an archaic idea that belongs back in the days when wives were viewed as the property of their husbands. So to me, the idea not to change my name was a simple one. What I didn’t realise was the reactions I would get when people realised that I kept my own name. They found my decision quite off-putting and couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t take my husband’s name. It’s surprising to me that so many people don’t see the inequality behind a tradition that asks women to sacrifice the name that they grew up with, while never dreaming to ask the same of men. I understand this idea about wanting to share a family name with your new spouse, but why is it always down to the woman to replace her family name with that of another? But to be completely honest, my decision mostly came down to the fact that I like my name and I didn’t want to change it. I really don’t see what is so wrong with that.’ – Kaylia Payne, Writer
So, should women change their names when they marry? Should men?
Did you change your name/do you plan to change your name? Why/why not?
Share your thoughts below!