There is also the option of both spouses hyphenating their names. I consider that the ultimate symbolic act of gender neutrality, all while honoring their in-laws and having pride for their own families at once.

The Happy Feminist

I think it is nice, although it could get unwieldy if the custom continues down the generations. "Hello my name is Happy Smith-Jones-Anderson-Roberts." It would be great if we could make it work somehow!


I think some Hispanic cultures do it that way (although only a wife would have the hyphenated name), so even though the maiden name eventually gets dropped after each generation, it actually makes genealogy easier for them when exploring very old marriage lines (I guess it wouldn't make much of a difference these days).


Seriously, don't you think with the internet in every home that tracing your family tree generations from now will just be a matter of how much money you want to pay and not who took who's name? I had a free trial on one of those ancestor accounts and I found some interesting information on my paternal grandmother just knowing her name. Not a real compelling argument for why a woman should take on her husband's name.


And what exactly is the "Precipice?"

Sandy D.

Newsflash for this lady against feminism: if your genealogy goes back more than a couple of generations, it is more than likely that some of the fathers identified in the records weren't really the fathers. Hell, some of the mothers identified in the records probably weren't the mothers either (thinking of teenaged girl's daughter being passed off as a sibling here).

I had no idea that "silly egalitarian fads" had the ability to demolish record-keeping and the paper (and digital) trails of the 21st century. The abyss awaits! I'm sure that history will be never be read or appreciated once we fall off that precipice, too.

btw, HF, I'm glad to "see" you back again. :-)


Man - what babies. If Patriarchy is teetering over "the precipice" because some people are changing naming traditions, creating a feminist utopia is going to be easier work than I thought.


I'm not exaclty seeing how it is anti-feminist to choose to follow a tradition. If any reasons are vaild for choosing whose name should change, doesn't that make tradition a valid reason to choose? Our church doesn't require women to change their names, but I was honored that my wife chose to do so. Just as I was honored that she accepted my marriage proposal. I did no coerce her beyond flowers, candy, and my boyish charm; both decisions were free for her.

And, what would gender-neutral name changing look like? I find it hard to grasp in any practical way: would half of the men and half of the women change their names in a quota fashion? Would there be endless hyphenation? Or perhaps the couple should pick a new name that is neither of their previous names? Just curious.


It isn't anti-feminist to choose to follow a tradition, JimmyV. It is feminist: having the ability to choose (i.e. a degree of power over your own life) is a feminist principle. When my wife decided to follow tradition and take my last name it was a feminist act because she did so through her own free will, without coercion from me or my family. She was glad to get rid of her old, easily mispelled name and take my very generic and therefore less frequently mangled one. But had she wished otherwise, it wouldn't have been a problem.

There are many cultures that do not use last names, or that do not change either spouse's last name upon marriage. Our divorce rate far exceeds that of any of these other cultures. So I don't think there's much traction to arguments that failing to take the husband's name leads to family problems.


I'm a Scandinavian, and it has never occurred to me that I might change my name, even though my mother's generation often did. My husband is American, an ex-fundie turned feminist, and thinks my choice is great. The norm in Norway nowadays seems to be to give your kids both the mother and the father's last name, un-hyphenated, which often has a nice rhythm to it I think. (At least my name does!) Another evolving trend is to keep the father's last name and give the child a 'matronym' as a middle name, in Icelandic fashion.

The father's last name is still the actual last name on paper. As common usage, however, both names are equally important - I would never introduce myself with just my father's last name. Also, Scandinavians rarely use titles; you are on a first-name basis with everyone, from your friends' parents to the Prime Minister. Which simplifies things in the name game.

I am opposed to name changes because of the way it historically implicates that a woman is the property of her husband, yet I understand the romantic connotations, the excitement of becoming something more and different than you were, the desire for unity, disliking your original name for your own reasons, etc. My husband's conservative family take my decision almost personally, as if it means I don't really want to join the family. And my mother-in-law flat out refuses to acknowledge it and sends all letters addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Husband's Name. As a woman it's easy to feel that you should try to please people/not stir things up (ah, patriarchy) and that can be hard to deal with. "And what about the poor children? Will no one think of the children!" I get A LOT of that, even from strangers. Even though said children do not exist.

The comments to this entry are closed.