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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?

NotGoodNotBad Thu 22-Nov-12 09:09:46

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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 09:09:53

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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 09:17:10

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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 09:19:59

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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 09:20:25

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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 09:31:49

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

NotGoodNotBad Thu 22-Nov-12 09:38:54

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

How come men never say this?

NotGoodNotBad Thu 22-Nov-12 09:39:13

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

NotGoodNotBad Thu 22-Nov-12 09:41:17

"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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 09:52:36

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.

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