Monthly Archives: December 2010

changing surnames

Every time one of my facebook friends acquires a different surname upon marriage a little piece of me dies. Yes, it’s a ‘choice’, but it’s the wrong choice. It has to be one the most explicitly sexist customs remaining in Australia. It makes me so sad that women do it.

My sister is getting married next year and a couple of months ago I nervously asked her if she was going to keep her surname. Thankfully, she said she probably would. Her reasoning was a combination of not really understanding the point of it (yay for logic!) and not liking her fiancé’s surname.

I like the first reason, but I think the second one is irrelevant. Not liking your partner’s surname is often referred to by women who choose to retain their surname after marriage. Perhaps it’s one way that women can placate people who show concern over them not taking their husband’s name. Saying ‘oh, I don’t really like the sound of it’ is far less provocative than ‘I don’t want to’ or ‘I don’t understand the point of it’, or ‘It’s a sexist tradition’. To many, flouting that tradition is ‘radical’ and obviously has feminist undertones. Some women may want to avoid getting into a feminist debate, and explain their choice to retain their name in terms less provocative. This is understandable, but I wish it wasn’t so! I say, bring it on. If retaining your name is provocative to some, then bring on the feminist debate.

Another common reason women give is for ‘professional purposes’. A friend asked me once if that was why I kept my name. I said no, I kept my name because I believe a woman changing her name upon marriage is an appalling and outdate sexist tradition. I wish women didn’t need to ‘explain’ their choice to retain their surname. When I got married, my mum said ‘good on you’ with a wistful glint in her eye; my dad said, ‘oh, you’re one of these new age women’ and laughed.