Why does the tradition for a woman to change her name after marriage still persist? I briefly contributed to a discussion on this issue with Luke Ashmead on BBC Three Counties radio last week and, on listening again, was heartened to find large portions of the last half hour of the show (02.02.25 – 02.58.00) devoted to the topic, with Luke continuing to take the stance that the convention is actually dated and pointless. He also railed against the double-standard that is often revealed whenever it’s suggested that a man could take a woman’s name:
“A lot of men listening to this programme will probably be shaking their heads in disbelief that a man would kind of just give up his identity… I don’t know why men would do that because that, in effect, is what men ask women to do all the time and I think it’s outrageous.”
Here are a few other interesting quotes from the show:
“I’d been my maiden name until the age of 27 and I woke up on the morning of my wedding… and cried my heart out. I said ‘I don’t feel as if I’m anybody now. I’m not yet Mrs and I’ve lost being Miss. I don’t feel as if I have an identity’… I hated it… It took me a long time to get over it.” (Judy from Leagrave)
“Oh listen to that! My name! My name! Why is it so important for them to take your name? Why don’t you take their name? I’m Victoria Cook and if somebody told me they wouldn’t marry me unless I took their surname, they could sling their hook!” (member of the show’s team, Victoria Cook, responding to hearing another caller emphasising the importance of his wife taking his name)
“What strikes and irritates me is the men you’ve had phoning in saying ‘well, if they want to keep their name because they’re famous or a celebrity or a business woman… I suppose that’s alright…’ But why is it alright? If I want to keep my name, I don’t need to have an excuse to keep my name. I can just keep it” (Penny Lukats)
“Why the hell, just because a woman falls in love with you… Just because a woman wants to get married to you… Why the hell should she have to give up her identity and take on yours?” (Luke Ashmead to caller, Matthew, who said it was very important for his wife and children to take his name)
You can still access the feature until 2pm tomorrow.
Photo by Cedarjunction, shared under a Creative Commons Licence.