Why I Didn’t Keep My Maiden Name

Marriage.JPGForget the foreplay; I’m going to go straight in for the kill:

Contrary to almost everything else I’ve read everywhere on the whole internet, I genuinely believe that you can take your partners’ name when you marry AND still be a feminist.

I know, I know, I am WILD.

Call me a little naïve (in addition to the wild) but the patriarchy and its unstoppable quest to control all women didn’t factor into my decision to take my husbands’ name. At all.  I’m not blinkered enough to genuinely believe that Western society has moved on enough that that isn’t an issue – let alone the rest of the world – or that a decision to keep my maiden name wouldn’t have been met with ‘The Weirdness’.

But that particular reasoning just didn’t come into it for me.

If I had been very attached to my maiden name, I wouldn’t have thought twice about keeping it: my name, my life, my choice. But as it turned out, I wasn’t remotely committed to it. Them in fact, I had a complicated beginning.

I didn’t and still don’t believe that a name is representative of my identity, I am what I am (what I aaaaaammmmm)  whether my name is what it is or I choose to be known as Princess Consuela Bananahammock. I certainly don’t think, as I saw a columnist suggest last year, that it’s ‘the most basic marker of my identity.’ I also don’t believe that your name is representative of your identity either but you might and it’s fine and dandy if you do, we’re all adults here.

I chose to share my husbands’ name because I wanted to be part of a team. Insert puking emoji here. But it’s true. It’s not about ownership, it’s about partnership. It’s not about dominance but about equality and shared experience, which I think makes us a stronger, more bad ass couple.

That’s not to say that we wouldn’t be as good a team (in just a minute I’m going to stop channeling Oprah and referring to my marriage as a ‘team’. I can’t promise I won’t do it once more before I’m done though, I’ve seen the future) if we had different surnames, it was just a very personal choice for me rooted in all of my life experience and what I wanted from my marriage and our married life.  The ability to choose either way is, in my humble opinion, what feminism is.

For me, always, every single time you ask me, feminism is about equality, choice and freedom. About women being able to do as they please without murdering, maiming or being a bit of an arse. And without calling other women ‘bitches’, that pisses me off the most.

The fact that I chose to take my husband’s name, to be part of Team Our Marriage (oh Christ), doesn’t change what I believe or the fact that I will fight tooth and nail for me/you/us to have the same rights as any man, to be paid the same for the same work, to not be persecuted, belittled or physically violated for not having a y chromosome.

Somewhere this week, more than likely in that black hole of you-may-also-like on Facebook (I lose hours in that place) I read that Zoe Saldana’s husband changed his name when they married. A successful artist whose livelihood probably relies on the name he’s built, changed his name to that of his (probably more) successful wife. Anybody telling him he can’t? Nope.

So, should a feminist take her husband’s name? You know what – she can do whatever the hell she wants. As long as she owns that decision, the world will adjust.

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