Taking Your Husband's Last Name Perpetuates Patriarchal Ideals
Start writing a post

Taking Your Husband's Last Name Perpetuates Patriarchal Ideals

It's time to leave some social practices in the past. Women are not considered male property in America, and our structural traditions should reflect that.

Taking Your Husband's Last Name Perpetuates Patriarchal Ideals

Just because something is tradition, does not mean it is the most effective solution.

For the majority of marriages around the world, it is considered customary for a wife to relinquish her maiden name, and take on the last name of her husband. For many of us, we take this for granted without a second thought. It's what we do, right? People do hyphenate their names after marriage after all, but very few men actually decide to take their bride's last name. "A man taking his wife's name — remains incredibly rare: In a recent study of 877 heterosexual married men, fewer than 3% took their wife's name when they got married."

It's thought the tradition of masculine name inheritance is biblical, although this isn't a fully supported theory:

"The tradition of a wife taking her husband's last name at marriage is not found in the Bible. In Bible times, most people did not even have last names. Women were often identified by where they lived (e.g., Mary Magdalene, Luke 8:2), by their children (e.g., Mary the mother of James and Joseph, Matthew 27:56), or by their husband (e.g., Mary the wife of Clopas, John 19:25)."

The important thing to notice here is that although it was not standard for a wife to become Mrs.Jesus instead of Mary Magdelene. It was still customary to refer to a woman in terms of her relationship with a man (either her Father or Husband). She was not considered an independent being, and the semantics of her name reflects that.

This doesn't sit well with me.

Let's take a moment to question this tradition.

All traditions should be scrutinized and questioned or else they become obsolete in the ever-changing socio-cultural tide.

Why is it male names are only passed on? Essentially, the verbal female line is obliterated in favor of unity under a male surname. This makes sense in a way: a singular family name helps bring everyone together as a unit. The use of the male name over the female name represents male ownership over both women and the family. It unbalanced gender roles in their very structure.

"the matter of a wife taking a husband's surname didn't surface in English common law until the ninth century, when lawmakers began to consider the legalities surrounding personhood, families, and marriage. Thusly (as they would say), the doctrine of coverture emerged – and women were thereafter considered "one" with their husbands and therefore required to assume the husband's surname as their own.
Under the concept of coverture, which literally means "covered by," women had no independent legal identity apart from their spouse. Actually, this "coverage" began upon the birth of a female baby – who was given her father's surname – and could only change upon the marriage of that female, at which point her name was automatically changed to that of her new husband." --Stephanie Reid Law

My mother always told me she never changed our names back to her maiden name after the divorce because she wanted to purport us as a family. In my opinion, a family with an absent father has no obligation to keep his name, as it had no obligation to receive it in the first place.

It may not seem like much as it is just technicalities, but technicalities govern the structure in which we present and define ourselves.

I do not wish to be defined by a patriarchal tradition even if it is as simple in a name. Think about it. A name is not as simple as it seems. A name becomes an identity. A name shapes our understanding of ourselves; if the tradition of male names being passed down continues every family will unwittingly submit to the standards of the patriarchy.

This being said, there is nothing inherently wrong with taking your spouse's name if that feels right to you and has been discussed freely between partners. Sometimes, your partner's last name may be the coolest name in the book and works perfectly syntactically. Sometimes, you may love your partner to death but his last name is Curtle, Assinger, or — god forbid — Smith. Today, we have a choice to keep our names, and as women, we should consider it instead of blindly accepting a name in the name of tradition.

There is a power and a peace that comes from sharing a name, sharing a goal. There are also restrictions and depersonalizing undertones to the tradition as well. Where does the "single woman's" identity go once they are bound to another? The single male identity doesn't change as their name remains untouched by the union.

Why not take your bride's last name? Would it feel emasculating because everybody else is doing the opposite? Why don't more couples hyphenate their names? Are we content with tradition even if it's based on the debasement and slavery of an entire gender?

"'Tis but thy name that is my enemy; Thou art thyself though, not a Montague. What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part Belonging to a man. O! be some other name: What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet; So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd, Retain that dear perfection which he owes. Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name; And for that name, which is no part of thee, Take all myself." — "Romeo And Juliet," Shakespeare.

Unifying under one name as a family is a type of empowerment, but it also requires the sacrifice of one name. Typically the female name. This being said, keeping or taking back our names is another, higher, form of empowerment.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

13 Ways Barbie Movies Shaped My Childhood

My childhood would not have been the same without them.

Taylor Hawk

Barbie movies were a huge part of my childhood. I mean huge. If you are like me, I welcome you to take a healthy dose of nostalgia as I explain how Barbie movies shaped my childhood. The movies...

Keep Reading... Show less

Pride Doesn't End With June

Here's seven ways you can be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community after pride month ends.

Pride Doesn't End With June
Photo by Sara Rampazzo on Unsplash

As July begins, the month we call 'Pride Month' is technically over. However, just because pride month is over doesn't mean we can't still show pride and support for our LGBT brothers and sisters. This article here will tell you seven ways to be a supportive ally to the LGBTQ+ all year round.

Keep Reading... Show less

My 4th Of July Look

MISS SWISS - Glamour On The Go

My 4th Of July Look

Whether I can get to the beach this weekend or I'm just at a friend's pool, I know I'll be picture ready. Fourth of July weekend following so close behind Pennsylvania lifting the state mask mandate has me anticipating many smiling faces, eager to capture the moment.

Keep Reading... Show less

Eat and Drink Your Way Through Los Angeles With Me

When i die spread my ashes at the Bubba Gump at Citywalk

Eat and Drink Your Way Through Los Angeles With Me
Hailey Hastings via Canva

First and foremost, I am a foodie. In any city that I am in, the first thing I want to know is where the best places to eat and drink are, and I imagine a lot of you are the same. Los Angeles happens to be one of the greatest food cities in the United States, so it's only right that I present you guys with this list. These are the best places (that I have tried) in Los Angeles to eat or drink.

Keep Reading... Show less

Your Guide to Dryness-Preventing Nutrition

You might be surprised to learn that nearly half of women over the age of 50 struggle with uncomfortable symptoms due to vaginal dryness. This is an extremely common issue for those entering menopause, but it can also affect those of a younger age as well.

Dryness-Preventing Nutrition

You might be surprised to learn that nearly half of women over the age of 50 struggle with uncomfortable symptoms due to vaginal dryness. This is an extremely common issue for those entering menopause, but it can also affect those of a younger age as well. Common issues like UTI’s, yeast infections and medications can cause vaginal dryness but one of the big culprits for both cause and prevention is diet. Supplementing your diet with nutrients and vitamins to encourage your body to produce the hormones it needs are one of the many home remedies for dryness. There are many factors that can cause dryness and the uncomfortable symptoms that come along with it, and diet is one of the big culprits on the list. Keep reading to learn about adopting nutrition habits that both alleviate and prevent dryness!

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments