Women's Issues

You Can Take Your Husband’s Last Name And Still Be A Feminist

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mr & mrsCouples planning a wedding have so many choices to make– who to invite, where to have the reception, what flavor cake to get (hint- it’s chocolate with buttercream frosting, naturally).

One aspect of the wedding used to be simple– the bride took the groom’s last name, end of story. Some couples are starting to push back against this tradition, citing feminism and equality, but taking your husband’s last name doesn’t automatically make you anti-feminist.

I was checking out the Huffpost Weddings page, when I found a piece by blogger Brita Long called My Husband Didn’t Take My Last Name. Long’s piece takes some of the most common arguments man-splainers take as to why women should change their last names, and writes them from a woman’s point of view just to point out how ridiculous this line of reasoning is. From Huffpost Weddings:

When Dan told me he didn’t plan on taking my last name, I felt like less of a woman. My femininity is completely wrapped up in his last name. When we’re out with friends and family, and someone calls him Mr. Long, he corrects them, and I feel embarrassed. Do they think he wears the skirt in our marriage because he didn’t take my last name?

I know Dan loves me, but sometimes I worry he’s not committed to our marriage. Since he didn’t change his name when we got married, it will be easier for him to resume his bachelor status if he decided to divorce me.

Fantastic, right? Ms. Long, on the off chance that you read this and are accepting friendship applications, please let me know.

While I think that Long makes a fantastic point, I don’t believe you’re surrendering your feminist card at the Social Security office along with the name change form when you take your husband’s last name. If wanting to participate in the tradition of taking your husband’s last name doesn’t violate your personal definition of what a feminist is, then you shouldn’t give the opinion of other feminists any weight in your decision.

I chose to take my husband’s last name for a number of reasons. I don’t have a relationship with my father’s side of the family, and my mother changed her last name when she remarried, so I didn’t have any emotional attachment to my maiden name. My maiden name was difficult to spell and hard to pronounce and often prompted questions regarding my heritage that made me uncomfortable because I don’t know where the name comes from. Also, I won the last name lottery with my then fiance– Megan Zander just had a nice ring to it.

I have friends who’ve kept their last names because they had already established reputations in their chosen careers by the time they got married and didn’t want to order new business cards to have to re-introduce themselves to contacts. I’ve known couples who both take new names– husbands who take their wife’s maiden names as a middle name or make some hyphenated hybrid of both last names (Fun facts: Beyonce and Jay-Z hyphenated, while John Lennon and Yoko Ono took each other’s last names).

Feminism means different things to different people. Being a feminist is about your actions, not about your name. For some, that might include keeping your maiden name, but loving when your husband holds the door open for you. For me, I insist on changing my own flat tires, but please, call me Mrs. Zander.

(image: Sunny_baby/shutterstock.com)