Three Counties Feature on Name Change

// 22 July 2009

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Why does the tradition for a woman to change her name after marriage still persist? I briefly contributed to a discussion on this issue with Luke Ashmead on BBC Three Counties radio last week and, on listening again, was heartened to find large portions of the last half hour of the show (02.02.25 – 02.58.00) devoted to the topic, with Luke continuing to take the stance that the convention is actually dated and pointless. He also railed against the double-standard that is often revealed whenever it’s suggested that a man could take a woman’s name:

“A lot of men listening to this programme will probably be shaking their heads in disbelief that a man would kind of just give up his identity… I don’t know why men would do that because that, in effect, is what men ask women to do all the time and I think it’s outrageous.”

Here are a few other interesting quotes from the show:

“I’d been my maiden name until the age of 27 and I woke up on the morning of my wedding… and cried my heart out. I said ‘I don’t feel as if I’m anybody now. I’m not yet Mrs and I’ve lost being Miss. I don’t feel as if I have an identity’… I hated it… It took me a long time to get over it.” (Judy from Leagrave)

“Oh listen to that! My name! My name! Why is it so important for them to take your name? Why don’t you take their name? I’m Victoria Cook and if somebody told me they wouldn’t marry me unless I took their surname, they could sling their hook!” (member of the show’s team, Victoria Cook, responding to hearing another caller emphasising the importance of his wife taking his name)

“What strikes and irritates me is the men you’ve had phoning in saying ‘well, if they want to keep their name because they’re famous or a celebrity or a business woman… I suppose that’s alright…’ But why is it alright? If I want to keep my name, I don’t need to have an excuse to keep my name. I can just keep it” (Penny Lukats)

“Why the hell, just because a woman falls in love with you… Just because a woman wants to get married to you… Why the hell should she have to give up her identity and take on yours?” (Luke Ashmead to caller, Matthew, who said it was very important for his wife and children to take his name)

You can still access the feature until 2pm tomorrow.

Photo by Cedarjunction, shared under a Creative Commons Licence.

Comments From You

Wisrutta Atthakor // Posted 22 July 2009 at 9:50 pm

Listening to the programme as I type this … and I am 100% with you, Holly. One thing that always kind of gets to me though is the term “maiden name”, which to me already kind of suggests that if you have a “maiden” name then you would have a “married” name when marrying. I actually prefer the term “birth name”, which is the name you are given at birth and to me, really, should be the name you retain throughout life. It is for me. It is my identity.

I can definitely see the difficulties related to keeping one’s birth name, but I don’t see that it’s anyone’s right to make that choice for you! I am married and I never had any doubt or question in my own mind about ever changing my name in any way. It was, to me, inconceivable that I should be “handed over” to my husband to become his property by being labelled with his label. It doesn’t make me love him any less, and frankly, if he had had a problem with me retaining my own identity when we married, then I think that perhaps he may not have been the one for me. That’s how I feel, anyway.

There aren’t questions about men’s names and identities and I really don’t see why there should be women’s.

Anyway, very well said, Holly. I agree with completely!

Wisrutta Atthakor // Posted 22 July 2009 at 9:57 pm

Oh yeah, I also think that the suggestions with respect to children’s names that Sarah Louisa Phythian-Adams makes in her article “In the name of the father” (/features/2008/08/in_the_name_of) is a fantastic idea! I tried to tell people about the naming of children and so on the way that Sarah suggested and I was amazed at how many people laughed at me and looked at me as if I were mad. I personally found their reactions rather unfortunate.

Rob M // Posted 22 July 2009 at 10:20 pm

Why does the tradition for a woman to change her name after marriage still persist?

Well, because it’s tradition, innit. And plenty of women want to do it.

I think it’s pretty off for the obvious reasons (but then I think similarly of the whole marriage thing, so my personal opinion on this single bit is kind of moot.)

What is clearly fucked is the bloke insisting on it, or feeling insulted or whatever if the lass doesn’t change her name. Who gives a fuck? It’s her name. So, that’s clearly pretty insecure, arguably nuts, and at worst sinister.

But I think you are overlooking the fact that plenty of women actually want to do it, as part of the whole ‘marriage’ thing (and the fellas want them to, but it’s wrong to assume coercion needs to be involved.) And there’s weight with tradition, and plenty of people like to go along with it. Ultimately, although I’m uncomfortable with it as being a sign of something bigger and awful, on it’s own it’s a fairly unoffensive thing that is ‘just done,’ part and parcel of marriage, so most wouldn’t think to bother not going with it.

Holly Combe // Posted 22 July 2009 at 11:13 pm

I agree that most people seem to take the name changing tradition on its own (i.e without the baggage) as something that’s ‘just done’. It easily happens and, though the name issue is particularly important for me, I’m sure there must have been passing decisions in my life not connected with my special interests, pet hates or passions where I ended up just doing the ‘done thing’.

…I think you are overlooking the fact that plenty of women actually want to do it, as part of the whole ‘marriage’ thing (and the fellas want them to, but it’s wrong to assume coercion needs to be involved.)

I’d say I’m actually painfully aware of this! As I said on the programme (as well as on various other occasions), it’s something that a lot of women -including many who I respect and love- choose to do and that can make it quite a difficult issue to talk about in same-sex groups. Obviously the whole question of “choice” is very fraught but I’d rather give a woman the credit for knowing her own mind than start lecturing her. Still, it’s hard because the issue is such a stark one for me.

Wisrutta Atthakor // Posted 22 July 2009 at 11:13 pm

@Rob: Yes, perhaps it is wrong to assume that coercion needs to be involved. But if it is accepted and done without question or because ‘that’s what’s expected of me’ or ‘that’s just the way things are traditionally done’, then I really do think it needs to be challenged. I know that “plenty of women actually want to do it, as part of the whole ‘marriage’ thing” but then what is the whole ‘marriage’ thing? There isn’t one set idea of what the whole marriage thing is, or should be. I mean, I don’t hold with the idea that when a woman and a man get married they then become ‘one’. To me, that’s a ridiculous concept. They are still two people. They still have our own thoughts and ideas (or should do, anyway) and they agree on some things and disagree on others. The thought that the wife and children should ‘belong’ to the man’s clique (as one of the men on the show put it) is absurd.

Rob M // Posted 23 July 2009 at 12:09 am

I’d say I’m actually painfully aware of this!

Ack, sorry – I didn’t listen to the thing (I’m reading whilst watching TV: the procrastinator’s choice.)

I know that “plenty of women actually want to do it, as part of the whole ‘marriage’ thing” but then what is the whole ‘marriage’ thing? There isn’t one set idea of what the whole marriage thing is, or should be.

Well, aye. But whilst I’m more “reject the lot!”, and I guess you’re more “choose the good bits, change the bad”, there are definitely many who are very much “accept the lot!” Which includes all the trad trappings: guy asks father for the girl’s ‘hand’, guy proposes, engagement ring, wedding rings, stag dos and hen nights, white dress, somethings old/new/borrowed/blue, church, best man, maitron of honour, bridesmaids, page boys, father ‘gives the bride away’, here comes the bride, veil, “honour and obey,” kiss, confetti, photos, dinner, drinks, speeches, dancing, drunkeness, consummating, taking the guy’s name, honeymoon… And more. Tradition is comfy, and marriage comes with a whole fuckload of little bits and bobs – expected of everyone involved.

I think there is one very strong set idea and image of what a marriage should be – not in spirit or meaning, but in all the little bullshit. It’s a big, brutally expensive package. There’s such a weight of expectation and tradition, it probably takes strength to go ahead with a marriage and try to ditch some of that. And if you are doing that, there are stand-outs in there that both are more obviously anachronistic and horrendous, and more commonly seen to be malleable without affecting the whole, that you could get tired of shedding traditions by the time you get to the name change bit.

I can see – as it’s something ‘everybody’ does, and you’re going through with the thing – that, “Hey, it’s just a name, why not?” And if you’re asking the why not, you’re approaching it from a different angle than someone who’s already got their why not forefronted.

I’d be intrigued in the reasoning of anyone who did go in from a strongly anti-patriarchal angle, but kept the name change. Although I assume that still then the answer would just wanting to keep tradition in one of the more innocuous ways.

Or, maybe, “my last name his shit, and his is better.”

(I was heading in some direction when I started typing this, I’m sure…)

But if it is accepted and done without question or because ‘that’s what’s expected of me’ or ‘that’s just the way things are traditionally done’, then I really do think it needs to be challenged.

…I really should have just quoted this and said “I agree”. It’s a good guiding principle in approaching anything.

Holly Combe // Posted 23 July 2009 at 12:21 am

Wisrutta: Yes! The whole convention is just so antiquated but, sometimes, I think only a really obvious example of old-school thinking like the guy you mention above will highlight that. We’ve just had so many years of conventional society presenting us with the same old disingenuous gender pantomime, where the script says marriage and everything that comes with it is somehow “best for women”, while men apparently “can’t see what the fuss is all about”. I think it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy superficially so that people don’t linger too long on the original and intended function of marriage. Perhaps seeing such a stark example of what the name change was originally designed to reflect is helpfully obscene?

Completely agree with you about the “maiden name” tag, by the way. It harks back to a time when women were expected to be “virgins” before they married. Yuck.

Lydia // Posted 23 July 2009 at 12:26 am

I’ve never understood some men’s obsession with their wife taking their name. What’s even wierder to me is when letters come through the door addressed to ‘Mrs. (insert husband’s first name and surname)’. You seem to lose your first name too in some cases!!

I think it’s great that this is being discussed at all though, women are starting to make a decision about this rather than just changing their name without thinking about it.

Personally, I dislike my surname. I intend to find out my family’s real, Russian, surname and take that. If not, and I married my boyfriend, I may well take his name as it’s AWESOME and he would take mine if it was the more interesting of the two.

I don’t see it as at all important that families all have to share a name. That’s not what makes a family. And I find the idea of any man insisting on forcing his own name identity onto me downright offensive.

Nobody’s giving me away to anybody IF I ever got married.

Holly Combe // Posted 23 July 2009 at 12:48 am

Rob: I think, deep down (for myself), I pretty much reject the lot too but I think choosing the good bits and rejecting the bad is not such a terrible idea, in a wider sense.

Re: being intrigued about the reasoning of anyone who goes in from a strongly anti-patriarchal angle, but keeps the name change. I am too but, sometimes, I suppose it’s just a question of priorities or “choosing one’s battles”. (As you say, you can see how a person might get tired of “shedding traditions” by the time they get to the name change bit!)

I would ideally like to see the whole Mrs Him tradition die out forever but, aside from sticking to my principles in terms of my own choices and talking about this sort of thing, I’m not sure I can really help make that change. Certainly, I think it would be very hard to function in society if I really went to town with my views. It seems that even people who challenge “the way things are traditionally done” in their own lives will often end up acquiescing to those rituals to some extent when people close to them do it.

Holly Combe // Posted 23 July 2009 at 1:05 am

What’s even wierder to me is when letters come through the door addressed to ‘Mrs. (insert husband’s first name and surname)’ (Lydia)

Thankfully, I think that particularly revolting tradition is rapidly dying out. As you say, it does still happen but I don’t think a company gives a very good impression if they default to the practice. (It always used to creep me out whenever my Mum occasionally got something addressed in that manner and it hasn’t happened to her in a while.)

As someone who instinctively thinks “who the hell’s that?” if I receive something that incorrectly calls me “Miss Holly Combe”, I think getting such a letter if I was living with/married to my partner would just be puzzling and seem like a joke. I don’t think I’d be able to resist following up with a phonecall to find out what exactly had gone wrong.

That’s the thing actually… Challenging organisations and officialdom is the easy bit.

Helen // Posted 23 July 2009 at 8:12 am

I’m actually getting married on Saturday (after being with my partner for 11 years and swearing that marriage wasn’t for me for most of that time) so this is very timely!

We have very consciously ignored the major sexist traditions – I’m not wearing a white dress, we’re walking down the aisle together (no “giving away” for me!), we’re giving a speech together, and I’m keeping my name. However, I’ve already started getting mail from elderly relatives addressed to Helen and Fella Hislastname. There is such a huge assumption that I will change my name – even from people who know my feminist principles! I’m a teacher, and several of my pupils have been scandalized that I’m keeping my name.

For me, my name is part of my identity. I like my name better than his name. I’m used to it. And just because I’m marrying him, it doesn’t mean that I’m leaving my family and joining his. I am still a member of my birth family and I want my name to reflect that.

A minor solution I’ve come up with is to make up small “sender’s address” stickers to put on the envelopes of our thank you cards after the wedding – with both names and my name first, just to get the point across firmly!

Katie Edge // Posted 23 July 2009 at 8:37 am

Gosh, the Beeb did not make that easy for me to listen to. I’m still only part of the way through, and I suppose I wasn’t really expecting a lively and informed discussion of the feminist/patriarchal issues surrounding the question, but I am disappointed they’ve asked John McCruick on. His position is so polarised that I can only assume he’s been asked on to grab ratings. People who view any given issue as an extreme joke generally contribute very little to progression of an argument. What a shame.

CMK // Posted 23 July 2009 at 9:50 am

Am I the only one to think that this is a ‘nice’ practice? Two people love each other, make a commitment to one another and share the same name as a public statement that they are a couple. I always thought it was rather sweet.

I never really saw this as an issue of one party having dominance over the other, and if that’s the way people felt about it then that is not a great start to a marriage.

It should be a choice to change names or not, but I think its nice to do so.

Holly Combe // Posted 23 July 2009 at 10:29 am

It depends though, CMK, doesn’t it? If a woman thinks it’s nice, is making the commitment to a man and happens to like the idea of him taking her name, I’d say she’d probably be up for some serious opposition (if not from the guy then from family or friends). If she thinks they should share the same name then she’d be saved a lot of hassle if she did things in the traditional way and took his.

That’s hardly an unconstrained choice is it?

Meanwhile, if a man thinks it’s nice to share the same name and is making the commitment to a woman, it will generally be assumed that his future wife will be taking his so if that’s the set-up he wants, he doesn’t even have to justify himself. But what if he wants to take her name because he is keen to join her family or doesn’t like his own name, for whatever reason? Again, I’d like to be wrong but I suspect some opposition or, at the very least, bemusement would be brewing.

If a man said he thought it would be a “nice thing to do”, I would ask if he’d be okay with being the one to make the change. Perhaps I’d be pleasantly surprised by the answer. Either way, I’d suggest that would be a good question to follow such a declaration.

SapphireCate // Posted 23 July 2009 at 10:31 am

If they both change their names it’s nice and sweet (or extraordinarily creepy, YMMV).

If one person loses her identity in formalising the relationship while the other maintains his, I see nothing nice in it at all. I’ve yet to meet a man change his name to his wife’s on marriage – it never occurs to them, and if the idea is raised, it is mocked as weak (effeminate), silly (effeminate), and somehow a loss of status (effeminate). How is that nice?

Anne Onne // Posted 23 July 2009 at 11:29 am

@ Rob M: The anti-patriarchical reason for changing one’s name is often cited as being ‘they’re both names from two Anglo-Saxon (or whatever) patriarchs, I didn’t feel attached to mine, and like his.’ or some variation thereof.

I can understand this point of view, the not feeling attached to a name, though I don’t personally share it. However, for many people, there isn’t an examination of whose name to take, or conscious thought about how this will affect each partner. It’s just an expectation.

That on the whole men feel very attached to their names, with a significant portion of heterosexual men expecting (or secretly hoping) their girlfriend will take theirs, whilst women on the whole, as you pointed out, grow up trained to look forward to the marriage deal, and are often brought up to see changing one’s name as an inevitable rite of passage. Even if many women change their names willingly because they don’t feel that attached to them, I think it still bears asking why they don’t compared to men, and why we train girls to expect to give up part of their identity but don’t ask the same of boys. I agree that people need to examine why they want to go through with something, and whether it’s simply because everyone else does it. But I do think additionally as a society, if not individually, we need to address the expectation of one half to keep their name and expect their partner to change theirs, and of the other half that they are expected to change. And of course address the expectations of people outside the partnership, who often pressure women by making them feel uncomfortable if they don’t go along with tradition.

That’s where CMK’s comment comes in. See, if in theory male and female partners took each other’s names fairly equally, it would be great. Each couple makes a choice depending on who likes their name, maybe they decide on a new one or a hyphenated one or whatever. But in reality it’s not like this. Coming from a historical context of a wife being considered a possession that was given to a husband and considered no longer part of her family and now part of his, it was only wives who were expected to take their husband’s name. Although women no longer ‘belong’ to men, this tradition has not been examined much by society as a whole. Today nobody will tell you a name change makes you belong to a man, but many people might tell you that it’s a nice gesture to prove you love him. He won’t tell you that you must change your name because you belong to him, because he doesn’t literally think that. But he might tell you that he feels emasculated and insulted and unloved if you don’t.

The fact that the pressure is on women to change their names is not coincidental, and betrays the fact that unlike in theory, it’s more than just a cute gesture.

@ SapphireCate: It does happen, I think a man even wrote about it here at the F word, or was linked to. It’s just that men who change their names get so much crap in turn for this: they ‘handed in their man card’, have ‘lost’ something, are ’emasculated’ etc. A lot of men (and women) see changing a name as being a disempowering thing on some level, yet expect women to do this to prove they love their partner.

Wisrutta Atthakor // Posted 23 July 2009 at 11:46 am

@Helen: You’d be surprised (or not) how difficult it is to make people come round to the fact that you’ve not changed your name upon marriage. For some reason, people never have a problem addressing both of you as separate people before there was a question of marriage, yet when married, addressing you separately is just ‘too long’ or ‘inconvenient’! I would suggest that you make it clear on your wedding day – announce it or something. After all, they keep announcing the ‘new Mr and Mrs such-and-such’. When I got married, we decided not to bother announcing the fact that we’re both retaining our birth names ‘coz we thought, well, it’s our business really and perhaps we were a bit naive to think that it would be easy to bring people round to this ‘unorthodox’ way. Big mistake, I came to find. There were immediate cards being given and sent to us as Mr and Mrs HISNAME HISSURNAME! I was absolutely livid! All of a sudden, I didn’t even have a first name anymore! So we did the whole sending out thank you cards with our full names on the card, addressed labels with both our full names on the envelope (front and back) and where we wrote a letter as well, the address label was stuck in the corner of the letter paper to. Guess what, we still got replies to: Mr and Mrs Hisname Hissurname. Some of them who didn’t know what to do addressed the envelop to us as “Mr Hisname Hissurname and Wisrutta”. You gotta laugh at it, I guess, but sigh at the same time.

While people may argue that ‘it’s just a name, who cares?’ then I question why it is so difficult for people to accept that this is MY name and I want to keep it that way? And why should they care if I want it this way? Why should people insist on giving me a new one, when I specifically say I don’t want one? What right have they to re-brand me something else? “A rose by any other name” etc etc but this rose by *this* name is staying this name, not “the rose that belongs to …”

“I’d say I’m actually painfully aware of this! As I said on the programme (as well as on various other occasions), it’s something that a lot of women -including many who I respect and love- choose to do and that can make it quite a difficult issue to talk about in same-sex groups.”

Yes, it really is a difficult issue to talk about to other women, esp women who choose to make the change. I don’t want to sound like “oh, why are you changing your name? It’s so antiquated and a result of patriarchal society” or condemn them for choosing to make the change. But at the same time, I often feel defensive about my choice to keep my identity as I am often made to feel as if I’m a “terrible woman who doesn’t love her husband if she doesn’t take his name”; I feel guilty that I may be offending his family, although I then feel angry about feeling guilty because I shouldn’t have to. It may just be a name, but there is so much controversy attached to it either way.

Laura // Posted 23 July 2009 at 11:50 am

Friends of mine both changed their names so now they have a double barreled surname. I am going to take my fiances name but keep my own name professionally as I have a publication record behind it.

I really like the spanish system where you get your maternal grandmothers and paternal grandfathers names (I think), this means neither partner changes their names on marriage but children get a name from both lineages

dizzy_sparkle // Posted 23 July 2009 at 11:58 am

There are other aspects to take into account too – I got married last year and we had a feminist a wedding as we both wanted (equal vows, no giving away, best man and woman, both give speeches, etc). However, I changed my name to his for two reasons – firstly, I have a strained/estranged relationship to my own family due to abuse issues, and secondly, because I love his family to bits and he has a very excellent surname (Flower). I always give my title as Ms., though (which still causes its own set of stupid problems – people still seem to think they can override your own choice if they can see you are married!).

That said, it was a hard decision, because if my family background had been different I wouldn’t have done it owing to my beliefs. In our case my partner and I saw it as a great opportunity to mark a very positive transition.

In fact for me the surname thing becomes more complicated, because I changed it by deed poll (to disassociate from my family) when I was 19, so the notion of surname=identity is fairly fluid for me. I did find though, that having a name unconnected to anyone was a strange experience, and I really value the bond my new surname strengthens with my in-laws (whom I am much closer to than my own family).

However I do get guilty feminist pangs sometimes, as I’m not going to explain myself to everyone but at the same time I would like to make my choices explicit! Ha.

What *really* annoys me is when I get letters addressed to “Mr and Mrs HisInitial OurSurname” – Grrrrrr! I usually send a letter complaining and giving them the proper titles, etc. Strangely enough, I am getting a lot of election material at the moment (we live in Norwich), and its usually the Conservatives and (gag) the BNP/UKIP which address their letters/lies this way…. hmmmmm.

Anyway, just wanted to point out that you can have firmly held beliefs against the need to change your surname and take his, but that circumstances can still make it the best choice!

Holly Combe // Posted 23 July 2009 at 12:45 pm

Even if many women change their names willingly because they don’t feel that attached to them, I think it still bears asking why they don’t compared to men, and why we train girls to expect to give up part of their identity but don’t ask the same of boys. (Anne)

Exactly! And, as Saphirecate says, it unfortunately tends to be mocked if men even consider it.

I tend to think it’s a bit of a cop-out when people say ‘they’re both names from two patriarchs’. We know we can’t change history but why should that be a reason not to try and instigate change at all? If anything, that uncomfortable truth just lends weight to the choice some people make to come up with a completely new name. Failing that, I think helping the names we have to evolve in a more egalitarian way by refusing to carry on the tradition is obviously better than nothing.

Holly Combe // Posted 23 July 2009 at 1:03 pm

dizzy_sparkle, that sounds like a perfectly good reason to change your name and it’s frustrating to think of how easily some people will just default to just assuming you did “the done thing” if you don’t explain yourself (and why should you have to?)

I guess we just need to get to the point where a guy in a similar position would be equally enabled to make a similar decision.

Hazel // Posted 23 July 2009 at 1:11 pm

I never for one moment considered changing my name when I got married.

I like my name well enough and, importantly, it has been my name all my life. I really don’t care that it is my father’s surname and it was his father’s surname, etc. That’s how things were then but there is no persuasive reason it has to be like that now.

Personally, I think the next important step is to tackle the notion of why children are generally given their father’s surname as a matter of course.

Lilly // Posted 23 July 2009 at 4:10 pm

I’d never give up my name on marriage, but a part of me can’t help but wonder to what extent this pride is also patriarchal in origin, as the little voice in my head that revolts against the thought of losing my name also pipes up, ‘This is the name of *my father*, and my father doesn’t have sons, but that doesn’t matter because I’m as good as a son…’ After all, some aristocratic women in history have also given their names to their husbands – and been intensely proud of their names, too – but the reasoning was always patriarchal: in this scenario, the woman was a powerful exception to womankind in general, a ‘stand-in male’. It makes me wonder whether holding onto one’s father’s name is really a feminist alternative or whether it just perpetuates this idea of exceptional women (= in this case, modern, empowered women) as stand-in males… and I’d really rather not be an exception in this sense. The idea that today’s daughters are ‘as good as’ sons in itself makes me uncomfortable – as far as I’m concerned, that should be a non-issue; the most important goal (to me) is self-sufficient womanhood, not proving we can measure up to males, and it makes my head hurt trying to come up with an alternative naming tradition that would reflect this.

However, I’ve always been rather partial to the idea of combining elements of two names into one new name. For instance, Greene and Scott (to pick two random names from my TBR pile) marry and become the Greenscotts.

… could be just me, though ;-)

Mark // Posted 23 July 2009 at 9:20 pm

Lilly:

You wondered about hanging on to another man’s surname? Don’t. It’s yours.

When we are born we are bequeathed a surname. Usually it is that of the father, but I had a school friend whose Polish father took his wife’s surname, so my friend also had it. My guess is that he is as attached to his surname as most other blokes.

Some people argue that women merely ‘borrow’ their father’s surname. Yet boys somehow ‘own’ theirs. If both boys and girls get a surname it must be ‘theirs’ whether or not they are male or female. If a girl is merely borrowing it then my friend’s mother didn’t ‘own’ her surname so could not pass it on to her son. Yet she did. So, clearly, she owned her own surname as much as her husband owned his.

The only way of looking at surnames is to consider that it has belonged to you since birth – whatever its origins – and whether you are male or female. Then, if it’s not OK for men to abandon their surname it cannot be OK for women either. It is either OK for both or OK for neither.

Anne Onne // Posted 23 July 2009 at 10:01 pm

While people may argue that ‘it’s just a name, who cares?’ then I question why it is so difficult for people to accept that this is MY name and I want to keep it that way? (Wisrutta Atthakor)

Exactly. It’s a name, and for some people it may matter more than others, but you shouldn’t assume someone doesn’t care what they are called. People say it’s ‘just a name’, but conveniently it’s only women who are supposed to put up with being called whatever people want to call them rather than what they prefer. Nobody tells men ‘it’s only a name’ when they object to being labelled someone they are not.

If it’s ‘only a name’ then it can’t matter to someone else if they take a minute to think and address someone as they want to be called. Anything else is among other things being rude because you don’t care if you offend someone.

As for titles, I do like the idea of the title ‘Miss’ being retained like ‘Master’ until someone reaches 18, when it is automatically updated with ‘Ms or Mr. respectively (are there gender-neutral titles apart from professional ones?). But those who want to call themselves Mrs would still be able to (since it seems quite popular).

I tend to think it’s a bit of a cop-out when people say ‘they’re both names from two patriarchs’. We know we can’t change history but why should that be a reason not to try and instigate change at all?

Agreed, change is a good thing, and there’s no reason that we can’t start now. What irritates me is where this reasoning is used as a reason to suggest a woman should take ‘his’ name i.e that her name isn’t mine anyway so what does it matter?

Personally, I see my name as much mine as that of my male family members. More, maybe. For them it’s something they expect to keep on, something they take for granted. Their right to it is not contested, they aren’t seen as doing wrong for keeping it if they wish. For me, it feels like something I’m reclaiming. It’s something many people expect me to give up to prove I’m acting like a proper woman. It’s mine and keeping it doesn’t feel at all like I’m playing into the boys’ club because the patriarchs would never have expected or wanted me to carry on ‘their’ name, probably the opposite! I wouldn’t do it to prove a point to a bunch of dead distant relatives, anyway. But I would do it as a person in their own right who wants to say ‘this is the name that was given to me, and I like it.’

Of course, for anyone who wants to change their name for whatever reason more power to them! People deserve the choice to do so without pressure from the system and society, so that everyone can choose what is best for them.

I so think it’s important to mention that double-barreling or combining names might not always work. Green and Scott are one thing, but if the couple’s surnames are Szczepanska and Arulanantham this would be more difficult. A lot of people don’t have short, easy to combine or hyphenate names, and non-Anglo-Celt names are often left out of the equation.

It’s really interesting to see how names are carried on in different societies. Surnames are not always carried on, in some South Asian and Nordic cultures, for example, the father’s name becomes the surname. Which is still patriarchical, but goes to show that people don’t NEED to have the same surname in the family to prevent society crumbling or make families traceable.

MiMi // Posted 24 July 2009 at 7:17 am

The tradition of women taking their husbands’ names has been commonplace in Britain and many other countries for centuries. Although widely accepted and unchallenged, I argue that this tradition is deeply and inextricably symbolic. A label adorning an object, be it animate or inanimate, is an emblem of ownership that clearly dictates possession.

Why on earth would I want to be labelled and ‘tagged’ by a man and therefore submissively and symbolically possessed?

So what’s the alternative? Ever suggested the idea that a man should take the woman’s name? Try it. Though a simple and straightforward procedure your ‘radical’ idea is sure to be met with snorts of disbelief and chuckles of amusement. But why? For hundreds of years women have been taking the surname of their husbands.

Isn’t it time that the shoe was on the other foot?

Personally, if I ever got married I’d want my husband and I to take both our surnames. Afterall it is equality I strive for, not matriarchy.

niqistar // Posted 24 July 2009 at 12:40 pm

Entering rather late, but never mind.. What bothers me most is the passivity of the “name change” process. Without any pro-action or consent from the women in question, society automatically allocates her a new identity on marriage. Women have to actively re-claim their pre-married name.

While we are in the fortunate position that lots of major feminsist issues are at least visibly in the public domain – debate on abortion rights, for instance -I think it is incredibly important to keep highlighting the “little things”.

I think there is still a general sense that women who do resist the name-chaning business are somehow “making a fuss”. But these insidious re-inforcements/enactments of patriarchal power (even if the underlying concepts are considered outdated by the people participating) are often the things that actually affect most women in their day-to-day lives and deserve to be addressed.

Always good to see the range of practical issues covered here.

Lizzy-Lou // Posted 24 July 2009 at 12:50 pm

Such a timely debate. I’m getting married next month and my fiance and I are both keeping our birth names.

We put this as a note at the bottom of our wedding info sheet which we enclosed with our invitations. I’ve always been very open about keeping my name and remaining a Ms – I decided when I was a child. So naively, I thought that this wouldn’t be a big surprise, just something of which we needed to remind people so that they’d know for correspondence etc. Yet I was unprepared for the range of reactions which followed.

Some of my friends were brilliant.

Friend 1: “Does ANYONE actually change their name any more?”

Friend 2: “Well, of course you’re keeping your name. It’s yours. Duh.”

But others friends reacted differently:

Friend 3: “Well, I thought about keeping my name, but then I thought about how proud I was to become Mark’s wife, and so I changed it”

My God. I nearly lost it at this point. If I wasn’t proud to become my fiance’s wife, I would never have said yes. Jeez. Does that mean her husband wasn’t proud to marry her? He didn’t change his name…

Friend 4: “I never realised you were such a feminist. Really? Are you that bothered?”

Cripes. Where do I start? Being bothered – well, it’s your identity, why should that change because you’ve fallen in love and found someone you want to spend your life with? Are the personal and legal vows not enough? And also, is being a feminist a bad thing? I don’t think so.

Relative: “But why don’t you want to be Mrs … ?”

Where do I start…. ? ;-)

Two of my work colleagues decided with their fiancees that they would both double-barrell. I think that’s a lovely idea and heck, it warms the ol’ cockles! But of the women I know, everyone has changed their name. Now, I know it’s a personal choice, and that’s fine. I can’t hide the fact that it does surprise me though.

I do sometimes wonder if anyone else has as visceral a reaction as I do when I think about suddenly not having my own name anymore. It makes me feel almost bereaved. And that’s not a good way to start a marriage.

Lizzy-Lou // Posted 24 July 2009 at 1:00 pm

PS Anyone know where else we might be able to find the broadcast – I saw the post too late to listen on iplayer…

MiMi // Posted 24 July 2009 at 7:37 pm

I can see where previous writers are coming from but I have to point out something which seems to be missing from many of the comments made above.

I think we do not only need to contest the automatic assumption that women will take their husband’s name but also the name the children shall take is of equal importance.

If a woman decides to keep her name when she marries and then decides to have children, whose name will the children take? If they take the husband’s name then they symbolically belong to his patrilineage (see my other comment above). If you decide against this, and you do not take your husband’s name, then there could be, essentially, three unique surnames within the nuclear family unit. For example, Mr Jones, Mrs Davies, and little Susan Jones-Davies. Confused? I’d be interested to hear from women who have kept their name and have had children. Have you given your children your husband’s name?

Lilly // Posted 24 July 2009 at 8:47 pm

Mark – of course, I do think my surname is my own, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world. But I just can’t really consider my choice to hold onto the name a *feminist* choice because my attitudes towards that name, ingrained since childhood, strike me as rather patriarchal. My father has always encouraged me in every way, and ever since I was a child I’ve known I am – and have been proud of being – ‘as good as (and better than) any boy’. And this is where being ‘as good as a son’ surname-wise enters into it, too.

Like I said, I can’t come up with a genuinely non-patriarchal alternative to the whole naming process. But the entire ‘carrying on the family name’ tradition *is* patriarchal through and through. The fact that women are ‘allowed’ to do it nowadays doesn’t really change it, IMO.

Anne Onne –

“Green and Scott are one thing, but if the couple’s surnames are Szczepanska and Arulanantham this would be more difficult.”

See, my own surname is not the easiest either, but this is where I think the possibilities are endless. Arulanska! Szczepantham! Szczeparulananthanska!

(Yes, I do realise I’m likely the only one who finds this idea exciting… but even so ;-))

Hazel // Posted 25 July 2009 at 12:51 am

“I’d be interested to hear from women who have kept their name and have had children. Have you given your children your husband’s name?”

No.

I’m married and our son has my surname. I have not encountered any problems or, if there have been any, I have blithely ignored them. Sometimes my husband is called Mr S but then sometimes I am called Mrs A so it evens itself out. My son is now of an age to wonder why he doesn’t have his dad’s surname because it is unusual (unique perhaps) at his school for that not to be the case. Even unmarried couples tend to give their children the father’s name.

It was a big decision for us what to name our son but not a hard one. The idea of double-barrelled names didn’t appeal to either of us (but particularly not to my husband) even though our names are not unusual. We could have flipped a coin but ultimately, nine months pregnancy won out.

As my husband says whenever the issue is discussed that it makes no difference to us as a family that we have different surnames because we call each by our first names not by our surnames.

Ironically, my dad was pleased when he heard what we were going to do because with three daughters he assumed that his name was dying out. I’m glad I pleased him but that was definitely not my intention!

MiMi // Posted 25 July 2009 at 10:57 am

Thanks Hazel, that’s really interesting. I once made the suggestion to my partner that if we had children the kids should take my name. He was strongly opposed to this idea. We come from different educational and social backgrounds, and unfortunately for me, this prevents him from being able to think outside the box soometimes.

With him being the only son of his parents, I know that his parents would be mortified if our children took my name only. This is why I would opt for the double-barrelled name. My mother would be horrified- she always saw the double surname as pompous and pretentious. I don’t, I see it as a straight-forward compromise.

So, Hazel, how did his family take it?

Summerhill // Posted 25 July 2009 at 7:32 pm

I kept my name, and my partner is comfortable with that, as are our families. Unlike some of the above accounts, he often gets post or phone calls for Mr Hersurname! When people delivering or fixing things come round to our house, they address him by my name? I find this endlessly fascinating. Does it happen to anyone else? Any why is it? Is it just because I am the one who has the bills in her name, arranges things to be fixed etc, and were these in fact traditional male roles?

And on a related note, what about women who use their partners email address and bank account? I use Ebay a lot and women so often don’t have their ‘own’ email and Paypal identities, its amazing.

Rob M // Posted 26 July 2009 at 2:07 am

(Yes, I do realise I’m likely the only one who finds this idea exciting… but even so ;-)) -Lilly

No, I think it’s cracking. On the assumption that any name change is going to happen, I think it’s one of the nicest ideas. Double-barrelling is unwieldy, and I do like the bespokeness of creating a new name. I met a lass once whose first name was a combination of her father’s and her mother’s, and it was a beautiful one.

…goes to show that people don’t NEED to have the same surname in the family to prevent society crumbling or make families traceable. -Anne Onne

I don’t think that’s the problem anyone really has. As Lizzy-Lou says, there’s an emotional attachment. I think that trumps any spurious practical considerations.

But, aye, the emotional attachment is born completely out of tradition. There’s an intriguing idea of legacy in continuing a family name, and I think I’d feel guilty if I ditched my surname – like i was blatantly insulting my family. However, in a society which didn’t have this tradition, that thought wouldn’t even crop up.

trampabroad // Posted 26 July 2009 at 11:54 am

I’ve always thought that the ideal would be to double-barrel, or if that sounds too pretentious (depending on the names), to pick the name that works ‘best’ with both first names (though obviously that’s a loaded decision sometimes).

However, one thing always intrigues me about this issue: the name I would want to keep so much is my father’s name – my mother’s is already written out of our family history! I think my dad would think I was going to estrange myself from him if I started to use my mum’s name instead.

I would favour giving children both parents’ names… and then, when they make a new family, perhaps they could pick one from each side to make their new names.

If we didn’t live under the existing convention, I think some people would be happy to do the same, but it is often women (who have taken male-line names on to replace their birth names–including divorced women) who seem to feel most strongly about it!

The fact that women are often behind this pressure raises interesting issues about what is at stake for married women, what is the status that is gained by changing a name?

One of the biggest cautions for me in changing my name at all would be letting people in my professional life know all about my marital status… PLUS, of course, everyone thinks marriage is for good when they do it, but do you really want everyone knowing you’re going through a divorce if it came to having to change your name back?

Does anyone know people who have given female children the mother’s name, and male children the father’s? It could be one fair solution, but seems a bit too problematic to me in what it says about a family–a bit gender ‘essentialist’ I suppose.

Mark // Posted 26 July 2009 at 3:08 pm

trampabroad:

“I would favour giving children both parents’ names… and then, when they make a new family, perhaps they could pick one from each side to make their new names.”

I’ve often thought this would be the ideal solution. A variant on the Spanish tradition which seems the most equitable.

“…it is often women (who have taken male-line names … who seem to feel most strongly about it!”

I wonder if there’s an element of thinking, “Well I had to lose my birth name so I’m not going to let anyone else get away with keeping theirs.

“what is the status that is gained by changing a name?”

I once wrote to the author of an article who, in her reply, told me in relatively frosty language, that she was now married and went under a different name. This has really bothered me ever since. Why did she worry what I, someone she was very unlikely ever to meet, should know she was married? Was there an element of wanting to show that, despite her accademic achievements, she had managed to ‘catch’ a man?

“Does anyone know people who have given female children the mother’s name, and male children the father’s?”

Perhaps an even better solution is to give the girls the man’s surname and the boys the woman’s.

Helen // Posted 30 July 2009 at 4:52 pm

As an addendum to my earlier comment about my imminent marriage and keeping my name – the registrar (who had been informed) invited “Mr and Mrs Hisfirstname Hislastname” to sign the schedule. It was the only sour note in a wonderful day. I’ve just picked up the marriage certificate from the office and it has the same written on the envelope (in fact the lady in the office couldn’t find it because I gave my name!).

To make up for this, we had the Best Man announce us for dinner as “Helen Myname and Hisname Hisname”. The band (who I had mostly dealt with in booking etc) also announced us (twice!) and Mr and Mrs Myname. So all in all I think it evened out!

I met someone I knew in the pub and he said, “How does the name change feel?”, to which I replied, “Fine, because it’s not happening!”. His response: “Oh, you’re one of *those*…”

Everyone else has been completely unsurprised that I’m keeping my name.

Hazel // Posted 31 July 2009 at 12:56 pm

“So, Hazel, how did his family take it?”

[I swear I replied to this before.]

Anyway, considering how conservative they are, they weren’t bothered – not to our faces anyway.

Lizzy-Lou // Posted 13 September 2009 at 9:26 pm

So, the wedding is over, and the name confusion hath commenced…

So far we have:

2 x family members (although not close ones) calling us Mr and Mrs Hisfirstname Hislastname on all post (grr)

1 x friends using Mr and Mrs Hislastname as a one off (which I actually didn’t mind so much as it was an accident)

1 x my old university changing my name on their records WITHOUT MY EVEN ASKING THEM TO (because I’d sent in a note mentioning our upcoming wedding for the alumni newsletter)

And I’ve had quite a few people at work thinking it’s weird that I’m not changing my name and must therefore be “a bra burner”. Grrr.

I actually got quite upset about my university behaving the way they did and sent them a rather pointed e-mail. But to their credit they replied straight away with the following:

“I do apologise for the mix-up. I will make sure everyone in our office knows not to make this assumption in future when updating our records. Your title and surname have been amended accordingly”

At least this having happened means that my venerable old institution got a bit of a shake up and they won’t make those assumptions again. Phew.

Aimee // Posted 13 September 2009 at 10:41 pm

“Does anyone know people who have given female children the mother’s name, and male children the father’s?”

Me!!!!

My son has my partner’s name and my daughter has mine. :)

Wisrutta Atthakor // Posted 14 September 2009 at 12:25 pm

Lizzy-Lou, your comments hit home in so many ways! Your first comment on 24 July describes exactly what I went through before (and am still going through!) getting married – all the questions & reactions you were met with & your frustrations towards those reactions, and your recent comment post-marriage on 13 September sounds all too familiar also. I’ve been married a year and a half now and I’m *still* getting Mrs Hislastname, both from ‘standard’ assumptions and from people who really should know better. Or if they see my lastname and know I’m married, it turns into Mrs Atthakor! People seem to have a problem understanding that I want to be and *am* Ms “I-do-not-wish-to-be-defined-by-my-marital-status” Atthakor! Grrr.

Carmen // Posted 14 September 2009 at 1:43 pm

The husband of one of my friends who kept her own name often gets called her name by people who don’t know!

Daniela Vincenti // Posted 14 September 2009 at 2:18 pm

Dear Holly,

Sorry for joining the blog so late. I think there has been a very good discussion and have enjoyed reading good chunks of it.

It is still common for women to change their names when they marry. Quite a few actually look forward to changing it! Some women just have a more traditional view of romance and prefer to take a more submissive role in the mating ritual. They tend to prefer, for example, for their boyfriend to pay for the meal out and are often happier when it is their partner who initiates sex as their sense of femminility includes an eagerness to feel desired.

I think it is important for the femminist movement not to ostracize such women. After all, making a romanitc gesture is not the equivalent of becoming a doormat. Of course, many will point out that men never change their name, so why is it always women that have to make this choice? I guess the answer is that a more traditionally romantic man would take a more protective attitude including chivalrous gestures and asking for her hand on his knees. Changing his name after marriage would probably be incongruous with his idea of romance.

Personally I opted to keep my name after marriage and my husband was perfectly happy with my decision. I had simply got used to my surname and it would have been too much of an identity shock. We opted to give our children a double barrel surname and the Spanish system is definitely the best if you are looking for a purely egalitarian choice.

So girls just go with your instincts and best of luck. And most importantly, don’t let anyone guilt trip you whatever decision you take.

Mark // Posted 14 September 2009 at 8:39 pm

CMK said:

Am I the only one to think that this is a ‘nice’ practice? Two people love each other, make a commitment to one another and share the same name as a public statement that they are a couple. I always thought it was rather sweet.

CMK – If as many men adopted their wives’ name as women adopt their husbands’ I might have agreed with your idea that adopting a single name was “sweet”.

Unfortunately, there is little equity in this practice and the vehemence that some men exhibit at the idea that their wife might NOT use their surname (let alone the men adopt the woman’s) suggest that it is a power trip for many men.

Lara // Posted 15 September 2009 at 10:22 am

I will only take my husband’s surname if it is ‘O’Hara’

Holly Combe // Posted 15 September 2009 at 1:27 pm

Hi Daniela,

I agree it’s important not to ostracise women for their choices and, for me, that’s why I think discussing this issue with other women can sometimes be so fraught. By highlighting name change as an issue I won’t ever bend on, I am implying that I am critical of the practice and I’m often self-conscious about how this could cause tension with other women. I also think each individual’s right to identify in whatever way that s/he sees fit will always outweigh whatever anyone else’s opinion might be.

However, I’d also say my intention to always keep my name, regardless of whatever happens in the future, and your successful retention of your own after marriage are still not typical examples. I’d like to be wrong but it does seem keeping your name, as a woman, is still a minority position. In my opinion, this means we are far from having to remind each other not to look down on those who take a different view because, if anything, we are still far more likely to be looked down on by conventional society than they are. I don’t know what your own personal experiences have been but it seems to me, in my experience, that we’re the ones who are more likely to end up having to justify ourselves in social situations.

As you say, there are indeed women for whom the traditional option is genuinely the most desirable. However, there are also surely plenty of other women who would have liked to reject tradition but have ended up having that choice constrained and opting for the traditional way because it was just too much hassle having to constantly challenge people about it and fight that particular fight. I appreciate why that happens because I don’t fight every feminist fight that I would ideally like to either. But this is an issue I will never budge on and I think it’s important that the principle of not denigrating other women’s choices doesn’t end up drowning out our own as equally valid.

Wisrutta Atthakor // Posted 15 September 2009 at 1:52 pm

As Holly said, we are very much in the minority, as the following study shows:

http://www.ined.fr/fichier/t_telechargement/15823/telechargement_fichier_en_pesa367.20.pdf

OK, the study was published in 2001 and the figures used are from a survey done in 1995, but I can’t imagine it has dramatically turned round since then. And when people say stuff like “Does anyone change their name anymore?” the answer is “Yes, more people than you probably think”. Of all my friends and family who have got married in the last 5 years (and there are quite a few of us – I went to 6 weddings last year along and 3 this year) only 2 of the women (including me) have kept their birth names. The rest have all taken their husband’s lastname, with a few (although I’m not sure how many) using their birth names professionally only. None of the men changed their names in any way.

Anna // Posted 15 September 2009 at 2:02 pm

my ex-boyfriend was perfectly happy for me to keep my own name, this was good. my new boyfriend, however, gets very upset at the idea I will keep my own name when we get married; ‘but it’s tradition’ ‘you don’t have to be a ridiculous feminist all the time’.. I don’t think it’s going to last. if you expect me to change my name (which is my mother’s name, not my fathers) and your only justification is ‘BUT IT’S TRADITION’.. bah. grump.

Lizzy-Lou // Posted 15 September 2009 at 7:25 pm

Lara – Lol!!

Daniela Vincenti // Posted 16 September 2009 at 1:44 am

Dear Holly,

Thanks for taking the time to post such a well-thought-out reply. I got married fifteen years ago back when I still lived in Italy. I did not get much stick for keeping my surname since despite the lazy stereotypes of Italy being a sexist country it is actually quite common for women to retain it. Changing surname is probably more popular in the UK and it is a shame if women end up feeling obliged to change it when they do not want to.

I applaud your decision not to budge on the issue and I would also encourage you to fight for every feminist principle that you truly believe in. Don’t just go with the flow as it will keep gnawing at you.

My comment regarding ostracizing more “traditional” women was not meant at you personally. I was rather disappointed at the newspaper articles singling out Rebekah Wade for criticism after she changed her surname. Some feminist columnists gave the impression that she was letting the side down, and this kind of attitude ends up giving feminism a bad name.

Lizzy-Lou // Posted 28 September 2009 at 8:32 pm

Wisrutta – it so reassures me that I’m not the only one… ! ;-)

cycleboy // Posted 1 October 2009 at 8:32 pm

Can someone please explain?

This afternoon a colleague excitedly announced that she’d changed her name by Deed Poll to Mrs Hisname. Lots of squeals of delight from some of the women present and congratulations proffered. A French colleague (who hasn’t changed her name) asked something about marriage and Mrs Hisname made some comment to the effect that she didn’t want to get married.

Now I really am confused. I once worked with someone who said he and his partner of 25 years were not married, but she used his surname to stop tongues wagging. Given that this was 1974 and they’d have moved in together in 1959, I can at least understand the logic of that. But, Mrs Hisname has been openly living with her boyfriend for, I would guess, quite a while. Presumably, as all her friends and family have become used to this (personal approval notwithstanding) she’s obviously not worried about wagging tongues.

The ONLY cause for her to take such action that I can think of is that they must be planning to start a family and she wants them all to have the same name – though not hers, of course.

Even if this be the case, I still find it a bit puzzling that someone who has rejected the baggage or presumptions that go with marriage should be so worried about the family’s surnames. I mean, in Iceland, even with a married couple, it’s very common to have 4 different surnames. The Spanish don’t worry either. If you’re kicking against the concept of marriage, why on earth would your surname be of such concern?

Holly Combe // Posted 2 October 2009 at 12:59 pm

Hi Mark. Not sure I’d be able to explain that because I don’t really get it either!

I guess it might partly come down to the idea that sharing the same name is seen as romantic and, as in marriage, the understood default for such a move is for the woman to make the change. Or maybe it’s the children-factor you mention (which, personally, I would agree is a tradition that needs as much challenge as the whole Mrs Hisname one).

Each to their own though and I don’t think anyone else is really going to be able to accurately explain another person’s choice.

Jessie // Posted 2 October 2009 at 1:52 pm

I think the thing is – it should be a totally personal choice.

My mother (someone who would totally identify as a feminist) kept her name after marrying my father, but then changed it after her second child was born. For her it was about joining the ‘family’ and having the same name as her children, husband, in-laws (who she is closer to than her own parents).

For me, I don’t think I want to get married, but if I did I think it’s nice that you have the same name afterwards- a symbol that you’ve joined.

I think the problem is the vast majority of men (and women) would never consider the man taking the womans name. But they should, in an ideal world, you would take the name you most identify with/is the ‘best’ name.

cycleboy // Posted 3 October 2009 at 9:05 pm

As we’re on the subject, I just happened to glance at an academic paper I have on file.

Written by Claudia Goldin; Henry Lee Professor of Economics, Harvard University, entitled ‘Making a Name: Women’s Surnames at Marriage and Beyond’. In it she wrote the following:

‘among the Harvard class of 1980 … just 10 percent reverted to their husband’s names’

In my dictionary, the word ‘revert’ means to return to an original state, which rather suggests that a married woman who uses her birth name should really be called Mrs Hisname, but has changed it for her own selfish reasons, as opposed to never having changed it in the first place.

Holly Combe // Posted 4 October 2009 at 9:48 am

Yes, it does rather imply that. Hopefully, that language would get challenged now. But, then again, I’m quite surprised it didn’t in 1980!

Kath // Posted 4 October 2009 at 2:48 pm

@cycleboy – reminds me of what my mother told me about the revenue office’s reply to her in the late 70’s when she explained to them she had kept her own name when she married: “so you’re really Mrs Hisname but you call yourself Ms Hername?”

cycleboy // Posted 5 October 2009 at 9:33 pm

Holly:

The paper I quoted was published in a journal in 2004!

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