According to Western tradition, a bride takes the groom’s name after a wedding as the two become one family.
However, in the 1970s, the feminist movement challenged this tradition, wondering why the woman must lose her identity in marriage and why the kids (typically birthed and cared for by the woman) get his name rather than hers.
Tradition Based on Misogyny
The tradition has clear roots in misogyny. The property transfer, symbolized when the father “gives the bride away” at the alter, has a woman changing owners. She once was her father’s (graced with his name) but became her husband’s property.
The deal is complete when she gets her new name, losing her old identity to become simply so-and-so’s wife.
But Remains Strong
Though most people would scoff at the notion that a wife belongs to her husband, the traditions symbolizing the property transfer remain.
About 80% of women still take their husband’s names, according to the most recent data from the Pew Research Center. 14% keep their maiden names, while 5% hyphenate.
Most men refuse any compromise, with 92% keeping their name and less than 1% hyphenating. 5% buck tradition and take their partner’s names.
Modern Couple’s Decisions
Modern couples now face an interesting decision. Should they continue the sexist tradition of taking the man’s name or do something else?
Unfortunately, as one woman’s story shows, it’s far more complicated than it would appear, as many men refuse to change while also insisting they need one family name.
He Wants Her To Change
The Original Poster (OP) said her fiance wants her to change her last name, but she wants to keep it.
She’s offered a compromise where they both change their names to some hyphenated version to have a shared name, but he refuses.
His Reasons for Refusal Speak Volumes
He won’t change his name because his identity is wrapped up in it. “His response was that his name is part of who he is, so he’s not changing,” shared OP.
He also insists that he can’t change it because it’s “my family name.”
His Identity vs. Hers
OP expressed frustration at the blatant hypocrisy in his words. They’re both middle-aged adults (he’s 45, she’s 39), and OP didn’t mention that either had a famous family name like “Kennedy” or “Windsor.”
Yet he claims he can’t change his because it’s his identity while simultaneously insisting she change hers.
What about her identity? Why is his identity and his family name more important than hers?
“It feels rough to build a name and legacy for yourself under a maiden name and then just lose it because you got married,” said one user.
“The fact that he considers your identity disposable, as if this was 1950 and the world revolves around patrilineage, should be a little concerning,” said another.
A commenter asked OP what he said when she pointed out his hypocrisy.
“He views the wife taking the husband’s name as traditional,” she shared, adding, “he likes the idea of his family name being carried on if we decide to have a child.”
Many users scoffed that he’d hide behind “tradition” for a decision with such misogyny roots.
“As the entire feminist movement has proven, traditional does not always mean it’s a GOOD idea,” said one.
The Couple Must Decide
As the saying goes, tradition is just peer pressure from ancestors. Ultimately, each person must decide for themselves how to approach a name change. If a woman doesn’t want to change it, she shouldn’t have to, and her husband-to-be shouldn’t pressure her to give up her entire identity for his sake.
If the couple can’t agree on whether to continue a sexist tradition or not, they probably aren’t compatible in the long run.
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