If you have children, will they take your last name or your husbands?

Both are acceptable choices in my opinion. I once had a teacher that combined her name with her husbands for a totally new name. I kinda like that idea. It is unique if nothing else. One risk you run if you do take your husbands name is finding letters addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe”- in other words you lose both your last name and first name. It is something minor and I suppose most people don’t care.

The Happy Feminist

Oy, the children thing is a toughie. I probably will cave on that, but I'm open to suggestions. I take solace in Amanda's point that no one can be a totally pure feminist, and that's the area where I'm willing to compromise.

My husband has his mother's last name -- he switched from his father's to his mother's last name when he was a teenager because his parents got divorced. One reason my husband didn't want to change his name to mine was that he'd already changed his name once.


This is interesting- Due to a random set of circumstances, I have my mother's last name (and she has her mother's last name, via her stepdad). My brothers have my stepdad's last name.
My boyfriend's mother's family is from an area of India where they do something similar- girl children take their mother's last name, boy children take their father's, and no one changes their last name upon marriage. I think that upon marriage we would do the same-


Happy... I really, really dislike the "Mrs. John Doe", and people STILL do that on wedding invites. Is it really that hard to take five more seconds to write Mr. and Mrs (both names or NO names) Doe, or in your case Mr. X and M(R)S. Y?

I've not made a decision on this issue, nor do I have to any time soon! Perhaps I am naive, but I dont see how changing ones last name is not being a true feminist. Yes, I agree it is a compromise to change your name (and it is to the man's name). But I also see that marriage is made up of compromise for both men and women. I suppose it could be argued that "why should women give up their names and not men." To that, I have no answer.

I suppose my opposition in giving up my name has little to do with my feminism, but that I really like my last name... it's short and easy to spell (unlike my first name). I also wonder if it will be hard for our ancestors to trace us back in time when we have name merging etc... but that might be a non-issue because record keeping is so much better now than it was in the 1700s etc. I always thought I would keep my name for business and my husband's for personal. But that just seems too complicated.

Hmm, I don't know on this one... the jury is still out for me.


Ooh, that's neat, Kira. Since children aren't on my radar screen, they weren't a factor in my decision to keep my name. We'll cross that bridge when or if we come to it.

HF, I like your response to the "but it's still a man's name" thing, said to women who keep their last name. That was one source of my conflicted feelings (as I wrote in my post), but you're right, it's so simple: it IS my name. It was given to me by a man, but it's MINE. And I'd like to keep it that way. :)

The Happy Feminist

Minor but important distinction, aisy: A woman who changes her name can still be a feminist. (I am not out to police anyone's feminist credentials-- I am sure I could be found wanting in certain respects myself.) BUT compromising on the name thing is an unfeminist act. It's okay for a feminist to do it but she should recognize that it is a compromise of her feminism. The importance she places on that compromise is up to her.

I agree that compromise with one's spouse is an important part of marriage. This is an area where the man needs to compromise any wish he may have for his wife to take his last name. A woman's last name is always going to be more important to her than it is to him -- after all, it's HER name. Personally, in my marriage, I'll compromise 'til the cows come home on any issue UNLESS it involves putting myself or appearing to put myself in a subordinate position based on my sex. (I admit that I'm not entirely consistent though because I will likely give my kids my husband's last name in a bow to patriarchal convention -- but at least that has nothing to do with MY name or MY role in the marriage.)


I added my husband`s last name after mine, after 12 years of marriage and 3 children. So I now have two legal last names, with no hyphen. I usually use one or the other.

We gave all 3 kids my last name as a middle name. One day I heard the older two (then 5 and 7) talking, and wondering why they had boh names but I didn`t have their other name. I explained that I wanted to keep my identity and didn`t want to change my name, but my older son pointed out, "Mama, you`re not changing your name -- you`re just ADDING to it." This seemed like irrefutable logic to me.

And I was already using his name to make restaurant reservations, anyway, because it`s easier to spell than mine.

The kids are now trying to get their father to add my last name as his middle name. I wish them luck.

The Happy Feminist

I admit that I use his name for restaurant reservations. Otherwise it would probably add up to years of my life trying to spell my last name for people (and my name is actually spelled just like it sounds but people still can't handle it).


As a traditionalists, I don't see what the problem is. I loved my husband a lot and viewed him loving me so much that he was willing to give his name to me. I look at it as a wonderful gift. Sure, I gave my name up (it was actually my father's name and so it seems inconsistent and confusing because my mom had to give up her name. If we all kept "our" names wouldn't they be a mile long and growing?

It also gets confusing for children. That would be strange if I kept my last name and my son took his father's. No offense, I also think it is disrespectful to masculinity but then again, you think a lot of traditional views of masculinity is myth or some conspriracy hatched by Christians and boarish, oppressive men.

I just don't get feminism extremism. Maybe that is why I keep coming back. I don't know why everyone gets in a tither over something like last names.

the pirate's wife

When I married, I didn't even briefly entertain the idea of assuming my husband's surname. Nor will I allow anyone to refer to me as "Mrs." I hate the term "Mrs". To me, it reeks of invisibility. As to my surname, I will not give that up for anything. It's a unique surname and it's one of the first words I learned to print when I was a little girl. To lose my name is to lose an important part of my sense of separateness from everyone else. And I need that separate and personal identity to reassure myself that I haven't been swallowed up by the world. I've never liked the idea that upon marriage, two people become "one". (it ranks right up there with the gag-inducing concept of "soulmates"). I was separate, unique and whole before I got married and if I gave up my name I would lose a portion of my sense of individuality. I might as well as cut off my right arm.

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