Apparently I can't be a feminist because I changed my name when I married.

(463 Posts)
dustandfluff Wed 21-Nov-12 22:00:19

I heard someone (a feminist writer dunno who) on Radio 4 a few months ago saying women who change their names when they get married are not feminists.

. I have long been interested in feminism and women's rights. I appreciate the feminist arguments against changing your name. I had my reasons but I don't think that's relevant here. To me this sounds as though to "be" a feminist you have to meet a particular standard.

I think this is the kind of thing that puts a lot of women off the movement.

Opinion s anyone?

ForkInTheForeheid Wed 21-Nov-12 22:13:14

To be honest I don't think it's a huge feminist statement to keep your name (which is usually your dad's - although not always of course) when getting married. I changed my name "socially" I suppose so I'm now Mrs. X but professionally I've kept my unmarried name as it's the one I'm published under. I changed my name because I preferred my husband's name to the one I had already, if I'd had a wonderful surname and his was rubbish I think I would have kept mine smile
Basically I agree with you, think there are bigger fish to fry. Addressing married women as (for example) Mrs. John Smith really annoys me though and shouldn't be continued in this day and age just because it's been done traditionally. It suggests that a woman's completely subsumed by her husband's identity.

AnyFucker Wed 21-Nov-12 22:15:21

My opinion ? I don't agree with what that woman said.

I wanted all the people in our nuclear family to have the same name. There is nothing anti-feminist about that. I don't really care what others do though, and certainly wouldn't think she was a "better" feminist than me

Don't agree. I changed my name.
Besides, why would my father's name be any better?

FastidiaBlueberry Wed 21-Nov-12 22:16:44

Changing your name on marriage is not a feminist act.

But it doesn't mean you can't be a feminist.

I do lots of stuff that isn't feminist: I wear lipstick, dye my hair, conform to patriarchal beauty norms, do femininity at work to get me through the day; but I won't claim any of it is feminist. I'm a feminist though.

I think the woman you listened to on R4 was confusing the act with the person.

I think with regard to putting women off the movement, some women don't need a lot to be put off. If you believe in women's humanity, then some woman on the radio telling you xy and z means you're not a feminist, won't put you off. If you're looking for an excuse to get off the bus though, anything will do.

summerflower Wed 21-Nov-12 22:25:51

My sister changed her name to her husband's when she got married for personal reasons. Her husband is a lovely man and they have a great partnership. The name reflects the partnership, rather than belonging to him.

I just changed my name to a random surname I liked, but that's probably a bit odd.

TheCrackFox Wed 21-Nov-12 22:32:09

My original surname was utterly, utterly vile. DH has a lovely surname so I felt it was a no brainer to change. I'll decide if I am a feminist not some over opinionated half wit on the radio.

Startail Wed 21-Nov-12 22:33:09

My maiden name was forever being miss spelt, often by changing the first letter.

I lost track of the number of times I was told I didn't exist.
I used to gethmm and confused when I said I most certainly do exist you've just put my records in the wrong draw.

Anyhow, DH and I both come from very traditional families, they also would have beenhmm and confused had I not changed it.

exoticfruits Wed 21-Nov-12 22:38:05

Of course you can change your name- feminism is choice. I want to be a unit with my DH and DCs and not my brothers and their DCs.
The thing that irritates me beyond all bearing is the assumption that I am so ignorant I didn't know I could keep my own name! Of course I knew- I chose not to - and why it involves anyone else and why they should make judgements is a mystery to me.

defineme Wed 21-Nov-12 22:39:29

If it's about having a family name why not all change to double barrelled or dh change to yours?

AnyFucker Wed 21-Nov-12 22:42:21

defineme, because my surname was shit and reminded me of my father (not a good thing)

I made an informed choice to change it to my husband's family name

cat Wed 21-Nov-12 22:43:39

But what about the nect generation of double-barrelled children marrying their double-barrelled partners?

Will have a generation of quadruple-barrelled children. And the next generation, and so on and so forth.


Do what you like. Change, don't change, double-barrell.

None make you a better or worse femisnist than any other.

exoticfruits Wed 21-Nov-12 22:43:59

Can't stand double barrelled. Didn't want DH to change his - my choice.

cat Wed 21-Nov-12 22:44:03


*Will we

I get cross at double-barrelled bashing, because my name is an original Ponsonby-Smyth type double barrell from way back, and everyone assumes I was either Ponsonby or Smyth before marriage.

Mathsdidi Wed 21-Nov-12 22:51:13

I'm not married but if I ever do get married I will probably keep my own surname because that's just what I'm used to and I don't think I would ever get used to being called something else. I don't think this decision makes anyone more or less of a feminist than anyone else, I don't think any single decision stops people being feminists.

My family is split equally between our two names, we chose the dd's surnames based on which of our surnames 'went' better with the first names we liked. So dd1 has my surname nothing to do with her father being an arse and me wanting to make sure she was mine and not his, and dd2 has dp's surname. It hasn't caused any problems so far that we have different surnames, apart from when the cm has to fill in forms to take dd2 to certain toddler groups and she can't remember her surname, only mine.

ConsiderCasey Wed 21-Nov-12 22:52:46

"I think with regard to putting women off the movement, some women don't need a lot to be put off."

Sorry, this is a bit of a tangent because not referring to OP, but yes, that's so true Fastidia!

I hear both men and women saying stuff like "oh well I believe in women's rights, but this is going too far, blah blah blah" and "this kind of stuff gives feminism a bad name" etc, but I get the impression that those people are looking for a reason to be put off, whilst at the same time trying to sound reasonable that they tried to give feminism a chance but it was just too extreme ....

defineme Wed 21-Nov-12 22:55:00

I have heard the 'hated my surname' 'hate my family' reasons from so many women, what do the men who feel like this about their surname do?

If women's surnames are optional/something we make a choice about then why aren't men's?

How would you have felt if we were like one of the European countries that use the women's surnmae or everyone keeps their own-can't remember where that is-Spain?

AnyFucker Wed 21-Nov-12 22:58:05

I would prefer it if I lived in a country where you can choose what you do

like this one I reside in

AnyFucker Wed 21-Nov-12 22:58:52

Men can change their surname if they wish

TheCrackFox Wed 21-Nov-12 23:05:08

My dad hates his surname but TBH my mum's maiden name was even worse.

I do know a man who absolutely hated his own dad so he changed his surname to his wife's. He emphatically did not want their children sharing the same surname as their abusive grandfather.

I kept my surname on marriage, and for me it was definitely a feminist decision. It was not my dad's name as such, when I married at 28, that was just historical accident if you like - at that point it had been my name for 28 years and was staying that way.

However: "I think the woman you listened to on R4 was confusing the act with the person. " Yes, I agree. I think keeping your name is (or can be) a feminist act, and I wish more women would do it, but changing your name doesn't stop you being a feminist.

defineme Wed 21-Nov-12 23:23:47

I suppose I mean't cultural norm to do that then...but think you knew that.

I'm just not sure we've come far enough in terms of women's position in society to be able to do without symbolic gestures and I think the name is a good symbol. Sorry if that sounds garbled.

part of the reason I kept my name was because I thought about having the same name as my mother inlaw and it didn't appeal and I thought about not having the same name as my Mum and felt sad: so it wasn't all high falutin' feminist ideals.

I'd never judge a person by their name and it's not something i'd get worked up about in real life.

AnyFucker Wed 21-Nov-12 23:28:20

me neither, defineme smile

I don't really care, tbh

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 21-Nov-12 23:33:10

I chose to change my name when I married.
I have chosen to keep this name even though I will soon be divorced.

My life. My choice.
I am a feminist.

Feckbox Wed 21-Nov-12 23:38:18

You can't be a feminist if you got married grin

Or so I was once told

Fozzleyplum Wed 21-Nov-12 23:44:35

I'm never sure why some people get so worked up about the whole surname thing. I am Miss X at work and Mrs Y at home for pragmatic reasons; I married at a stage when it would have been professionally inadvisable for many reasons to namechange. An added benefit is that I have a work identity and a home one - a bit like a work and home wardrobe.

Whilst I can't get excited about it, I don't see the point of the recent spate of new double-barrelling. I know some people have rational reasons to do so, or genuine old D-B'd names, but I also know of a fair number who do it to for the aesthetics (to sound posher?), which seems a bit pointless IMO. But then I think personalised number plates are pointless, too, so I guess I'm not that bothered about names.

NewNames Wed 21-Nov-12 23:44:59

If you keep your surname and he keeps his, which surname do the kids get if you don't want to double barrel?

Selim Wed 21-Nov-12 23:53:13

I preferred DH's to mine but I didn't hate mine enough, I don't think, to change it if I was a man. Its much more socially acceptable to change your name as a woman, a man would have to explain himself all the time so would probably need a greater level of dislike to force the decision to change. I don't love my new name so I think if I was getting married now I might go with my mothers maiden name, which is lovely and fuck knows why she inflicted my dad's name on us

Oh, FFS, anyone who judges on something as single-issue as whether you changed your name ...!

I didn't change mine, and I'm hoping if we have children we can give them mine. But it's one decision.

I think it is important is that using the name you want is respected, and that it's not assumed that all women are 'Mrs Husbandsname', but that's part of a bigger issue of respect, surely.

TheDarkestNight Thu 22-Nov-12 00:03:13

I hate the 'you can't be a feminist if...' things. They tend to come from the same women who believe that everyone should be a feminist, too (which I sympathise with). You can't have it both ways, either anyone who believes in gender equality is a feminist, or people who stick to one exact lifestyle and world view are feminists. It's silly, I'm agnostic, but I certainly don't agree with every other agnostic, or make the same choices as them. Why should being a feminist restrict the choices of women? I thought the whole point is that we don't want that!

garlicbaguette Thu 22-Nov-12 00:05:36

I agree it is un-feminist to change your name to match your husband's. But most of us do un-feminist things; you have to pick your battles. It doesn't mean you're not a feminist, though it does work the other way around: women who take pride in being Not A Feminist love to tell us all how they honour their husband by taking his name, or some such codswallop grin Perhaps the woman on R4 had met one too many of those!

Anyway, this is still a free country, allegedly. You can use as many names as you like as long as you're consistent smile

I think gender is a construct. I believe in equality of the sexes.

And I do think there are things that are incompatible with feminism. But IMO they tend to be sustained practices in society, not one-off decisions made only by women.

SomersetONeil Thu 22-Nov-12 01:48:25

I think it is un-feminist to change your name to your husband - I don't see how it can be anything but. I have changed my name, but if I'm honest, it doesn't sit completely well with my feminist principles.

DH didn't expect me to. I kept my own name for quite a while, but by the time it came to have children, I decided to make the change as I wanted us all to have the same name. Weak and feeble reasons, really, but there you go.

I do think the surname/title thing is important in the grand scheme of things. It seems so insignificant to the usual anti-feminist types, but it's not. It's just another way that women are assimilated, and the Miss/Mrs thing - being defined by your marital status in a way that men are not, is ridiculous in this day and age.

But - I do loads of things which are incompatible with feminism. Anyone deigning to tell me I'm not a feminist based on any of that, would be given extremely short shrift.

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 07:23:54

It is trivial - you can do whatever you like and it is nothing to do with anyone else. If I had a double barrelled name the very first thing that I would do, as soon as old enough, is drop half and I would keep the part I liked best and I couldn't care if it came from the male or female side.
Women need to concentrate on things that matter.

scottishmummy Thu 22-Nov-12 07:54:08

why dont you have double barrelled Ms His-Your Name
i do think the whole mrs hisname and mrs is archaic
i do think its fair enough to query why you took his name as opposed to maintain own name or double barrelled

I don't judge individual women on changing or not changing their name, but I do think it is a real shame that so few women keep their name, and default to being Mrs Hubby (both 'Mrs' and 'Hubby' being defaults). A sea-change is long overdue.

BIWI Thu 22-Nov-12 08:32:40

Surely, in this day and age, it's actually about creating your family name? Men can change their names if they wish - nothing to stop them.

I changed my name when we married because it was something I wanted to do. I did not, however, promise to obey my husband in my marriage vows. That really would have been unfeminist!

Trills Thu 22-Nov-12 08:34:36

Anyone who says "you can't be a feminist if..." is wrong, unless the end of that sentence is "you think the sexes should not be treated and valued equally".

It's a damn sight harder for men to change their names, though.

I sort of like the idea that when you get married, you'd both pick a new name out of thin air and that'd be your family name, but then I think that implies that marriage is a new identity and I'm wary of that. I can see why people feel that way, but for me, it's a problem because it is one more thing reinforcing the idea that until you're married, you somehow don't have a grown-up identity that's separate from the one your parents gave you.

(Mind you, my perspective is, shall we say, tinged slightly by the lecture my dear dad gave me about how marriage is when a woman really stops being a little girl and becomes an adult. hmm)

AmandaCooper Thu 22-Nov-12 08:47:49

I don't think anyone should underestimate what a big deal keeping your own name can be. It's a big political statement, which your husband and your families are obliged to share in for the rest of your married lives. If there is a conflict between their expectations and yours, you have to decide whether to put your principles above their feelings - and that's not a natural or easy thing to do particularly when you're trying to ingratiate yourself with new inlaws who have never had any female children. I knew my DH would support my choice but I felt it was asking a lot of him and that when it came to naming the DC the issue would be magnified x100. It was a huge compromise for me but completely meaningless to the people I made it for. You have to be a feminist to even recognise giving up your name as a sacrifice.

"It's a damn sight harder for men to change their names, though. "

Maybe in England. I'm pretty sure that here in Scotland you can call yourself whatever you like, though the General Register website suggests this only applies if you were born here.

I remember watching a documentary some years ago on surrogate mothers, and when the surrogate mother gave birth her husband's name was put on the birth certificate even though he had nothing to do with it, and then it had to be changed later. Madness!

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 08:49:00

A sea change is not long overdue - people minding their own business is long overdue and leaving people to do what suits them.

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 08:49:48

It is no big deal - it is trivial.

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 08:51:04

Giving up my name wasn't a sacrifice and I am a feminist.

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 08:52:06

What is irritating is other people telling me what I ought to think- I am an adult and I think for myself.

Yep, I'm in England. It'd be exactly the same in Scotland for DH, though, since he is neither Scottish nor English - it's true, it wouldn't apply to him as he wasn't born there.

Someone was mentioning on here a while back, about how if you are married, it's assumed your husband is the baby's father even if you're a surrogate mother - I don't think it's a one off.

exotic, TBF, this is an issue where no-one ever minds their own business! Before my wedding was over I'd already had to justify what I was doing twice to family members who couldn't wait to tick me off about it.

I agree with those who have said that changing it is not a feminist act, I didn't change mine but that doesn't make me a better feminist than those that did, I have various other feminist failings, such as hair, make-up, sacrificed career to an extent for children. We can't all be 100% feminist all the time. However I do think that the more we consider the feminist point of view when making our life decisions the better, whichever choice we end up making.

With regard to the specific point of name changing, I don't really have an issue with people changing their names but do really wish more women would use Ms instead of Miss and Mrs, I think that is a more significant issue than the name. As for Mrs Husbandfirstname Husbandsurname, don't get me started on that.

seeker Thu 22-Nov-12 09:07:36

I am always amused that women so often seem to have horrible/difficult to spell/embarrassing/ ugly last names - and men never do!

It is not a trivial issue, any more than the use of Ms/Mrs/Miss is trivial. It is a custom based on women being subservient to men.

I'm not surprised that many women do not see it this way, but I am surprised that many women who call themselves feminists do not see it this way.

DH does, Seeker. He uses mine a lot of the time for that reason.

I suspect perhaps only men with nasty feministy wives have difficult to spell last names, though ...

Lancrehotpot Thu 22-Nov-12 09:14:49

I am a relatively young SAHM and wife who changed name to my husband's upon marrying. I wanted us all to have the same name and preferred his to my own.
The most belittling comments about my family's choices have come from my most stridently 'feminist' friends. I think they are missing the point spectacularly.

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 09:15:05

If my DCs had a choice they would have my DHs - they find mine funny.

AmandaCooper Thu 22-Nov-12 09:15:29

wheredoes I'm glad you raised that as a separate issue, I could drop Mrs and use Ms, none of the people who might worry about DH and his hysterical wife would even have to know!

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 09:15:45

I am also Mrs- again trivial.

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 09:16:37

Why on earth do people judge? Odd.

Brasssection Thu 22-Nov-12 09:17:06

Agree with Amanda and Notgood. It's not trivial. It's an important political statement to keep your own name. I've been questioned about it so many times and even challenged on it. It means a lot ot me and, more importantly, it means a lot to my young daughter too.

I get the argument that a (nuclear) family name can be a good thing, but I won't totally buy it until men and women change their names on marriage in equal proportions. Why is it almost always women doing the changing?

I don't think feminism is primarily about 'choice'. It's arguments like that that get us into pro-porn and prostitution territory.

What's the point, lancre?

It does irritate me a bit, that loads of women get into feminism after they get married or after they have kids, and sometimes it feels a bit smug when people make a point about namechanging as it comes across as if they're trying to prove they've been a feminist for longer - there was a comment on the radio a while back that got up my nose for that reason.

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 09:19:08

If I had a choice I would have my maternal grandmother' father's name. I wouldn't have wanted my mother's far too many of them in the country.

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 09:19:39

Feminism is all about choice.

exotic - I think some people judge because they feel, symbolically, that you're rejecting them/their identity. So if you won't take their son/brother/whatever's name, they think maybe you're not committed to him. Or they think if you don't take your DH's name, and they did, you're implicitly criticizing their choice.

Those seem to be the common ones I've come across. It does surprise me how many people are properly offended by it, even people who have no stake whatsoever in what name you use. It's odd. confused

It is like 'Ms' in this respect - up until a few years ago, some people would respond as if you'd asked them to do something vaguely undignified/onerous if they asked what to call you and you said that.

I think feminism is about women's rights being equal to men's.

AmandaCooper Thu 22-Nov-12 09:22:08

exotic I guess for the same reason I feel I have to justify feeling this is important to me in the face of you twice dismissing it as trivial - we all feel we have to justify our decisions and we shouldn't have to feel that way.

Brasssection Thu 22-Nov-12 09:23:14

Really, a man's choice to look at page 3 and a woman's choice to pose for it? Or my choice not to have to sit next to someone on the tube who is looking at it? Choice is not uncomplicated. Just stating that something is 'my choice' doesn't mean it's right or trumps someone else's 'choice'. It can't. Who decides on the correct hierarchy of choice?

I get that keeping your own name is a political statement, but I'm afraid I changed my name when I got married. Not having my father's name meant more to me than the political statement. ChickensMaidenname was forever being told 'You have MY name, you will DO AS I SAY' etc. Now ChickensMarriedname can stick her fingers up at all that bollocks and is a hell of a lot happier. For me, taking on DH's name was like shaking off chains.

ISingSoprano Thu 22-Nov-12 09:28:53

I changed my name when I got married. Dh and I talked about which name we should use - neither of us had any strong feelings about our own family names but as we were planning to have children it was important to us that our own 'team' had the same name.

grin at chickens.

That is an example of choice being complicated, isn't it!

OwlLady Thu 22-Nov-12 09:36:22

I changed my name but found it a bit weird this year when I took my MIL away and realised we both have the same name iykwim and I had never thought about it before and I have been married for 15 years confused

"I wanted us all to have the same name and preferred his to my own."

How come men never say this?

I mean, say "preferred her name to my own".

"Feminism is all about choice. "

No it's not, it's about equality.

I suppose, LRD. I mean, technically I could have just changed my name at any time to any thing once I hit 18, but it would have caused ructions. Changing it when I got married didn't ruffle anyone's feathers. I did consider keeping my birth name, but it never felt like mine iyswim. It was always my father's, and used as a stamp of ownership. I chose to take on DH's name, so it feels more like mine. That's probably really confusing, but I hope you get the gist. If my relationship with my birth family was less fraught, I could imagine preferring to keep my own name. But as it is what it is, keeping my Father's name didn't feel like any kind of prize. I was quite happy to give it away, tbh.

Noren Thu 22-Nov-12 09:52:27

seeker "I am always amused that women so often seem to have horrible/difficult to spell/embarrassing/ ugly last names - and men never do! "

Yes, this. And I always wonder why if it was so bad they didn't change it long before getting married, by deed poll, which is easy enough to do.

I think we're going to double-barrel the kids, or give them DH's name as an extra middle name then my name as a surname.

I anticipate a lot of angst, drama and confrontation from more traditional members of the family over this but they will just have to get used to it!

I am very glad I kept my nameaand my Ms as I have taken a lot of flak from it at work, from the people at the registry office, from family. A lot more than I expected. People still believe changing one's name and title is compulsory/automatic! I like to think at least I have made people think. I do think it's a feminist act to keep it. I wouldn't say someone isn't a feminist for changing but I do get frustrated that I know almost no women who've kept their names when so many of them claim to be feminist. But then I'm a hairy-legged no make-up wearing THING, so I'm just odd.

No, I do get that. I'm just thinking, all these choices look simple in the abstract but as soon as you put them into a human context, there's a load of pressures or paths of least resistance that complicate it.

TigerFeet Thu 22-Nov-12 09:56:55

I changed my name to match dh's. I felt no association whatsoever with my father's name, I loved him very much but he died 20 years ago and his family have had very little to do with ours ever since then, I don't think I've seen any of them since his funeral. I wanted us all to have the same name and his name is as good as any. My sister (unmarried as yet) wanted to change her name to our Mum's maiden name at one point but never did as it would be too much faffing about - I don't think she'll bother changing her name if/when she gets married.

I know of at least one person in RL whose dh changed his name to match his wife's when they married, I'm sure there are plenty who do it. I also think it will get more and more common as time goes on.

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 10:02:30

To me feminism is being able to make a simple choice and not have other women telling me what I should think and what I should do. I wanted to change my name, it was an informed choice and I did it- it is absolutely nothing to do with anyone else. I also refuse to be Ms- I can't stand it. However I will address other people as Ms if they wish - and whichever name they choose without reading anything into it or making judgements.

I agree with you you shouldn't get people making judgments on something like changing your name (no-one ever judges a man on his name, do they?).

I can't agree with you about that being what feminism is. I don't think the major problem with the world that feminism sets out to right is 'other women'.

IME it's as much men as women who judge this issue. Often very rudely, too.

AnnoyedAtWork Thu 22-Nov-12 10:07:01

I am so conflicted on this. My dd from prev relationship has my name so don't want to change mine when I marry DP

And also I'm a pretty vehement feminist and I do feel like I would be betraying my own principles by changing it and I wouldn't change it at work anyway even if I changed it officially ( I have a "network and reputation " type job )


If DP and I have our own child it won't be able to have both our surnames as they are not possible to double barrell ( one of them is an O'Something for a start) so this means that at least one of my children I won't share a surname with whatever I do !

(Can't change DD's as she has her dads as well and not worth the aggro / legal challenges )

AnnoyedAtWork Thu 22-Nov-12 10:10:09

Sorry but feminism does NOT equal choice! I'm sure that all those women who " choose" to be prostitutes and lap dancers are perfectly happy and not oppressed by men at all angry

Not that I am equating changing your name to prostitution before I get accused of saying that! But think about how much "free choice" you actually have on this??? Women are SO pressured by society into changing their names

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 10:14:52

You never know what is around the corner- DH died 2years after I took his name- it was a great comfort to me to have it.

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 10:16:21

No one pressurised me, the one thing that would is women telling me I shouldn't change it. It is my personal choice and nothing to do with other women.

Oh, exotic, I'm so sorry.

I can understand that.

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 10:19:02

It would have been dreadfully upsetting not to have his name. He was under 30yrs and left his name and DS- and it seems some people would begrudge the name!

Surely it's about the right to choose?

OwlLady Thu 22-Nov-12 10:21:09

I would have rather have had my husbands name than my abusive fathers tbh hmm but everyone's circumstances are different.

I don't think anyone is begrudging the name.

It's a choice within a context, is all.

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 10:23:09

Apparently not YouSeveredHead- feminism is choice to me, but it appears you have to make the 'right' choice which effectively takes it away!

OwlLady Thu 22-Nov-12 10:25:13

But if you choose to change your name, surely you have made a choice? confused and it is YOUR name anyway. My name has been my name for almost as long as my other name now. I wasn't forced by my husband to change my name

Feminism isn't choice. And the right to make a choice isn't the same thing as saying every choice must be made possible, because you can't. You can't give someone the right to buy porn, and someone else the right not to work in porn, can you? To take an example.

Names seem to me to be one of those issues where we do, to be honest, all have a reasonable amount of choice. I do wish we'd get to the point where everyone just used their own names as standard, but I'm not grudging anyone changing their name because there are sometimes very good personal reasons for it.

It still doesn't make me believe that feminism can possibly be all about choice, because it simply can't.

Yeah, that's true, no one is taking your choice away from you, exotic.

exoticfruits Thu 22-Nov-12 10:29:04

I would ban porn, people taking illegal drugs, people eating unhealthy foods and all sorts of 'bad' choices- however they have the right to choose for the selves.

bitsofmeworkjustfine Thu 22-Nov-12 10:30:22

when i was single my intials were PB now i'm married my initals are Pb.

I've always doen this and got some stick from the blokes in work... but i'm not defined by who i married.....

BegoniaBigtoes Thu 22-Nov-12 10:30:35

I feel so strongly about this. Changing your name when you get married is a choice, yes, but that doesn't make it a good choice. The problem with doing things like this - unless men and women do them equally - is not whether it's right for you, but the message it sends to everyone else.

When a woman changes her name on marriage, but doesn't expect her husband to do the same, it tells her husband, her kids, her colleagues, and basically everyone in the world "As a woman I am not as important as him". It just does. Because his name becomes the name of the family, and hers is obliterated - and what that says is that she doesn't matter as much. EVEN IF it's practically trivial/irrelevant, that message is so importat because it is one of the many, many ways girls and boys get that message as they grow up. And that message, so deeply ingrained in so many people, leads directly to situations like a man beating up his partner and her putting up with it.

I know people will throw their arms up in horror and say :How dare you accuse me of causing DV by changing my name" - I don't mean any individiual is responsible, but by changing your name you are contributing to that deep inequality, and thereby directly counteracting feminism.

Feminism is NOT about choice. It is utter nonsense and wibble to say that if a woman chooses to do something, it must be feminist because she's made the choice herself. Wibble. Here are some of the things women freely choose to do - stay with men who beat them up, inflict FGM on their daughters, throw acid in their daughters' faces because they dishonoured the family by looking at a boy, wave their tits around for the Sun, rip their pubic hair out in agony so they can look like a child porn star for men who expect it.

Feminism is about equality and helping each other, and men, to see what that means.

My hard hat is on.

Why, though?

If porn were banned, wouldn't it be illegal?

If you say someone has the right to buy porn, that means that someone else's right not to be working in porn is going to be eroded.

OTOH if I have a right not to see top-shelf mags when I go to the newsagents', that takes away pervy neighbour bloke's right to see them.

You can't uphold everyone's choices.

I've got to say, I do not believe women 'freely' choose to do those things, begonia.

They may do them, and they may do them despite lots of other options being made available, but women don't have free choice in a patriarchial world.

(Nor do most men, I know.)

cat Thu 22-Nov-12 10:35:00

Exactley what YouSeveredHead said.

Surely it's about the right to choose?

Isn't Feminism about having the freedom of choice????

Lancrehotpot Thu 22-Nov-12 10:37:03

I feel that the point, LRD, is that there really are bigger fish to fry. I am not saying that people on this thread shouldn't feel that name-changing is a big issue, but why should others be made to feel un-feminist because they have name-changed, or be told that they can't possibly have considered the implications of their decision?
We are all intelligent enough, men and women, to realise that the name-change expectation is a relic, but we do it anyway because it is tradition and it still has a function (naming the family unit) I don't believe anyone involved changes their modern beliefs about the equality of the marriage partnership on the basis of it, so I just don't think it's as important as people make out. To me, getting concerned about every piece of patriarchal dogma still present in society is like pissing in the wind, but I know that many people feel like those foundations are important and need to be changed so that we can move forwards with the bigger issues.
When I was in my late teens I did read a fair bit of pop-feminism which has stuck with me and often rears its head when I'm listening to friends doing down other women and their choices.
As an example, one of the the 'bigger fish' I'm talking about is the fact that SAHMs can be so quietly derided by women who on paper, tick every feminist box. There is, I agree, a lot of smuggery about. Last weekend, I heard a twenty-one year old talk scathingly about her mother who has 'never worked'. Said mother raised and partially home-educated her four children, but is now an embarrassment to her daughter. Her life is seen as 'wasted'.
The poxiest, most tedious receptionist job (I've had a few, before you ask!)has more worth than that of a SAHM, and I say that having had somebody yet again say that they could never be a SAHM because they 'just need the mental stimulation' that a paid job provides.
I know this argument has been done to death, but the whole thing is such a con. Many, many people, women and men, find stimulation and fulfillment through paid work, but I'll warrant that far more do not. People like Xenia epitomise the attitude I'm talking about. It's not feminism and wanting other women to have power and options; it's a love of superiority and a belief in a meritocracy; if only you did what I did, you would all be successful.

Bloody hell...I apologise for waffling incoherently off topic
DS wriggling around on my lap and he's just learned to biteshock Thanks for a good thread everyone.

BegoniaBigtoes Thu 22-Nov-12 10:37:24

I agree totally LRD - they don't actually freely choose, they just think they do. Hence the confusion about things like working in a strip club being a "feminist" "choice". A woman makes that decision, so some people think feminism has been achieved - despite the fact that she makes it in a context where inequality is so normal and deeply ingrained, it seems like a normal thing to do.

I think that's exactly what is going on with name changing. So many women think it is a free choice and a nice, normal, harmless thing. Yet if they asked their husband to change his name to theirs, it would very rarely go down well. And in many cases what their "choice" means is that deep down, they don't want to be seen as too independent or scary. I also know women who didn't really want to do it, but did it because their husband was a bit shocked at the idea that they wouldn't, and they didn't want to upset him. And I know another couple where the woman has kept her name, but 12 years on from their wedding the bloke still moans about it.

Visitor57 Thu 22-Nov-12 10:38:57

I have heard the 'hated my surname' 'hate my family' reasons from so many women, what do the men who feel like this about their surname do? Quote

Change their name to their mother's surname - or at least that's what my husband did. He has had no contact with his father since he was eight years old. His mother reverted to her maiden name when she retired (her married name was her professional name) so Mr. M became Mr. N at the same time.

We have given our daughter this surname, we discussed it a lot before she was born, but it was really important to him that she had the same name. Especially as we weren't married when she was born (and unmarried fathers have few rights where we are).

We have since married, I have not changed my name, although his surname coupled with my first name is nicer sounding. It is certainly less common popular then mine. If you put my name into a search engine, it will throw up literally thousands of people, my first name with my husband's name only brings up about thirty! I occasionally wind up MIL and my husband by saying I will change to Ms. M but only if they refer to me as Mrs N.

I don't think changing your name makes you less of a feminist.

HoneyDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 10:42:25

Pish Tosh

I was once told I was not a feminist because I did the tea run at work when I was pregnant.

I was also told I was not a feminist because I have always been an Avon rep.

You can be a feminist and choose to change your name.

You can be a feminist and choose to call your self Mrs.

You can be a feminist and choose to say stuff that's a bit thick. wink

OwlLady Thu 22-Nov-12 10:42:26

I actually prefer having a more common surname for the reason that it makes you less identifiable for people trying to stalk you via the internet

lancre - yep, with you there. It's an issue, but women shouldn't be made to feel shit because of it. But I do think it can by symptomatic of bigger issues, as begonia is saying.

It is still an issue I can get really angry about - like when someone says something snotty to me about it in RL, which happens - but maybe that is a slightly separate issue.

begonia - I do know what you mean. This is where I feel it gets into being a bigger issue than it might be, I reckon. Because I suppose it can be a litmus test of the attitudes of people around you. So it's not so much whether you change your name or don't, as how people react to your choice.

I know someone who's recently changed her name after saying she didn't want to, because her DH, it turns out, wasn't very happy with the idea of her keeping her name. And now he's not very happy with the idea she might call herself 'Dr' because he likes to think she is his wife, so could she please use 'Mrs' , and, and ...

It's not really about the name, is it, it's about him being a bit of a twit.

'You can be a feminist and choose to say stuff that's a bit thick.'

You called? grin

HoneyDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 10:45:49

LRD - I can put myself under that heading too grin

OwlLady Thu 22-Nov-12 10:47:06

men who get upset about women not changing their name to theirs are idiots though and I wouldn't have changed my name if it was just done to appease a man idiot. I think that's a completely different point

Excellent, we'll sit here together under the 'Dragon' surname.

BegoniaBigtoes Thu 22-Nov-12 10:48:10

"her DH, it turns out, wasn't very happy with the idea of her keeping her name. And now he's not very happy with the idea she might call herself 'Dr' because he likes to think she is his wife, so could she please use 'Mrs' , and, and ..."

See, the thing is, this is breathtaking inequality writ large, and yet so many people just let it go by because a name, in itself, "doesn't matter". I can see it doesn't matter in the same, immediately practical way that things like equal pay matter, but I still those things are connected. How, how can a man in the modern western world, probably a perfectly nice, reasonable bloke in most ways, put pressure on his wife to become Mrs X instead of Dr Y and she just caves? How can either of them hold their heads up? It's because it's so normalised. But apply the acid test - what if it was the other way round - and it's immediately obvious that it's an unfair and outrageous thing to ask of someone.

owl - that's sort of what I'm trying to say, that it's an indicator of a bloke who may in fact be a bit of an idiot.

OwlLady Thu 22-Nov-12 10:50:28

I can't believe the Dr thing either. Why on earth do women put up with men like this?

BegoniaBigtoes Thu 22-Nov-12 10:50:45

Darling new hubby. I want you to change your surname to mine from next saturday onwards. What do you mean no? Well I'm not very happy with that, why the hell not? Oh and also, I know you're a Dr./Professor/Captain/Major/Judge but I'd rather you didn't use that title any more.

Think about it.

YY, that's what bugs me begonia. And you worry, don't you, because it's not actually normal (or it shouldn't be normal), to be the sort of bloke who thinks it reflects on him what his wife calls herself.

A lot of the women I know who've changed their names are feminists, and have lovely husbands who really would not give a flying fuck about it, and I think that's pretty simple. But increasingly I think women who're youngish are actually getting more pressure about it, and it's really off.

AmandaCooper Thu 22-Nov-12 10:51:12

I would far far rather be told that I have betrayed the cause, or set back the progress of women's rights, or done something disappointing than told its a trivial thing that I shouldn't get worked up about. At least my feelings are validated.

owl - search me, but it's a heck of a red flag, isn't it?!

DH had no opinion either way about my surname. It wasn't his decision to make. I don't think we actually discussed it at all. I stayed ChickensMaidenname on official documents for 9 years anyway as I was too farking lazy to fill out any name change forms, I only got around to it when I needed a new passport. And my bank account is still in Miss. Xname. But socially, I am ChickensMarriedname. We had DS1 before we were married, and I gave him DH's name, again because I actually like DH <daddy ishooos>

AmandaCooper Thu 22-Nov-12 11:01:10

The Dr thing is staggering. Getting a phd is really the only socially acceptable way for women to achieve equality with a man in the way she is addressed. And then her husband just says "I'd prefer you not to use it"! shock

I like my DH. Most of the time.

amanda - medical drs, too? And vicars? They're Dr and Rev. It's funny, but my mate who is training to be a vicar says people keep asking her what her husband's title will be once she's a reverend - they all think somehow it'd change with hers.

HippieHop Thu 22-Nov-12 11:03:03

We both double barrelled when we got married- I didn't want to drop my name and neither did my husband but we both wanted to have the same name as any of our future children so we joined names.My husband did get some stick as he is obviously under my thumb for adding my name grin.

I must say that I don't particulary enjoy having a double barrelled name, especially when people assume it to be a dickish thing to do hmm but it was very much a feminist issue to me, personally.

Well said Begonia, you saved me a lot of typing smile.

The fact that a woman chooses something does in itself not make that choice feminist.

Oh, and in the context of world problems whether women in the UK change their names on marriage is certainly not a big issue. There are far more important feminist (and other) issues - FGM, maternal mortality, domestic violence and many more. But, yes, name change on marreiage is a feminist issue.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Thu 22-Nov-12 11:16:21

I agree that women are very often put under a lot of pressure to change, whether that be by family expectations, actual comments or outright fuss from the husband to be. A family friend had assumed she would keep her name after marriage - it being her name and all, and when this cropped up in conversation a week before the wedding her fiance kicked up an almighty hoo-ha about it. They nearly cancelled the wedding, but then she agreed that she would keep her name until the first child was born and then change it to "match".

Pretending - as so many people on this thread and in general have done - that we're all wandering around in some kind of free choice paradise entirely divorced from outside pressure or historical context - is silly to the point of harmful really.

Loved this: "If you believe in women's humanity, then some woman on the radio telling you xy and z means you're not a feminist, won't put you off. If you're looking for an excuse to get off the bus though, anything will do." I often feel like asking people who say "X really puts me/people off feminism" just when their ardent feminist phase was.

MadameLeBean - can't you just give future DC your surname as well?

littlemrssleepy Thu 22-Nov-12 11:18:24

I don't really understand the feminist argument about changing their name.......given that its most likely their father's anyway.

littlemrssleepy Thu 22-Nov-12 11:19:33

I always remember these wise words:

"If you're going to do something as stupid as get married you might as well do something as stupid as change your name" grin

grin I like that quotation.

But, I don't get the 'father's name' point - surely both your names are given to you by your parents? Those are the names you have from birth.

But I don't expect to be treated like a baby all over again when I get married.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 22-Nov-12 11:27:35

Feminism is not all about choice, though part of feminism is about increasing women's choices where they are limited,

littlemrssleepy Thu 22-Nov-12 11:28:38

What I mean is that for most (I repeat most!) people, their maiden name is their father's family name because their mother would have taken it when they got married (or given it to their children even if they don't use it). So you are refusing to take on your husband's name so you can keep your fathers. Just seems a bit odd to me.

BegoniaBigtoes Thu 22-Nov-12 11:28:48

Yes, my name is my father's name (though interestingly, his name is his mother's name, she was a single mum).

The point about that though is that I have had that name from birth, for whatever reason - it's my name. It may be patriarchal and that's a situation I would like to see change, but the fact is it's my name now. Just as a man's name is his name when he marries, even if it was his dad's. So from that POV, men and women enter marriage on an equal footing. The fact that one gender is generally expected to change their name is sexist, and if they do, even if there's no direct pressure from the man, that is not feminist.

Can they be a feminist, even if they do such an unfeminist thing? I don't know... I just can't see why someone who is a feminist would do it. It's like always making the tea at work because you're the only woman, then saying it's fine because you want to do it and it's a trivial matter. Maybe it is, but you are reinforcing sexism.

I took my DH's surname and don't give two hoots what people think about that.

I'll be honest though, it wasn't my choice alone, someone else had a hand in the decision.

No - not my DH - but my DS1.

DS1 was the result of a failed relationship in my late teens. DH has been DS1's dad since he was 2-years old and had legally adopted him (DS1's real father hasn't ever seen him, not even once).

When making the decision whether to change my surname, I asked DS1 whether he would want to change his (if I did), and he stunned me by saying he would want to change his even if I didn't. He was only 6-years old at the time, but he seemed certain he wanted to share his name with his dad, the man who loved him like his own.

How could I argue with that? That made my decision for me.

Screw what anyone else thinks.

HippieHop Thu 22-Nov-12 11:32:11

In my case my surname isn't my father's, but even if it was it would still be my name which I have had all my life.

But you're not refusing to take your husband's name because he's a -shock, horror - man, are you?

It's just because only women are expected to change their names, as if marriage gives you a totally re-born identity.

tess - that's very sweet.

Oh and I forgot to say, I can't get precious over a name, to me it's just a label. It doesn't change the person inside.

Tess <Married Surname> is still the same person that Tess <Maiden Name> was. Well she's slightly older now, and thinks she's starting to go grey, but other than that.

Woozley Thu 22-Nov-12 11:34:49

I just can't see why someone who is a feminist would do it

For an easy life?

Have everything in one name, not have people referring to me as Mrs W in one context and Miss X in another. So I didn't have to explain every time someone asks why one of us has a different name from the children.

I just don't really need that extra level of admin in my life.

I've explained why I changed my name. And I do consider my self a feminist. Interesting that you say it didn't change you, Tess, because I had the opposite experience. It did change how I felt about myself, and for the better.

I should say, that DS1 is now almost 13 (how did that happen?!), and already has his own opinion on this issue.

He's happy with the decision we made together seven years ago, but he now understands you don't all need to have the same name to be a family, as he has friends where they have different surnames to one of their parents. "They're still a family though Mum."

So he said if he ever gets married, he would never expect his wife to take his surname, and if she did keep her name he wouldn't insist on the children having his surname, "even though it's a really cool surname." grin

When I asked him if he'd consider changing his to hers, he said, "well like I said Mum, our surname is really cool, so I'd double-barrel. I'd want to keep our name. But I wouldn't expect my wife to double-barrel, or the children to have that name, unless my wife wanted it."

<so proud>

BegoniaBigtoes Thu 22-Nov-12 11:51:15

I don't really get that argument woozley. If you keep your name entirely, you don't need two different names or any confusion.

As for the admin, the admin involved in changing your name on all your bank stuff, passport, payslips, contacts etc etc etc is quite major isn't it?

Chickens - I think it probably did change how I felt about myself, but it didn't change me as a person, in terms of how others see me. Does that make sense?

I didn't have a personality transplant overnight, is what I was trying to say!

Yes, Tess, I get you. I have a large trunk of baggage around names, so I suppose it felt a bit like a rebirth for me, and a welcome one. If changing my name was unfeminist, I can live with that. It made a huge difference to my mental health <toddles off to more light hearted threads>.

feelingdizzy Thu 22-Nov-12 11:58:02

For me I got married in my early 20s (14 years ago) I took my husbands name,I probably wouldn't make the same choice again.My original surname is truly horrible(joke worthy)
My married name is what I was known at in my career .I divorced with 2 kids in my late 20s I wanted to keep the sur name as not changing my name back was claiming this name as mine . I also wanted to have the same surname as my children.
About 4 years ago I returned to Ireland,people presumed that my current name was my birth name.So when my parents moved to the area everyone in the area thought that was their surname.My Dad was not happy being referred to as Mr ex husband name!!

Furoshika Thu 22-Nov-12 11:59:28

A name is essentially a random word that becomes attached to you. However bad things feel at times, we are NOT chattels to be traded between men any longer. Traditions endure - the tradition varies according to your society, another random element you are born into - and personally I feel neutral about the tradition of name-changing on marriage.

However, I am surprised by the number of women who behave as though choosing to call yourself your original name is an act of distasteful and childish rebellion. I will call myself what I want, thanks, same as they do. hmm

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 12:04:43

The history of name changing is the woman being passed from father to husband like a parcel, just a change of ownership with the owner's label attached.

That doesn't sit comfortably with feminism as far as I am concerned.

Lottapianos Thu 22-Nov-12 12:06:11

'When a woman changes her name on marriage, but doesn't expect her husband to do the same, it tells her husband, her kids, her colleagues, and basically everyone in the world "As a woman I am not as important as him". It just does'

Completely agree Begonia. My best friend has recently had a baby and has changed her last name to her DH's, which is also baby's last name. I feel downright sad about this - her own name reflects her Italian heritage (of which she is very proud) and her DP is a total twunt. She made the choice a long time ago that he is the most important person in their marriage and this name-change is just another example of that. She's my friend and I wish I could shake her by the shoulders and tell her that she is worth so much more than him, but hey, it's her choice so I keep my nose where it belongs. But I think she's being a fool.

I wouldn't say that name-changing means that you can't be a feminist but I do think that feminists who change their name to their husbands are kidding themselves about their reasons for doing it and the message it sends. And protesting that it's like such a completely trivial issue is a total cop-out IMHO.

<borrows Begonia's hard hat>

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 12:07:15

I agree.

Waspie Thu 22-Nov-12 12:12:38

"The history of name changing is the woman being passed from father to husband like a parcel, just a change of ownership with the owner's label attached.

That doesn't sit comfortably with feminism as far as I am concerned. "

Yes, this.

It's the social assumption that a woman will change her name that needs to be broken. That way if a woman does change her name, for whatever reason, it will be an active, rather than a passive, decision made by her.

I have the same name as my son. DP often gets called Mr Waspie as a result but he's a grown up - he can handle it and if he felt that strongly about having the same name as his son he could change his to our name.

Furoshika Thu 22-Nov-12 12:13:44

But the whole chattel/property thing is gone (on the whole). What we have left over is a naming tradition which is in turn slowly dying out. Just a tradition, not a rule or a law. I feel really very neutral about people changing or 'keeping' their names in any context. Marriage is about togetherness for loads of us and changing your name can be part of advertising your cohesion, perhaps? (I don't know, I'm not a name changer.)

OatyBeatie Thu 22-Nov-12 12:14:03

I kept my own name. For me would have seemed odd not too. But I don't attach a huge moral weight to whether a woman decides to use her husband's name or her father's (father's father's ...) name, which successively obliterates women over generations. There are more important decisions.

Oh, I was well aware of the message I was sending, Lotta. But I agree it is not a trivial issue <twitches>

I'm sorry, but I do think it's a trivial matter. Like I said, I can't get worked up about whether a woman changes her name or not, to me names are just labels.

I know what the whole name change thing used to stand for, but that isn't what it stands for now, just as marriage doesn't stand for what it used to either.

If you choose to keep your name, that's great, and I certainly don't see it as rebellion or whatever. I simply see it as a choice.

To judge someone for the decision they made, as to whether to keep their name or change it, is quite frankly ridiculous. I'm a better person than to judge someone about that.

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 12:19:05

That is nonsense, Tess. You may think yourself a better person, but that doesn't make you one.

And all the little "trivial" things go together to form the great big one that is the position of women still: second class.

Lottapianos Thu 22-Nov-12 12:20:06

'I feel really very neutral about people changing or 'keeping' their names in any context'

But it's not just 'people' - it's almost always women. It's virtually always the man's name that is adopted as the 'family' name.

I hate my last name - no-one can spell it or say it correctly - and I have a horrible relationship with my parents. I have no attachment to it whatsoever but I can't imagine changing it because I would never want people to assume that I had taken DP's name, which is probably what most people would think, and I am deeply uncomfortable with the message that would send.

AmandaCooper Thu 22-Nov-12 12:21:29

Perhaps the important task for our generation is to support our son's wives in keeping their own names and passing them on to our grandchild if they wish to.

Furoshika Thu 22-Nov-12 12:25:15

Look, I'm not a person who changed my name.
But whatever things were like in the past, we live in a country where
- a person can legally call herself anything s/he wants
- a family can exist with more than one surname with next to no problems
- a man can change to the woman's surname on marriage if desired
- or the couple can pluck something out of thin air and all change
- at pretty much any time in their relationship
- the biggest issue with names seems to be snotty attitudes, not actual legal problems

It's weight of numbers that makes this an issue: women are still changing because it's 'what you do' but that's a hangover from times when it was indeed what you had to do (unless you were an upper class woman marrying beneath herself). We are arguing over a battle which has been won. Unlike the 23746 other battles like the pay gap and FGM etc.

Hully - so you think it's acceptable to make judgments about another woman, if she has changed her name?

I don't. So yes, it makes me the better person.

Ahardyfool Thu 22-Nov-12 12:25:42

Ugh, it's the trivilisation of such matters that allows misogyny to carry on creeping over every life situation - often subtly - and allows female progression beyond ownership and dictatorship by males to crawl along at a snail's pace in reality.

Brasssection Thu 22-Nov-12 12:26:16

My name is my name. My dad has his own name. My nose is mine, though it looks just like his. Or is it really his because he gave it to me?

Lanacre no one here said this was the most important issue in the world, but I would have put my mortage on the fact that someone would soon pop up to tell us that there were 'bigger fish to fry' (as if we didn't know).

I would also put my mortage on the fact that there are few men thinking and arguing about this and wondering if whether they change their name or not reflects their political identities and ideas. They don't have to. The onus is on women to change, justify, explain, tell themselves it doesn't matter because the name they've had all their lives isn't really theirs anyway, is horrible etc...

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 12:27:58

Tess, your argument is fallacious.

EuroShagmore Thu 22-Nov-12 12:29:58

I don't understand the argument "you choose between your husband's name and your father's name". Your name has been your name since birth. Before that is was my father's yes and also my mother's (by marriage). But the point is that it is MY name and has been all my life.

Nor do I get the "you can't double-barrel because your children will end up with 4 names upon marriage" argument. Er no. They can choose their surname upon marriage as I did. They might choose to change names to their spouse's. They might choose to mix one from one side and one from the other. They might pick something entirely new for their family. They will be adults capable of making their own decisions and choices.

I am always a little surprised (and I suppose, disappointed) at how many women do still change their names in this day and age, but it is a matter of personal choice. IMHO you can still be a feminist if you take your husband's name, but by not taking it, you are making a feminist statement.

Waspie Thu 22-Nov-12 12:30:04

Tess wrote: "I asked DS1 whether he would want to change his (if I did), and he stunned me by saying he would want to change his even if I didn't. He was only 6-years old at the time, but he seemed certain he wanted to share his name with his dad, the man who loved him like his own."

I don't understand how this story can be anything other than a positive argument to keep your own family name (whether adopted or inherited) throughout your life and not give it up simply to pander to out of date traditions confused

Furoshika Thu 22-Nov-12 12:30:13

Lotta I am the same with my name: I don't have a great attachment to it (usual parent difficulties/it's not particularly mellifluous) but the thought of the sentimentality that I think is the main driver for women to change made it a total no-no.

I firmly believe that many women (as you rightly point out) change because they buy into the whole cheesefest that is the wedding industry and ascribe a lot of false symbolism to the act of changing their name - in the same way that they like a big white dress and cutting the cake.

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 12:32:34

I agree, Furo, they are not doing it with ownership at the forefront of their minds BUT namechanging is freighted very heavily with historical meaning and continues ot be so.

Perhaps if all name changing was stopped for 100 years to make sure the freight was jettisoned, people could then start agian deciding whether to choose a name, change a name etc.

Lottapianos Thu 22-Nov-12 12:33:22

'I would also put my mortage on the fact that there are few men thinking and arguing about this and wondering if whether they change their name or not reflects their political identities and ideas. They don't have to'

When my mate brought up the name-changing issue with her DH before their wedding, she suggested in a jokey way that maybe he would change his name to hers. He was absolutely horrified and said that if they had children and they gave the children her last name, his father would actually disown him. Now he and his father are enormous twunts, but I think this attitude is widespread. It is down to women to change and accommdate and assimilate into his life (usually) rather than the other way round.

Yet another reason why inclusion of gay couples in marriage laws would be such a great thing - I am no fan of marriage but equal marriage would shake up all these old notions of what women do in marriage and what men do in marraige and make the situation more equal for everybody.

Lottapianos Thu 22-Nov-12 12:35:14

grin at 'cheesefest' weddings - like it!

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 12:36:02

Who was it who said that when thinking about whether to do a thing or not, look at the men and see if they are doing it...?

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 12:36:59

I don't think "Mrs" sits well with femininsm either.

Lottapianos Thu 22-Nov-12 12:37:14

Hully, I think that was Caitlin Moran. Not a huge fan of hers but she does come out with some gems and that's one!

Furoshika Thu 22-Nov-12 12:37:40

Hully, is it? Is it really still thought of is ownership? I just don't see that.
I think people find it easy if a couple has the same name, because categorising them as 'together' takes no thought. They don't think much further beyond that, surely?

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 12:40:14

No it isn't (see above) but it carries the freight of those associations and connotations: the woman is assimilated into the man with his name. Come on, she changes her identity label to his!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 22-Nov-12 12:41:34

Euro agree 100% with your first point

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 12:41:34

oh yes, lotta, it was her. It is a good one. Simple and effective.

Kendodd Thu 22-Nov-12 12:41:34

I kept my name and really don't understand why anyone would ever change their name just because they got married. The DCs are double barrelled. In 16 years his has never caused any problems whatsoever.

To all the women saying "I hated my name so took DH's name when we married" if you hated it so much why didn't you change it before? Genuine question.

My cousin has changed her and her DC's names four times. She is now back using her birth name (although may get married again, I don't know what she'll do then). I don't know what name her (now adult) DCs use.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 22-Nov-12 12:42:18

Euro agree 100% with your first point

Furoshika Thu 22-Nov-12 12:44:14

What do you feel when a man changes his surname to his wife's?
I know it's rare as hen's teeth but it does happen.

I also know a lesbian couple who recently had a CP and have blended. I just see that as a slightly unnecessary but well-meant sentimental gesture. A marriage isn't the name of itself.

Kendodd Thu 22-Nov-12 12:47:31

What do you feel when a man changes his surname to his wife's?

I don't think it's so bad because he is clearly not doing it just because everybody else does. Bit unnecessary though.

Furoshika Thu 22-Nov-12 12:50:06

Unnecessary, exactly. I do wish more women felt the same confused

Kendodd Thu 22-Nov-12 12:51:43

I remember a midwife said to me once she wished more children had their mothers last name, just because it makes it so much easier to find people.

That's another mystery to me just giving a child his dads name with to reference whatsoever to the mother. It just makes no sense to me.

PixieHot Thu 22-Nov-12 12:51:52

I haven't read the whole thread as I'm on my lunch break, but what the hey, here's my tuppence worth smile.

I'm Dr DH name, or Ms DH name at a push. I like it - I lost my family name, which was slightly OTT with my forename, and was apparently difficult to say / spell, and that I didn't feel overly attached to anyway. I gained a simple surname that I share with my lovely DH and DS. Overall, I'm relatively happy with my decision.

Interesting point about keeping your Dad's name versus taking your DH's name <muses>.

Lottapianos Thu 22-Nov-12 12:51:58

'I don't think it's so bad because he is clearly not doing it just because everybody else does. Bit unnecessary though'

Ditto. I would hate for DP to take my name because I would see it as him 'joining my family' - and we are both best off as far away from my family as possible! We would love to have a CP one day (waiting patiently) but wouldn't do any name changing if/when we do. Not planning on any children but honestly not sure what we would do - maybe my name to one, his name to the other? Assuming we had two confused

seeker Thu 22-Nov-12 12:54:43

I think that women who say this is a trivial point, or who go on about there being no difference between a father's name and a husband's, or who justify changing by saying how horrible and ugly their name was are just doing what some women have always done. They are disassociating themselves from other women who want to rock the boat, and making it very clear that the status quo suits them very nicely, thank you.

HoneyDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 12:58:48

I agree with Hully with it not sitting comfortably with feminist ideology.

What message does it send? I have been married for 11 years. I have always been a Ms. The majority of people I worked with and the majority of parents and teachers at school have always tended to assume I am unmarried.

Before I got married I had a chat with my Dad. He said to me that a name is a gift. It's a gift given with love not expectation and its up to you what you choose to do with it.

OatyBeatie Thu 22-Nov-12 12:59:48

I don't think that's quite right, seeker. I mentioned below that I thought it a relatively unimportant issue, and I "rocked the boat" to the extent that I kept my own name and arranged with my dh that our children will also have my name.

I was reacting to the form of words in the thread title, which suggests women being given a hard time for a choice they have made and being told that other people know better than they do how adequate their feminism is.

I just think that there are many more important ways of bringing you feminism into your life than this particular matter, and that it doesn't seem fair to judge women on this issue. There might be family reasons why they make a different decision to the one I made.

Furoshika Thu 22-Nov-12 13:00:34

That's an interesting point, seeker.

Brasssection Thu 22-Nov-12 13:25:55

Agreed seeker. If it really didn't matter so much I doubt we'd have so many people lining up to defend this practice.

Lottapianos Thu 22-Nov-12 13:29:51

Also agree with seeker. People who moan about how totally trivial something is get on my wick anyway - there's loads of it on MN these days <grr>

Bue Thu 22-Nov-12 13:32:30

Great post, seeker. Totally agree. Three women on my university course have been married in the past few months and all of us have kept our names. When I realised that my heart actually sang with joy.

HoneyDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 13:33:54

I don't like being told whether or not I am a feminist. I have never been told that on Mnet.

Only in rl by people who choose to describe themselves as intellectuals. So in a way this thread has made me feel defensive. But not because of my name.

Lottapianos Thu 22-Nov-12 13:35:51

'When I realised that my heart actually sang with joy'


Good for you. And them.

Out of all the hundreds of women I have been at uni with/met socially/worked with/been friends with, only 3 have not changed their names to their husbands, and two of those went double-barrel. It's sad and confused. One friend said 'oh well I'll always be a <maidenname> at heart' Well why are you changing your name then??? headdesk

furo - I'm going to quote you because it's a bit back up the thread - you said: 'We are arguing over a battle which has been won. Unlike the 23746 other battles like the pay gap and FGM etc.'

I'm not sure we are.

I can see that the pay gap and FGM are more tangible issues than women changing their names, which has for a very long time now only had symbolic value. Yes, women are no longer their husbands' property. But I think even though the issues around what name you use are more difficult to quantify, they are still real issues and we haven't 'won' yet. All the little things ultimately do add up.

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 13:38:38

I agree with Seeker.

Also I'd like to add, if it's such an unimportant thing, how come so many people make such an almighty fuss about it?

I regularly get teachers, medics etc., flustered, shocked, disapproving, non-plussed etc., because I don't have the same name as my DC's.

Like so many other things in life, it's a battle that's been legally won but it has hardly even started socially.

If it mattered so little, I wouldn't be getting such ridiculous reactions from other people as I stumble through life, just for having a different surname from my DC's and people wouldn't be getting so defensive about the whole subject.

It clearly does still matter, as this thread shows.

Kendodd Thu 22-Nov-12 13:45:34

"because I don't have the same name as my DC's."

Did you give your DCs your DH's name then?

Furoshika Thu 22-Nov-12 13:50:35

Well ok having thought further I will concede that LRD smile

I've always found it to be a tricky one to dissect, because I know so many women who are full on feminists who have nevertheless changed their names. They don't fall into seeker's description of women who are happy with the status quo: they might be actively fighting to change society, living their words, spreading their successes. I can't condemn them for having changed their names. (At least one I know is a feminist activist, and does struggle with her name, but puts it down to having gone a bit soppy at the time of the marriage grin)

I truly don't think that we need to look further than 'it's somewhat traditional' and lump it in with all the other shit that's 'somewhat traditional' around weddings. With a bit of pursed lips from parents in there somewhere.

Having said that, there is a definite group of women who like to sneer at people who do differently, and knowing a few and having been on the receiving end, I like seeker's explanation as it fits them all to a T. Very conservative and dependent on their husbands. I find them sad but they make me angry inside too. I dislike having my own identity questioned, deeply. If there weren't something easy to point out, I have no doubt they'd be finding fault for other reasons, though.

Furoshika Thu 22-Nov-12 13:53:00

Fastidia, do you really get trouble for having different names? Apart from a few twits in a social context, I have never once had a problem with having a different name from my husband or children. (For the record...we gave the children his name because it's a lot nicer than mine. I've come to regret this slightly because it simply mirrors tradition but it's done now.)

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 13:57:04

I don't get into trouble as such. It just causes embarrassed flusterings IYSWIM.

No-one's demanding explanations or anything, it's just a "oh one of those different types" response.

Slightly wearing, but no big deal.

Still "different" though. Different enough for it to not be utterly unnoticed, utterly trivial, not an issue anymore, etc. - all that stuff some people are saying which clearly isn't true.

Furoshika Thu 22-Nov-12 14:03:20

Interesting. I must have a touch of the hard stare about me because I get NO SHIT from officialdom grin
A reminder not to extrapolate from my own experience.

Woozley Thu 22-Nov-12 14:07:50

Who was it who said that when thinking about whether to do a thing or not, look at the men and see if they are doing it...?

What an arse-badgeringly stupid rule to follow. Says that only stuff men do is valid. I shall immediately renounce my membership of the WI hmm

DH was quite happy to take my surname if I'd have asked him to, or we could have double-barrelled. We discussed all the options. I chose to take his since he was so reasonable and I liked his name. If he'd been named Poobottom I'd have rethought.

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 14:13:06

Don't think that was quite the rule Woozley.

It was more "if the claim is that it's empowering, does it empower men when they do it?"

IE, where do men get their power from, versus where do women get their power-lite from?

OatyBeatie Thu 22-Nov-12 14:13:47

I've never had any trouble at all with keeping my own name, or with my family's decision to give our children my name rather than my dh's. He has never had a problem either.

I do feel surprised when women take their husbands name, or regard their children's names as a foregone conclusion (i.e. the same as dad's). But I just never see it as something to judge women about: among older women, they might have decided to avoid a particular battle that would be administratively irritating every single day, to concentrate on other battles that might have more effect on their qality of life or that of their children. Among younger women, it may be that they see the battle about names as a done deal, where other battles are still far more pressing (or that they have family reasons that I have no idea about). I'd always assume that they focus their feminist efforts in areas that make most sense for them.

Woozley Thu 22-Nov-12 14:16:32

^ I don't really get that argument woozley. If you keep your name entirely, you don't need two different names or any confusion.^

As for the admin, the admin involved in changing your name on all your bank stuff, passport, payslips, contacts etc etc etc is quite major isn't it?

Not once you have done it all. The children would have to have one surname or the other so there would be fairly regular confusion caused by that. Not the least if the non-matching surname parent wanted to take them abroad on holiday. If I were professionally so well established that changing my name would cause me to lose business or clients or whatever I could understand it. But otherwise it would seem pointless going through the rigmarole of getting married and then appearing as if unmarried to everyone. Sorry, but I didn't want to appear unmarried with children. I am not judgemental about other people having children and not being married, but it's not something I wanted for myself. Of course the best thing would be if we were all Mrs or Miss so you wouldn't know anyway, but you'd still have the surname issue.

Lottapianos Thu 22-Nov-12 14:24:00

'What an arse-badgeringly stupid rule to follow. Says that only stuff men do is valid'

Actually, the rule was to do with deciding whether something is sexist or not. Is women changing their names on marriage a sexist practice? Do men do it too? Generally - no. So yes, it is sexist.

It works well I find smile

Blistory Thu 22-Nov-12 14:26:17

I get annoyed with the whole pride thing. That somehow retaining your own name diminishes your husband but you're both proud that you now add a different collection of letters to the end of your name. What an achievement.

And as for trading one man's name for another, my father didn't just give his name to me, he also gave it to my brothers and if they don't have to give it up or question it, why should I ? As for children, why do women feel they have to give their children their husband or partner's name - I've never understood the responses I get that they feel it somehow diminishes the father's role if they don't. So the man gets appeased yet again, his wife, his children.

Furoshika Thu 22-Nov-12 14:27:46

There is no problem with differently-surnamed parents taking children abroad.

OatyBeatie Thu 22-Nov-12 14:29:14

No, dh has taken ours abroad without me, without any issues whatsoever.

Blistory Thu 22-Nov-12 14:31:05

There can be an issue and it's recommended that you travel with the birth certificate or a letter of consent from the parent with the same surname as a child. Just had that spat recently at the Canadian border travelling with an unmarried friend who gave her child the father's surname.

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 14:41:07

Actually passport control is one of the places I've never had any trouble re having a different name from my kids.

It's more everyday parochial places who get their knickers in a twist about it.

AdoraJingleBells Thu 22-Nov-12 14:45:04

I chose to keep my name and tag OH's on. It wasn't a feminist issue for me, it was a me issue.

Could be misconstrued as a feminist issue though, because I was partly remaining myself and partly refusing to become just another Mrs X in an extended family with mostly male offspring.

I agree with OP, it sometimes seems like you aren't allowed in the club unless you do/don't do the right things. Thatparole of the reasons why I don't describe myself as a feminist, despite my beliefs.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 22-Nov-12 14:47:24

I think for certain countries it's wise to have the letter of consent to travel with just one parent regardless of surname because of heightened fears of parental kidnapping.

summerflower Thu 22-Nov-12 15:35:17

>>There can be an issue and it's recommended that you travel with the birth certificate or a letter of consent from the parent with the same surname as a child. Just had that spat recently at the Canadian border travelling with an unmarried friend who gave her child the father's surname.<<

I did not ever have an issue travelling with DD, who has her father's surname, and we travelled extensively. I'd happily travel with her birth certificate, but I'd laugh if anyone suggested her father needed to provide a letter of consent as he left when she was a baby and does not contribute to her upkeep or show much responsiblity for her.

However, the one and only time I have travelled alone with DD and DS (thus three different surnames) I did get questioned. They both have my surname as well, but it's clear that they have different fathers, and I very much felt that was a judgement rather than a child safety issue.

AnnoyedAtWork Thu 22-Nov-12 15:44:53

Agree with Hully that "Mrs" would feel uncomfortable for me as a feminist. In fact it makes me cringe a bit. Think even if I take DP name would still call self Ms

HippieHop Thu 22-Nov-12 15:49:46

I also struggle to understand why a woman would give her child the father's surname over their own. There are a few women I know who aren't married but choose to disregard their name in favour for their partner's when naming their child. I wouldn't do this in a million years- I just don't get it.

Bue Thu 22-Nov-12 15:51:53

The border thing isn't about surnames, it's about child protection. Many countries (Canada included) specify that all children should have their birth certificate and a letter of consent from the other parent, when travelling with only one of them. Parental abduction does not discriminate with regard to surnames!

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 15:53:21

I did it HippieHop

I think it was because I had a vague idea that I'd have a work name and a home name and that eventually I'd change it to his for use when dealing with schools, medical authorities etc.

Seemed like a good idea at the time but I wouldn't do the same now. Would just give them my surname name.

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 15:55:35

That's bloody ridiculous.

What if you don't have regular contact with the other parent?

I'd be well pissed off if I had to ask my xp, who has no PR and very little contact with his kids, for his permission to take my kids on holiday.

BelaLugosisShed Thu 22-Nov-12 16:00:20

I'm a Mrs and a feminist Hully, I'm married to my husband, therefore I am a Mrs and happy to be categorised as such.
The only thing I do wish is that there was a title for a married man that categorised him as such.
Whatever my daughter wants to do with her name if and when she marries is up to her but I think it's important for a family to have the same surname, whomever it first "belonged" to.

Furoshika Thu 22-Nov-12 16:02:44

Titles are largely useless these days. I prefer not to use one at all. I'm not interested in people's marital status, and fail to see why categorising men as married or unmarried would be a step forward.

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 16:06:40

I think every woman over 18 should be called Mrs.

Like on the continent.

Miss only for little girls.

Then it would have no political connotations.

It is just a shortening of Mistress.

summerflower Thu 22-Nov-12 16:07:21

I understand the child safety issues - the point was that no-one ever asked re DD, but as soon as I had DS as well, I was challenged.

Another instance, travelling with DH2, we had DSD as well who has her mother's name, so four surnames between us, and we were not challenged.

So, yes, I think it was because I was a lone woman travelling with two children with different fathers. The questions were not, do you have the fathers' permissions, it was how come they have different surnames from you? I don't know, they were just two random kids I stole??

Maybe I will just change both to my names as I look after them and pay for them and then no-one will bat an eyelid.

Bue Thu 22-Nov-12 16:15:50

summerflower sorry I wasn't actually replying to your post, but the one above about the issue at the Canadian border! Was just trying to point out that they are quite fastidious about these things and the issue wasn't necessarily related to having different surnames.

OatyBeatie Thu 22-Nov-12 16:17:17

Request for title information on forms is a bit of a nonsense. If forms need gender, marital, qualifications info, they can ask, so title info conveys nothing extra. I suppose they request title info only so that they can address people by the title they prefer, so the trick will be to convey to a million bureaucracies that the preferred title is none at all.

summerflower Thu 22-Nov-12 16:19:26

No worries, I think they should be fastiduous, to be honest, but consistently!

Bue Thu 22-Nov-12 16:22:45

Thinking about your experience though, depending on how it was said I think I too would feel judged. I suppose they have a relatively short time to 'assess' a situation and are trying to gather a lot of info quickly, but I can't see how different surnames are particularly relevant.

While I don't particularly care what individuals do, I think the issue of name-changing will only cease to be an issue when name-changing on marriage is equal between men and women, and when children's surnames are equally split between dads' surnames and mums' surnames (where different)

Wish I could find some statistics, but from the people I know I'm guessing it would be:

women changing to DH surname on 1st marriage: 95%
women keeping their own name on 1st marriage: 5% (maybe more on 2nd marriage)
men changing to DW surname on 1st marriage: 0
double-barrelling on marriage: 0

where the parents' surnames are different:
kids getting dad's surname: 99%
kids getting mum's surname: 0
kids getting double-barrelled: 1% (me smile)

Oh, and for you people who keep on about choice, sure you can choose but why should feminists automatically approve of that choice? Would you expect feminists to approve if you:

- chose to accept lower pay than a man doing the same job, because why not, it's more important to him?
- chose to bring up your daughters to cook and clean and your sons to sit around being waited on (after all women are just better at cooking and cleaning!)?
- chose to vote against women bishops?

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 17:09:20

I think anyone who thinks feminism is all about choice, has a really basic misunderstanding of what it is tbh.

It's the political movement for the emancipation and liberation of women.

Feminists made choices possible for women, but that's not the point of it, that's a side-effect. Feminism isn't all about choice, libertarianism is.

monsterchild Thu 22-Nov-12 17:22:49

I took my Dh's name, after a long conversation with him about it. I had thought of going the double barrel, but it sounded like an illness. And I'd like my kids to have the same name as both parents.

I don't think your name is a hallmark of feminism, it is more a pride issue or a lineage issue. It is a lineage issue with my Dh. He is the only son, and none of his sisters have children. So the name either dies with his generation (it's unusual) or his kids have it. I don't like the idea of his surname disappearing from these parts...

Woozley Thu 22-Nov-12 17:47:59

I would just find it very weird, being married, to see "Mr Woozley and Ms/Mrs Maidenname" for one thing. Also it would look like an homage to a film actor as our names together spell his name, and I don't particularly like him as he was a Romney supporter.

I also think on this thread is the sort of thing that puts people off feminism. Sorry dear, you are being subjugated by the patriarchy but you just don't know it. Why not accept in this case, that people make different, informed choices?

I don't give a flying fuck what the history of marriage is or whether you think I'm cowtowing to the patriarchy in changing my name. The important thing is to me you marry someone who considers you an equal who is worthy of you and your marriage is what you make of it together. That's what I'll be passing on to my daughters, and I've already told them you don't have to get married at all and that girls can marry girls too- as they have seen going to a civil partnership ceremony of my best friend.

To be anti marriage for these reasons to me is a bit like saying you don't like school because they used to use corporal punishment.

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 17:51:27

If you are so happy and confident in your "different and informed choice", why are you so cross about the way others see it?

Whereas I feel very uncomfortable being addressed as Mr and Mrs Hissurname, it is always Mr Hissurname and Ms Hersurname here. I hate the term maiden name as well, I have a surname, if I ever changed my name I would have a previous surname.

Blistory Thu 22-Nov-12 18:03:05

I also think on this thread is the sort of thing that puts people off feminism. Sorry dear, you are being subjugated by the patriarchy but you just don't know it. Why not accept in this case, that people make different, informed choices?

Because the reasons given often show that it wasn't an informed choice. It is to do with pressure and social expectations - all of which have a historical context.

I have yet to meet a man who hasn't been offended when his wife refused to take his name. No doubt many men do exist but I suspect they remain in a minority and it leads me to question what other underlying sexist beliefs they have that they might not be aware of. These beliefs shape society so yes, as a feminist, I think they should be challenged.

OatyBeatie Thu 22-Nov-12 18:06:52

That surprises me, Blistory. I've yet to meet a man who has been offended by his wife's decision not to take his name.

"I have yet to meet a man who hasn't been offended when his wife refused to take his name."

I should introduce you to my DH then smile. He couldn't care less about it. My mum, on the other hand, wondered why I was bothering to get married if I wasn't going to take DH's name hmm.

AmandaCooper Thu 22-Nov-12 18:13:17

I know it's hard not to but I don't think we should be criticising the choices other women make when they choose something that does not advance feminism. If we are to direct our disapproval anywhere it should be at whatever is causing women to make anti feminist choices in the first place. A woman may well accept a lower wage than a man if she needs the work and who would judge her for that? Pregnant women and new mothers are not in an equal bargaining position relative to their partners. You can't blame them for not wanting to rock the boat. Anyone who struggles to understand why a woman would give her child the father's surname over her own must be living in a lovely utopian bubble.

My DH doesn't mind in the slightest that we both use our own names. He gets mistakenly called Mr Mysurname and just goes along with it, the same as I do if I get called Mrs Hissurname.

Blistory Thu 22-Nov-12 18:16:49

Sorry, I should clarify - I have met many who claimed not to be bothered but were happy to express their more honest beliefs when talking about me rather than their own wives. I've had many a man explain to me why DP would be offended by my stance and how deep down they felt rejected when it happened to them. My own DP has admitted that although the situation will never arise with us, he'd be a little hurt but would never let it show as he respects my position. He's never really been able to express quite why he would feel hurt and I suspect that he tolerates my position rather than understands it. So openly he would express support but it would really be about face saving in front of his friends and family.

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 18:19:19

"I also think on this thread is the sort of thing that puts people off feminism."

Like I said upthread, some people are quite easily put off.


OatyBeatie Thu 22-Nov-12 18:22:12

I think a position that relies on men being more truthful with you than they are when they speak with other people is not a very useful one in a discussion. I could just as easily claim that men are being more honest when they speak to me and say that they aren't bothered!

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 18:23:44

I think people should bear in mind that critiquing a practice, is not the same as criticising an individual's choice or the reasons for that choice.

There is sometimes a fine line and sometimes people stray over it; but people who get angry about other people analyses a practice and trying to understand why and how it happens and interpret that discussion as a criticism of a choice they have made, usually do so either because they're a bit insecure about that choice or because they don't believe it's valid to critique it. And why would a critique be invalid?

I personally couldn't give a flying fuck what choices individual women make. I do give a fuck about the circumstances in which they make those choices and I am interested in hearing people's opinions about it.

Blistory Thu 22-Nov-12 18:28:00

I was clear that I said that no doubt many men do exist who genuinely aren't offended so not sure why I need to be presented with individual examples of your DHs.

I don't assume that they're more truthful with me, but that they appear to be more truthful ABOUT me and have an opinion on my stance about keeping my name which I find strange when compared with their stance about their own partners.

Mintberry Thu 22-Nov-12 18:29:52

Well, she's not a feminist because she has kept her father's name. I will be changing my name to Ms. Estrogen when I get married, because I am the only true feminist around here.

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 18:30:56

I've always said we should do a Malcolm X and just call ourselves X.


FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 18:31:15

That could get very confusing for the Census people though.

whistlestopcafe Thu 22-Nov-12 18:34:09

My surname was my mothers first husband's name (not my fathers). I changed it when I got married because I had more of a connection to dh than my mothers first husband who I had never met.

AmandaCooper Thu 22-Nov-12 18:35:21

My DH was not comfortable with the idea of me keeping my name and giving the DC any other name. Given that plenty of people (including the various mysogynistic types with whom he is required to do business) would have regarded that choice as hysterical, dramatic and attention seeking and would no doubt have labelled me as one of those 'mad feminist types', I did sympathise with him not wanting me to make a political statement on this one occasion. 'Rejecting' his name would have upset his family as well and I was and still am keen to nurture a positive relationship with them for all our sakes.

Blistory Thu 22-Nov-12 18:39:22

"My surname was my mothers first husband's name (not my fathers). I changed it when I got married because I had more of a connection to dh than my mothers first husband who I had never met"

This is the kind of response I don't understand. Did you feel more of a connection to dh's father that you took his name ? Genuinely curious.

AmandaCooper Thu 22-Nov-12 18:39:26

I don't think he would have been "offended".

SomersetONeil Thu 22-Nov-12 18:40:38

Amanda - for what it's worth, I really relate to all you have written. smile

<makes mental note for the future, assuming DS is not gay and marries a woman of course, to encourage any future DILs to keep their own name, if they're in any way inclined>

Blistory Thu 22-Nov-12 18:42:42

Amanda I don't have a problem with you taking your husband's name in itself but you appear to be saying that you did so because of the negative impact that doing otherwise would have. And that's where the issue lies for me. Not on you taking his name but the reasons you describe for doing so.

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 18:45:38


SomersetONeil Thu 22-Nov-12 18:46:28

And therein lies one individual's compromise with the patriarchy.

I also have taken my DH's name, for reasons outlined on page 1. I'm not entirely proud of the decision. I think it is a big deal and as I say, my decision doesn't sit all that well with my principles, if I'm entirely honest. But it was my compromise to make. Along with others I make every day.

I'm still a feminist at heart, and always will be.

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 18:47:15

(Altho equally you could have just laughed at them all, refused to engage with the debate because it is frankly RIDICULOUS, and encouraged them to step froth from the nineteenth century)

AmandaCooper Thu 22-Nov-12 18:48:24

Don't we all do things to avoid negative consequences all the time? I'm not saying it's an honourable reason, it's not.

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 18:49:41

My dh's elderly father was a member of a very obscure religious sect, as traditional as they come etc, and yet when I told him of course I wouldn't be changing my name, he asked why, and I explained. Once one has explained, there is nothing to argue with. There is quite literally no rational opposition to the position.

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 18:50:06

In order for evil to triumph Amanda....

whistlestopcafe Thu 22-Nov-12 18:52:16

Blistory - Yes I did feel more of a connection to dh's father as I had met him and he hadn't left his wife and kids for his secretary (yes that old chestnut).

I was estranged from my own father at the time so it didn't feel right to take his name at the time, plus I didn't even know what it was. I looked at my mother's family tree and decided against taking her parents names, my maternal grandfather was by all accounts a scary character who beat his children and my maternal grandmother had a name that I didn't want to take for shallow reasons, if you have a choice you don't lumber yourself with a name like Pratt. hmm.

I did toy with the idea of changing my name to something exotic and glamorous but it seemed a little pretentious and taking dh's name seemed the logical thing to do.

Out of interest what would you have chosen in my situation?

SomersetONeil Thu 22-Nov-12 18:54:36

Nobody was forcing - or even asking - me to do anything*Hully*. The reasons are more than that...

And this is why it's ridiculous to say it's a trivial issue. (Amusing side note that it took Exotic, what, 4 or 5 posts in a row to stress exactly how trivial it is. grin grin)

Until the decision to keep or reject the surname you were born with, can be made without all these reasons and excuses and considerations to be made, in the society that we live in at the moment (as I did myself) - all of which feed into the far bigger picture of women as second-class citizens... how can it be described as a trivial thing...?

I reiterate, I'm not entirely happy with my decision. I'm annoyed that it was one I even had to make, I think. That is the part that really pisses me off...

Blistory Thu 22-Nov-12 18:55:57

Whilst I understand about picking battles, I do think that women should be taking every opportunity to chip away at inequality when they can. I know it's not easy and that you get labelled as a mad, rad, lesbian feminist but if the alternative is that we leave this fight to our daughters, well, that saddens me because it means that all the other sexism remains unchallenged and more women suffer needlessly.

And yes, I do think we have a personal responsibility and a moral one even when it feels like you're on a one woman crusade to change the world. Not saying that I get it right every time but how can you define yourself as a feminist if you don't actively do something about inequality.

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 18:56:53

Eh? I didn't say you were forced or owt? Whatchoo on about?

Blistory Thu 22-Nov-12 18:57:21

Whistle I would have kept my name. It's mine. Simplistic but true.

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 18:57:37

AND if it's such a trivial little thing, why not keep your own name?

whistlestopcafe Thu 22-Nov-12 18:59:55

But I hated it. I never wanted that name. It belonged to a man who was part of a different family. Growing up I always felt like a fraud, I couldn't wait to get rid.

And it was Bones!

HoneyDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 18:59:59

Dh entertained taking my name as it is very unusual, but I readily embraced the oppurtunity for something more run of the mill grin if dh goes his name will stay!

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 19:00:07

Blistory - because you can say that feminism is all about choice.

And so that absolves you from having to do anything to change the world, because it's feminist not to, because it's my choice.


SomersetONeil Thu 22-Nov-12 19:02:48

Hully - I'm saying it not a trivial thing...! Not a trivial thing at all. You've misunderstood me totally!

The point I was trying to make was simply that there was no point wading in and telling everyone to step into the 21st Century, because nobody had asked me to change my name, nobody was actually being a dinosaur about it. It was more than that. It's difficult to explain - it was my compromise; one I'm not entirely happy I made, but there you go.

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 19:03:19

I once knew someone who changed her name by deed-poll to Smith as soon as she could, because she hated her father.

I loved that she chose Smith.


Blistory Thu 22-Nov-12 19:04:35

Don't get me started on bloody choice.

When my choices are made on a level playing field, I might accept choice as a valid reason but until then, I'm not playing with anyone who bleats on about choice.


SomersetONeil Thu 22-Nov-12 19:04:47

but how can you define yourself as a feminist if you don't actively do something about inequality.

So what then...?

Am I supposed to now don a pinny and argue the case for lap-dancing clubs and free porn for all? wink

I get what you're saying, I honestly do, and I agree with you. But a). I don't think it's possible to be a 'perfect feminist', and b). if the alternative to being a perfect feminist is handing back your badge, going against all the things you believe in, and switching your principles and not being a feminist at all - well - that's bonkers. And not possible.

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 19:05:43

The trivial thing was to all those who have said it's a trivial issue, somerset.

Incidentally, DH has a nicer surname than mine, but Bad is my name (as it were) and that's that!

Blistory Thu 22-Nov-12 19:12:40

No Somerset, I've already said I don't get it right myself but so many women don't even try because they're ridiculed or harrassed. Or are worried that they might be.

It's the decisions I've made in the past that shock me now that are the reasons I try to be a bit more active. What's the old saying about if you're not part of the solution then you're part of the problem.

Woozley Thu 22-Nov-12 19:12:56

I'm not being judgemental or 'cross' about others' choices, Hully, I'm angry about people on here dictating to me and others, saying what we are and aren't and not crediting us with a good deal of intelligence. In fact, behaving rather like male chauvanist pigs.

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 19:14:42

QED woozley

scottishmummy Thu 22-Nov-12 19:16:28

its no more hard for a woman to change her name than a man
that's quite a lame excuse

Blistory Thu 22-Nov-12 19:16:43

I don't know the first thing about the intelligence of any posters. I can only go on the message posted.

Sorry if expressing my thoughts is seen as dictating or acting like an MCP.

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 19:20:55

Woozley tbh you do sound a bit cross.

Who is dictating to you? What about?

I don't have a problem with women making choices because otherwise they'll be ridiculed or harassed, Blistory. Who wants to be ridiculed or harassed? I don't blame anyone trying to avoid that.

I have a problem with the assertion that avoiding ridicule and harassment is a feminist choice because they're a feminist and therefore everything they do is feminist.

I just find that a bit mad. I know loads of really hard-line feminists and none of them claim that everything they do is feminist. And I know several christians who acknowledge that not everything they do is a christian choice. And socialists who make un-socialist choices.

I just don't understand why some women feel they have to proclaim all their choices are feminist because that's what feminism is about. It's bizarre.

Woozley Thu 22-Nov-12 19:25:42

Woozley tbh you do sound a bit cross.

Angry I said, yes I am. Angry at people who put others off feminism. I'm not angry in general, just at some peoples' attitudes on this thread.

I just don't understand why some women feel they have to proclaim all their choices are feminist because that's what feminism is about. It's bizarre.

Exactly, that's what I'm saying.

Others on this thread are saying you can't be a feminist at all if you changed your name. Which is clearly a bit mad, as you say, Fastidia.

Blistory Thu 22-Nov-12 19:28:22

I don't blame anyone but there comes a point when it must be worth it and if there isn't, how is that being a feminist.

If you never speak up against it, then what's the point ? By all means, pick the easier battle but please don't attack women who do take a stance and who take the shit, as being dictating and MCPs.

SomersetONeil Thu 22-Nov-12 19:29:09

Yes, I am part of the problem. I don't deny it.

"Others on this thread are saying you can't be a feminist at all if you changed your name."

I don't think anyone has said this - just that changing your name is not a feminist choice. That doesn't mean that someone who makes a non-feminist choice on one thing, or indeed on a few things, isn't overall a feminist.

Blistory Thu 22-Nov-12 19:32:12

Somerset kudos to you for admitting that - I still struggle when I realise some of the decisions I've made have contributed to inequality. And still read some of the threads on this board and think 'duh, how could I not have thought of that as being an issue'

Frans1980 Thu 22-Nov-12 19:32:30

IMO people who say "you can't be a feminist if you do this or this or this" will just put people off calling themselves a feminist.

If feminism comes with a lot of rules and things you must and must not do that must be obeyed like a religion then it's not surprising if people don't bother with it.

I'm not angry. I understand the argument for keeping your own name. I'm ok with the choice I made, though, even while accepting it may be unfeminist. I wasn't thinking about other women when I made it, I was thinking about me.

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 19:36:51

I'm obviously not concentrating because I haven't seen anyone on this thread say to everyone else that they cannot be a feminist because they've changed their name.

Also that thing about putting people off feminism - if you're committed to women's rights, you won't be put off feminism by something one feminist somewhere tells you.

Either you believe in women's humanity or you don't.

Yes I agree Blistory, I think people pick their battles. I don't condemn anyone for not picking the same battles as I pick. And I also certainly wouldn't condemn anyone who picks battles I wouldn't: I think it's crucial that some battles are fought, even if I'm too weak/ lazy/ uninformed to fight them myself.

scottishmummy Thu 22-Nov-12 19:39:11

changing your name gives clear indication you value his name more than yours
if it were solely to all be same name family you could all be double barelled
if you change to his name youre clearly prioritising his name above yours

AnyFucker Thu 22-Nov-12 19:42:53

Yep, sm, I didn't like my own name

so I prioritised another one and it just happened to be his grin

Yep, scottishmummy. I absolutely did.

Fastidia, I think that's very true. It's the reason I like these boards, actually.

Blistory Thu 22-Nov-12 19:43:13

Either you believe in women's humanity or you don't.


seeker Thu 22-Nov-12 19:43:16

I have been a feminist- -and alive!- for longer than most on here, and I don't thinking have ever heard anyone say to anyone "you can't be a feminist if you do X"

What I have heard is women, when challenged on their choices, getting all huffy about it and flouncing off saying "well, I won't call myself a feminist, than you'll be sorry!"

<high fives AF for coincidental x post>

scottishmummy Thu 22-Nov-12 19:48:45

ive never strongly needed being recognised as being identifiably dp partner
im his partner i dont need to be identifed by same name as him.why would i
our kids are double barrelled

HullyEastergully Thu 22-Nov-12 19:54:52

woozley - you can do what ever you want, no one cares.

But you can't ALSO expect people to agree with your choice, or say it is a valid FEMINIST choice.

Blistory Thu 22-Nov-12 19:56:38

SM, a lot of women do appear to need their marital status as a badge to ward off...I dunno, single women, predatory men, dancing chimpanzees, whatever..

I've never felt the need to publicly proclaim my status to anyone but comments from recently married friends have been :-

'I feel safer now that I'm married' WTF ?
'Ms XXX but I'm actually married, I've just kept my maiden name for professional purposes' - fine but the context was in making a complaint to a customer services manager who needed a surname. She had no fecking interest in your marital status and didn't give a toss about your surname or the fact you used Ms.

scottishmummy Thu 22-Nov-12 20:00:21

once had to call someone,name written as Mary Doe. so i asked for ms doe
she had total berky,im married as if shed been insulted

Brasssection Thu 22-Nov-12 20:17:25

See, this is where it gets tricky for me. Feminism can't be a free for all. I remember a woman arguing that she was anti-choice and a feminist because she cared about the rights of the 'girl babies'. Sorry, she wasn't a feminist in my book. Was I wrong to say that? Did she them complain about women like me who want to keep people who disagree with out of the feminist club?

We all have our own ideas about what it is to be a feminist. For me, keeping my name was vital. For others I see it isn't. I must admit that I find that strange, but I also know radical feminists who think I've betrayed the sisterhood for marrying in the first place. I take their point, but I would never run away bleating about the big girls throwing me out of their club. There are varieties of belief and commitment within every great political movement. Running away and saying 'not fair' every time someone questions one's assumptions is pretty feeble and weakens the collective and the movement.

TheOriginalLadyFT Thu 22-Nov-12 20:24:36

I kept my name because for me changing to my husband's name implied I was being transferred from my father's property to my husband's, which is total bollocks, plus my DS had my surname as his useless father left when I was pregnant. It was a conscious statement of my individuality and when challenged about it I used the above explanation.

Several times my DH has been referred to as Mrs Original and he thinks it is hilarious, but when I ask him to think about why it is so funny, he gets a bit huffy. I've told him clearly, I love him but I don't like what changing my name would have implied

SomersetONeil Thu 22-Nov-12 20:44:39

So Brasssection - what you're saying is that you deem people unworthy of being in the club, but you yourself refuse to be thrown out of the club by others.

I'm with you with regards to the latter. I changed my surname, but I refuse to be thrown out of the club. Feminists have me whether they want me or not.

But there is a contradiction there, surely. You can't tell someone they're not feminist, as frustrating as their stance might be to you. Because you wouldn't tolerate it from someone else with regards to issue X where you allegedly 'fail'.

All you can do is continue to argue the toss, debate, question, etc. I know I failed as a feminist when it comes to taking DH's name. I really do. But I'm also part of the solution when it comes to (many) other matters.

No-one's perfect. We all just do our best.

edam Thu 22-Nov-12 20:50:08

I kept my own surname but each to their own. Women who wear marriage as a badge of pride are weird though - the sort Blistory is talking about. Getting married is nice for the couple involved but it's not like climbing Everest or graduating with a first or anything.

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 20:54:49

I think there are some things where it would be preposterous to demand to be in the club though.

What other political movement has to put up with people who clearly have no commitment to the basic tenets of the movement calling themselves part of the movement?

Actually, scrap that, communism does. Pol Pot, capitalist China, Stalin etc.


<argument falls down>

OK here's another one. Feminism's basic principle is that women are human beings just like men, not chattels and not inferior and not an afterthought.

If you don't believe in women's humanity, then you're not a feminist.

I agree with Brassection, if you believe in forcing women to carry pregnancies they don't want and undertake the health risks and life risk of labour when they don't want to, you don't really believe women are as human as men, because there isn't a situation anywhere where you would insist men have to put their welfare on the line for the sake of someone else.

Trotskyists accuse Stalinists of betraying the revolution. Stalinists say Maoists are idiots and not real communists.

AFAIK, none of them say: "well that's it then, I'm not going to be a communist anymore, it's communists like you who put other people off being communist and guess what, my commitment to the movement is so weak and tenuous, that I too have been put off - I'm off to join the Tory party".

Only feminists are accused of putting people off an entire political and human rights movement.

Interesting ain't it?

Brasssection Thu 22-Nov-12 21:00:15

No that's not what I meant, but I can see why it looks that way. Im afraid I've had a few wine.

I meant that it's incredibly complicated but that we all have our limits. If someone asks, as the OP did, I'll say what I think, just as I expect others would if I asked about feminism and marriage or make up or whatever. On the other hand, I would (and have) protested outside a lap dancing club, but I wouldn't target the women who worked there. I guess we have our own hierarchies and we tend to gravitate to people who share our views. That doesn't mean we dont feel an affinity with larger movements, but that we have a position within the broader collective. A bit like a political party I guess.

Brasssection Thu 22-Nov-12 21:01:54

Oh yes, fas it's funny that, isn't it?

SomersetONeil Thu 22-Nov-12 21:42:22

Fastidia - I really, generally do agree with you - it's very unusual for me to be on the 'other' side of any feminist debate. grin And in actual fact, I'm not really - since I admit that changing your name is not the right thing to do, even though I did it. I admit I'm in the wrong on this.

But I would argue that, for example, socialists and communists are often accused of putting people off their movement...! I mean you only have to look at the Republicans in the US as an example of this. They are thoroughly put off socialism by Obama (who's about as much of a socialist as David Cameron is, really). Anyone who doesn't agree with a particular ideology will be put off it by its proponents. I don't think feminism in unique in this regard.

But that's the crux of it. They don't agree with it, and never did in the first place. They don't need any putting off, it's just an excuse.

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 22-Nov-12 22:04:30

Oh I think we're on the same side re that one...


"Put off", forsooth.

whistlestopcafe Thu 22-Nov-12 22:09:22

I did prioritise dh's family name over mine for the reasons already given. However I chose to use the title Ms rather than Mrs as I didn't see why my marital status was relevant.

The problem with subjects like changing your name when you get married is that although, in theory, it is damaging to equality, it's rarely quite as black and white as that.

Maybe it would be better if we all provided a united front, it would be a huge symbolic gesture. And in terms of equality it would be the "right" thing to do. But in personal terms in might not be the "right" thing at all.

Should the individual give up on what is right for them in order to satisfy the needs of the majority?

Hit post too soon.

Does having different "needs" to the majority, or even the ideal, in a smaller issue like this really make you anti feminist? Does it negate any agreement you may have with the bigger issues?

(By bigger issues I mean women being given equal opportunities/rights as men)

exoticfruits Fri 23-Nov-12 08:00:38

No the individual shouldn't give up what is right for them. It is all about choice. My SIL kept her ex DHs name and didn't take my brother's name. I presume she just liked it. It is no big deal. I changed mine, there is no necessity for me to justify it. It is my choice, not up for judgement and trivial.

"Getting married is nice for the couple involved but it's not like climbing Everest or graduating with a first or anything."

Are you sure about that now? Plenty of women say they're "proud" to be married, and to be known as Mrs. confused

garlicbaguette Fri 23-Nov-12 10:12:59

The fact that a couple of posters have said it's harder for a man to change his name is proof of outdated patriarchal assumptions.

In England, a woman can 'prove' to her bank and other organisations that she's changed her surname by showing them her marriage certificate or decree absolute. It's not the same for men. This must be the reason people assume it's easier for the woman to change her name.

In reality, anyone can change their surname just by doing it. It's legal to go under several different surnames as long as you're honest and consistent in their usage. Banks might say you need a deed poll, but that isn't true either: they can demand one, but there's no legal requirement.

If Mr Jones and Ms Smith decide to change their name to Mr & Mrs Very-Posh upon marriage, all they have to do is give the registrar a statement. They can carry on using their old names for work, if they want, and can name their children Smith-Jones if they like. It's not the big deal that most people (patriarchally) think it is.

summerflower Fri 23-Nov-12 11:00:00

"Getting married is nice for the couple involved but it's not like climbing Everest or graduating with a first or anything."

Getting married is the easy bit, staying married happily, equally and lovingly, is the hard bit. In my humble opinion, getting a first is easier, if you are intellectually inclined, than negotiating the thorny path between retaining an independent sense of self and forming a working and lasting partnership with someone who society accords more value/privilege than you.

Bue Fri 23-Nov-12 11:26:15
summerflower Fri 23-Nov-12 12:12:36

Bue, the comments on that article - I got as far as the second one:

>>If it's too much trouble for a person to align the names of their children with their own last names, and there are many possible ways of doing it, you've got to wonder what other aspects of their parental responsibilities are too bothersome for them, too.<<

Aaaahhh, this is why I don't read the Guardian comments usually - my DD's name is aligned with her absent father, the one who left when she was a baby and doesn't pay maintenance, but it's my parental responsibilities which are bothersome to me? FFS.

Trills Fri 23-Nov-12 12:27:13

Never read the comments.

HullyEastergully Fri 23-Nov-12 16:20:48

I have a different surname to my dc and in 15 years of travelling all over the world with them have never ever ever ever ever had a question, let alone a problem.

exoticfruits Fri 23-Nov-12 16:37:07

I have a different name from my DS and have never had a single question-as I keep saying it is unimportant.
I find it odd that if it is pointed out that people have their father's name they say 'it doesn't matter it is my name'. I have DH's name-I have now had it longer than I had my father's name-it is my name and I fail to see the difference!
It is personal choice-up to the individual and nothing to do with anyone else.
I know I am equal-I don't need a name to prove it-I refuse to get bogged down in trivialities.

FastidiaBlueberry Fri 23-Nov-12 17:32:34

Exoticfruits I find it very telling that you keep popping up to tell people how unimportant this subject is.

And quite amusing.


HullyEastergully Fri 23-Nov-12 17:34:24

That is your OPINION exoticfruits

It has little to do with the FACT of what changing one's name denotes historically and why it still carries those associations.

FastidiaBlueberry Fri 23-Nov-12 17:37:16

It sounds a bit desperate to keep saying it's unimportant, when women know that not doing it always causes comment and in some cases, actually causes resentment.

How does that happen, when it's oh so trivial? Why do people's MIL's and relatives make such a fuss about it, don't they know it's unimportant?

exoticfruits Fri 23-Nov-12 18:04:50

I can't say why they make a fuss- as I said SIL hasn't taken my brother's name- it hasn't bothered anyone. I am happy to amuse people- it is better than irritating. I can't really see why anyone is in the least interested in what I say. Everyone is free to do their own thing.

FastidiaBlueberry Fri 23-Nov-12 18:16:05

Yes everyone is free to do their own thing, but not without comment from everyone else.

If you don't change your name on marriage when you're a woman, it's amazing who feels they have the right to comment -sometimes adversely - on it.

While that's still the case, it clearly still matters.

exoticfruits Fri 23-Nov-12 19:04:38

This is my only comment-that it is personal. I don't ask why or comment, it isn't my business- I just call people what they wish to be called.I have never asked my SIL why she kept her ex DHs name, it would be very rude-I suspect it is merely because it is an attractive name, rather poetic; but it may be another reason entirely. She is free to do whatever she likes-as are we all.
It seems to me that I am supposed to be pressurised by the women, who happen to be the noisiest about it, to fit in with what they think. We keep having the bizarre idea that feminism can't be about choice-we have to do as we are told by other feminists.( Or we are patronisingly told that we changed it because we didn't know any better!)

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 23-Nov-12 19:31:56

Exotic I don't think anyone has said you have to do as you are told by other feminists.

HullyEastergully Fri 23-Nov-12 19:42:00

The personal is political

exoticfruits Fri 23-Nov-12 19:48:10

Good, theDoctrineofsnatch- we can just accept that you can be a feminist and change your name then.My personal is just that- nothing more and nothing less.

HullyEastergully Fri 23-Nov-12 19:51:18

I think you can change your name and hold other feminist views, but I don't think you can call yourself a feminist if you change your name thereby subscribing to a patriarchal practice that helps to uphold the status of women as second class.

It simply isn't logical.

scottishmummy Fri 23-Nov-12 19:56:42

personal is political got to be most vapid statement ever
essentially where does it go?that one has to modify actions to fulfill political ideology
I personally think housewife is a deeply patriarchal role and enacts wee wifie status.don't expect anyone to change their actions because of this opinion.

it would be be more accurate to say ideology is political

HullyEastergully Fri 23-Nov-12 19:58:40

the personal is political is a succinct summing up of the fact that no woman is an island.

scottishmummy Fri 23-Nov-12 20:07:28

are you reading the almanac of cliche tonight hilly

FastidiaBlueberry Fri 23-Nov-12 20:15:04

Feminists don't tell other women what to do.

Patriarchy does.

Feminists critique what women do and why they do it in a patriarchy and lots of women perceive that as being told what to do by feminists while never noticing how much they're being pressurised into doing things by patriarchal expectations.

It's so vapid.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 23-Nov-12 20:16:32

Really, Hully? I'm pretty sure most of us make the "non-feminist" choice from time to time, doesn't mean we aren't feminists.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 23-Nov-12 20:23:52

Giving DC their father's surname similarly patriarchal?

"Giving DC their father's surname similarly patriarchal? "

Yes, absolutely.

ForkInTheForeheid Fri 23-Nov-12 20:44:47

"I think you can change your name and hold other feminist views, but I don't think you can call yourself a feminist if you change your name thereby subscribing to a patriarchal practice that helps to uphold the status of women as second class."

I appreciate where you're coming from here Hully, but that is one of very few remarks I have read on MN that has actually personally offended me (I think because it strikes me that you are being entirely sincere).

How dare you say I'm not a feminist? What kind of way is that to encourage women to have their eyes opened to how important feminism and its ideas are? I mean really? Apart from the fact that women can make an informed and reasoned choice about name-changing with an understanding of the cultural connotations, you may be addressing women who got married 20 years ago but maybe didn't discover/think about feminism until more recently, are they excluded from the club?

As I said earlier, I've only partially changed my name (I'm Mrs. X to my ds's school, my family and not much else) and kept my unmarried name for professional reasons. I see no reason why these choices should reflect upon my status as a feminist.

It really would be a feminist statement to rename yourself in an entirely new way to escape the culture of names being passed down by males, but to just keep your existing name which is so ingrained in that culture anyway? To me it's not really much of a statement.

exoticfruits Fri 23-Nov-12 20:53:02

I can't see that you are any better off- it appears that someone is still having expectations of what you should do. Why is it different if you are pressurised by a woman than a man? Why can't you just choose? I am for equality and either everyone, male or female should keep the name they were born with or half of the men in the world should change on marriage and half of the women should change.

Indeed, TheDoctrine <gives Hully a very Hard Stare>

"I think you can change your name and hold other feminist views, but I don't think you can call yourself a feminist if you change your name "

So you need to do all totally feminist activities in order to be a feminist?

Wonder where all the people went who claimed that no one ever told someone they couldn't call themselves a feminist..

scottishmummy Fri 23-Nov-12 21:36:08

I'm liberal on it,live the principles you adhere to and no I won't be dictated to what is or isn't feminist
life is murky,it's about positive risks,and we all compromise to greater or lesser extent

HullyEastergully Fri 23-Nov-12 21:47:39

It's my view. You don't have to agree. Why get offended? If you disagree, you disagree.

scottishmummy Fri 23-Nov-12 21:49:13

yes but disagreeing doesn't make one more or less feminist

FastidiaBlueberry Fri 23-Nov-12 21:54:22

I don't recognise this nonsense of being pressurised by women Exoticfruits.

Except MILs who want you to have their little boy's name.

There isn't this whole big edifice of feminism which is subtly pressuring you into not changing your name.

Changing your name is the default.

I disagree that you can't do something not feminist and not be a feminist. My objection isn't to people doing stuff not feminist (I do loads that isn't) it's when they tell me that everything they do is feminist because they're feminist.

That's silly.

exoticfruits Fri 23-Nov-12 21:58:20

In that case we can just agree- I changed my name because I wanted to and I am free to do so. (MIL dead before I met DH)

exoticfruits Fri 23-Nov-12 21:59:44

If I get to be a MIL (I have 3DSs) then future DILs can have a free choice- it will be nothing to do with me.

ForkInTheForeheid Fri 23-Nov-12 22:34:01

"It's my view. You don't have to agree. Why get offended? If you disagree, you disagree. "

I'm offended because it's a judgement you have made on a lot of women (including me) which is deeply unhelpful to feminism IMO. Perhaps offended is the wrong word but I had a strong reaction to reading what you wrote.

I guess it's the prescriptive nature of your opinion. "You can't call yourself a feminist." I think there are probably activities that I could partake in as a woman that might preclude me from being as being accepted as a feminist but I can't for the life of me see that the name thing is one of them.

I don't go in for choice feminism (I made a choice, I'm a woman, therefore it is a feminist choice) but I do think that prescribing a narrow set of behaviours in order to be a feminist is counter-productive to say the least.

I believe in equality of opportunity and equality of outcome and there are many cultural and political changes that need to take place to achieve that, and I'm not denying that taking your husband's name is part of a patriarchal system. I guess I just don't think the name change in and of itself is necessarily an anti-feminist act (if entered into informed).

Perhaps the way to go with the name issue is to no longer name our children after ourselves? After all a name is bestowed upon all of us with no choice, perhaps at least if we had a unique identifier and it was no longer expected that a family all shared a name - I mean why is it really necessary? - freedom of choice would be more open and women wouldn't feel the desire to change their name so that their husband, children and themselves all share it.

I'm not being facetious, this thread made me think about the whole concept and it's a bit weird once you start ruminating. Why is something as important as your name decided at birth by your parents and why do people (generally) accept their names even if they don't like them that much? Maybe we should be named for convenience by our parents and then at a certain age have an opportunity to amend our birth certificates to reflect the name we have chosen for ourselves.

Jeez, I've not even started on the wine yet... Perhaps I should :D

HullyEastergully Fri 23-Nov-12 22:38:20

I agree fork.

And I'm not interested in prescribing behaviousrs per se, it just seems to me that feminism is about the liberation and empowerment of women, and that not changing your name is a really really easy way to not subscribe to the patriarchal way, so er...

ForkInTheForeheid Fri 23-Nov-12 22:45:28

I really do see where you're coming from (and I wonder what my actions would have been had I liked my birth name more) but I can't see that that act of not taking your husband's name is radical enough to make an impact.
Just playing devil's advocate I think it would be easier to argue that marriage itself is an anti-feminist act rather than the name-changing that goes along with it.

AmandaCooper Fri 23-Nov-12 22:52:07

Hang on a minute - not changing your name is really really easy?

edam Fri 23-Nov-12 23:26:40

I know it's harking back a bit, but have just seem summer's comment about staying married being an achievement. People tend to change their name ON marriage, not as some sort of long-service award for surviving ten years without walking out. And it's not a personal failing if your marriage ends, necessarily - if your husband (or wife) has an affair, or turns violent, are you somehow less worthy than you were when you thought everything was fine?

(FWIW I have been married for considerably more than a decade although I sometimes do dream of MN-stylie leaving the bastard when he dumps his pants on TOP of the linen bin, yet again, instead of lifting the sodding lid and putting them inside.)

BelaLugosisShed Sat 24-Nov-12 12:13:12

I'm really very offended to be told I'm not a proper feminist because I have my husband's surname and identify as a Mrs and very surprised that it's Hully telling me so.

Is the simple fact that keeping your own surname is actually keeping your father's ( or certainly a man's name somewhere along the line) ) name escaping people? confused So it's ok to have a name that belongs to your father because......?

Double-barrelled is all very well until your child marries, then what happens, ridiculous triple/quadruple surnames?

HullyEastergully Sat 24-Nov-12 12:27:18

Look, two things...

1. Obviously I really don't want to upset or offend anyone because a) it's counter productive and b) why on earth would I?

But I don't understand this taking offence at someone with a different point of view. I'm not offended by those taking the man's name just because it isn't a good idea in my view (because of the historical associations etc).

2. As I said before, to me, it is a question of logicality.

To be a feminist means working towards the emancipation, liberation and empowerment of women. Buying into a patriarchal tradition that was about male ownership is not consistent with that aim. Ergo, it is not the action of a feminist.

To explain further, I have been forbidden by some friends to call myself a socialist, because although my natural feelings, politics and inclinations lie that way, some of my lifestyle and actions are inconsistent with that label. I had to think long and hard about it and ultimately agree. Now I just call myself a hypocritical-socialist-with-good-intentions-yet-who-does-the-necessary-in-a-capitalist-system.

And no I am not suggesting anyone call themselves a hypocritical-feminist...

Of course it is easy to not change your name, all you have to do is nothing.

HullyEastergully Sat 24-Nov-12 12:36:18

And furthermore(!) taking offence is just dull, much more interesting to have a good old talk about it all.

Trills Sat 24-Nov-12 12:39:18

I think that feminism is a set of beliefs.

So someone can be a feminist in their beliefs even though some of their actions may be actions that do not further the cause of feminism.

I'm expect that some of the things I do are not positively feminist actions, either because:
I don't realise that the thing I am doing is unfeminist.
I do realise it but am too lazy/selfish/conditioned by the patriarchy to make the effort to do make the more feminist choice.

Trills Sat 24-Nov-12 12:40:17

I think it's wrong to tell someone "you are not a feminist" but it's okay to point out to me that something I am doing is not furthering the rights of women.

namechangeguy Sat 24-Nov-12 12:40:18

Fastidia said 'If you don't change your name on marriage when you're a woman, it's amazing who feels they have the right to comment -sometimes adversely - on it.'

Given some of the comments on here, it seems to work both ways.....

HullyEastergully Sat 24-Nov-12 12:42:07

It's like the MN personal attack policy

It's ok to say: that is not the action of a feminist

But not to say: you are not a feminist...


Trills Sat 24-Nov-12 12:43:00

Oh, and y'all talked about Caitlin Moran.

What she said was that the way to determine if something is a feminist issue is by thinking are the boys worrying about this shit?.

If there is an issue that causes conflict and stress and worry to women, and men and boys just don't ever have to think abut it, then that issue is a feminist issue.

Because either:
a - it doesn't need worrying about at all, but women are somehow being made to worry about it
b - it is something that everyone needs to be concerned about, but somehow it has been made out to be something that women need to deal with

Excluding perhaps issues to do with mooncups.

BelaLugosisShed Sat 24-Nov-12 12:49:53

For the vast majority of women ( in the UK at any rate) , deliberately not changing their name on marriage is utterly pointless and equally hypocritical because they are keeping their father's name.

I would find it quite horrific to have a different name from my DH or children tbh but don't give the tiniest toss what other people do and certainly could care less if they're making a feminist statement by doing so.

HullyEastergully Sat 24-Nov-12 12:52:03

They are keeping their OWN name (which for the first generation would be true) but subsequent to them, they would be handing down maternal names.

chibi Sat 24-Nov-12 12:56:30

how come my surname is really my father's but dh's surname is his own?

what is the logic that explains this?

Blistory Sat 24-Nov-12 12:57:16

Keeping my fathers name (if that's how you want to view it ) is no worse than taking my (imaginary) husbands fathers name.

As for considering it horrific to have a different surname from your DH and DC, well, I guess that's where we differ.

HullyEastergully Sat 24-Nov-12 13:00:40

<snorts at "horrific"?

TigerFeet Sat 24-Nov-12 13:01:06

Personally I can't get annoyed about women changing their name on marriage, it's one of those sorts of issues which I think ought to annoy me, but doesn't.

I know men who have changed their names to match their wife's name.
I know partners with children whose children have the woman's surname.
I also know a "Jane" Smith who married a "John" Smith grin

If my professional life meant my name being traceable (eg published academic) I probably wouldn't have changed it.

As it was I didn't want to keep my father's name, and dh's name was as good as any. Our family name is fairly mainstream and likeable.

I'm now condidering changing our family name to something entirely different just to confuse uber traditional in laws but frankly can't be arsed with the hassle of it.

seeker Sat 24-Nov-12 13:08:23

Well why is my name not mine but my father's, but my dp's is his, not just his father''s?

And it may be my father's name- but it is also mine. The name tht I have had since birth. The name that identifies me as me. Just as much and in exactly the same way as a man's name. There is no reason for a woman's last name to be disposable and a man's permanent..

garlicbaguette Sat 24-Nov-12 13:12:00

Well, Seeker, there's a very good reason if you view women mainly as childbearing vessels for the genes of men. Which is why going along with it is un-feminist.

edam Sat 24-Nov-12 13:14:34

Because men don't change their name. A man's name is regarded as his - it's his name from birth. A woman is expected to change her birth name on marriage.

You have to start from somewhere and we are where we are - with the names we have been given by our parents. Feel free to change your name to your husband's, feel free to choose an entirely new name, feel free to keep your own. But don't pretend that there is no difference between taking your husband's and keeping your own.

Btw, there are some surnames that do come from women - often when there was an inheritance involved, but also a few occupational names such as Brewster (apparently brewing ale was a woman's job in the middle ages).

Oddly enough I discovered recently an example of the woman's surname surviving in dh's family. We'd always giggled about his Grandad's middle name (a surname, think Pratt or Bottomley). He is SO grateful his Dad dropped it, after generations of Christian name, middle embarrassing surname, and then actual surname. Only dh recently found, at his Mother's house, a sampler dating from 1798 embroidered by a girl with this surname. She's clearly how it came into the family and we assume she must have had a few bob for it to be visited on her poor children. If ever there was a case for ditching your surname on marriage, that was it!

exoticfruits Sat 24-Nov-12 13:22:37

I have had DHs name far longer than my father's name-it is now mine. Why can it be my name if it started with my father and not mine if it started with my DH? It doesn't make any sort of sense-they are both from the male line.
For what it is worth I wouldn't want my mother's name-it must be in the top 6 in the UK and it totally boring-my father's is at least unusual.
It is very silly to say that a name that you have for 20 years is more your name than one you might have for 80 years!

I still don't see why it is anyone else's business. I couldn't care less which name people adopt, but I am totally free to adopt a name without people making judgements and telling me what I should do! I also resent being told that feminism is not to do with choice and that I should be doing what the bossiest women tell me to do. At least no one ever told me that I had to change my name or ought to change my name-I just chose to do it.

To me feminism is choice. I am a feminist-I am equal-I prove it ever day and the name I chose to use is irrelevant.

exoticfruits Sat 24-Nov-12 13:26:40