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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

TravelinColour Wed 21-Nov-12 22:16:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

TravelinColour Wed 21-Nov-12 22:50:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

NotGoodNotBad Wed 21-Nov-12 23:20:18

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.

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