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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?

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

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 10:42:49

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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 10:43:57

'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

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 10:47:17

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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 10:48:45

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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 10:51:11

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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 10:51:38

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

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 11:01:15

I like my DH. Most of the time.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 11:02:27

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.

NotGoodNotBad Thu 22-Nov-12 11:05:17

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

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 22-Nov-12 11:25:40

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.

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