This past week I overhead a group of women who were discussing why a certain other woman was changing her last name when she entered marriage with her husband. And it wasn’t a complimentary conversation, but one which accused the newly minted bride of being “a bad feminist”. I don’t know the woman they were speaking of, but I am for one, sick and tired of this divisive debate.
Any name we claim as our “last name” is from a patriarchal line whether its a partner’s or a father’s To me it didn’t matter what name I took, so I was comfortable with taking my husband’s last name. Both of our last names are impossible to spell correctly or even pronounce correctly anyway, if you aren’t German or Alsatian French. And while I feel more connected to my Mother’s and my Nana’s, lineage, their last names before marriage were from their father’s as well. Really, its a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing, and a waste of debate.
That afternoon, on a midday walk, I saw a young woman who looked visibly unhappy and a few others who looked stressed. The young women of today face so many challenges–economic, social and political. Some of these are issues we thought we had laid to rest decades ago, but are once again raising their ugly heads. My feeling is that as true feminists we should be concerned far more about fighting for their economic equality, their rights to make decisions on their own bodies and their political voice, than debating whether they take their husband’s last name.
We need to work to give them the empowerment to make their own choices, even about their last names.