That’s Mrs Westworth, thank you!

May 18, 2013
Feminism, In the News, My Advice, Pissed Off, Random Thoughts

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I have been described as a militant feminist a couple of times, including by my boyfriend (though in the nicest possible way, of course). If shouting at people for making g0-back-to-the-kitchen jokes or getting rage when I hear about a new case of victim-blaming in the case of male-on-female rape makes me a militant feminist, then I am fine with this! I don’t think women get angry enough about these sorts of topics and in many cases, are worse than men at perpetuating a lot of these myths about where a woman’s place is.

One issue that I feel strongly about is women taking her husbands surname after marriage. It just feels so wrong to me, I can’t think of how it benefits the woman at all and it’s just another outdated remnant of a time where women lost their identity as soon as they were married. It bothers me so much when I hear of friends who take on their husbands name, though none of my close friends have married yet so I’ve never discussed it with them or asked them why they decided to change their name. I find it old fashioned, unnecessary and totally sexist. But when I tell people this, they think I’m being ridiculous. It’s the done thing, it’d be so confusing not to have a shared family name, it’s no big deal etc. I’m also reminded that it’s a woman’s choice and isn’t that what feminism is about anyway? Letting women make their own choices?

I call BS on all of that. It’s a massive deal to go through the process of changing your surname. It’s not like you just wave your marriage certificate at a few utilities companies and be done with it, there’s expense involved and you have to go through a lot of legal rigmarole before contacting each company necessary to make the change. Then there’s the fact you now have a whole new name! You have to change your signature and make sure you remember to give your new name instead of your old one. And if it’s “not a big deal” then why don’t more men take on their wives names? I appreciate that a part of feminism is respecting a woman’s choice, but I’m of the opinion that most women don’t take their husbands names because they really want to , they just do it because it’s expected. Fuck that! If you have a terrible surname, I can absolutely understand you wanting to take your new husbands name to get rid of it (though if it’s so bad, I would have suggested changing it to something you actually want, not just taking on whatever boring surname your boyfriend-cum-husband happens to have). But when you marry a Smith or Cockburn, please don’t tell me you actually wanted his surname because gurl, I ain’t buyin’!

I just wish women were more open to the possibility of keeping their name, because I feel it’s a massive part of who you are, and to give it away just because it’s the “norm” seems silly to me. Why not explore other options? Why can’t your hubby take on your surname? Why not, if you can, merge both your surnames and both take it on? Sure you still have to go through all of the stress of changing your name, but at least you’re doing it together! I’m also not opposed to the idea of hyphenating names (I mostly enjoy how long and obnoxious they can be). There are other options and you, as a new wife, have every right to explore them and do what makes you happy. If taking on his surname is something you genuinely want, then good for you. But please do it because it’s what you want, not because you feel you have to, OK?

I understand I may be too much of a hardarse on this matter, but I feel really damn passionate about it. I have no intention of changing my surname after I get married (I mean, Westworth is a pretty neat and unusual name, I’d never want to lose it) and my kids will either take on my name or both parents names. I’ll be damned if I’m popping children out, only for their dad to get all the freaking credit! If my husband loves me, then he’ll understand. If he refuses, then I’ll kick his arse til he does or else not marry him!

What are your thoughts? If you’re married, did you take your partners name? What were your reasons for (not) doing so? 

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  • Beck

    Amen girl! Seriously, so much stuff you write I agree with, I feel like we share the same brain! I’m keeping my surname, because Roy is fierce. Perhaps if I have kids, I may double-barrel however, as my surname is short and so is my partners, it won’t be quite as long and obnoxious as I would like!

  • Kindred spirits! It warms my heart knowing it’s not just me being a shouty pain-in-the-butt feminist, and that other women share the same sentiments :D