I never liked my last name while growing up. So it was super-excellent when I fell in love with a guy who happened to have a cool last name. I’d always assumed I’d take my husband’s last name anyway. It’s just how it’s always been done, right?
When I think about it, it seems pretty sexist to continue a tradition rooted in man’s ownership of woman. And yet, as The Guardian notes, roughly 90% of women still change their names when they get married. Not only that, but ten percent of the American public still thinks that keeping your name means you aren’t dedicated to your marriage. And, get this, half of all Americans think you should be legally required to take your husband’s name.
Why isn’t it something each couple discusses before marriage: Are we having children? Who will stay at home with them when we do? Are we keeping our names or do we like yours or mine better?
Most recently, actress Zoe Saldana is making headlines because Italian artist Marco Perego took her name.
“I tried to talk him out of it. I told him, ‘If you use my name, you’re going to be emasculated by your community of artists, by your Latin community of men, by the world,'” the star told InStyle. “But Marco looks up at me and says [she puts on a cute Italian accent], ‘Ah, Zoe, I don’t give a sheet.’”
Saldana wrote a post to her Facebook fans responding to the publicity surrounding her husband’s name change:
Fathers, sons, brothers, men everywhere: Your legacy will not perish if you take your partner’s surname, or she keeps hers. I’ve been made aware that a comment I made regarding my marriage has garnered some attention. I felt proud that my husband decided to take my last name as his own… and I his. I shared my hesitation with him when he told me about his decision, not only did he say, “I don’t give a shhheeeetttt!!” (with a very strong Italian accent!!) he also asked me, “Why not? What are you so afraid of?” And it made me wonder… What am I so afraid of?
Why is it so surprising, shocking — eventful that a man would take his wife’s surname? Women have never been asked if its ok for them to give up their names — why doesn’t that make the news?
Men, you will not cease to exist by taking your partner’s surname. On the contrary — you’ll be remembered as a man who stood by change. I know our sons will respect and admire their father more because their father lead by example.
Gentlemen, I implore you to think outside the box — remove the box altogether. Let’s redefine masculinity. A real “man” leads along side his partner. A real man accepts his mortality. A real man acknowledges that nothing can be done alone.
I hope that the “buzz” behind this topic isn’t just for gossip — but an inspiration for us all to look within and see what is truly important.
Let’s start by letting go of some of the limitations we have inherited from the past, and forge a new path moving forward.
Right on, Zoe! I hope more strong, secure men choose to follow Marco’s bold lead.
As one commenter on Huffington Post noted, “A couple should take the name that would best further the family’s position, regardless of male or female.” Good point. Saldana is an actress, her name is a commodity so while it is a modern male move, it also makes perfect sense to take on that name.
And in their case it isn’t just about taking a wife’s name. When you have kids — the couple has twin boys — you’re identifying as a family unit. He’s taking the family name.
It’s a move similar move to my choice to keep my married name even though I’m now divorced so that I have the same name as my children, something far more important to me than my maiden name. Point is, it’s a personal decision. Others may disagree and feel that carrying on their name is the most important thing to consider because it’s your lineage, your ancestry, your history, your story. But you are the architect of your story and your name is up to you.
What do you think? Would you want your husband to take your last name? Would you take your wife’s last name? Why or why not?More On