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Old 01-29-2002, 09:12 AM   #1
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What's in a name??

I'm curious to know people's thoughts/opinions on the subject of women changing their last name when they get married...Or not...Or hyphenating...Or what?

I was brought up in a very traditional home and belief system and it never occurred to me that when/if I ever married I would do anything but change my name to reflect my husband's. But now I'm not so sure. Although I can see why having the same last name is convenient, I don't know if I like the connotations of hierarchy and ownership that are unspoken. I am me, and I will continue to be ME no matter what. Why is it necessary to renounce part of my identity just because I happen to be a woman and for the man in the relationship not to do the same? I'm thinking out loud here and I don't mean to offend any women who have chosen to change their names, but I guess I'm just wondering about alternatives.

I like the Icelandic system of everyone having a unique last name based on their parents name. Ie. if my mother's name was Jane, my last name would be Janesdottir and if my father's name was John, my brother's last name would be Johnson.

Anyways, curious to know your thoughts...


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Old 01-29-2002, 09:19 AM   #2
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I work with two men who have taken their spouses' names (hyphenated).

For example, the wife is Mary Johnson and he is Mike Smith, after marrying he is now Mike Johnson-Smith.

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Old 01-29-2002, 09:35 AM   #3
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Originally posted by zonelistener:
I work with two men who have taken their spouses' names (hyphenated).

For example, the wife is Mary Johnson and he is Mike Smith, after marrying he is now Mike Johnson-Smith.
That's exactly what I think I would prefer for myself. Both spouses changing their names and sharing a common one.
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Old 01-29-2002, 10:56 AM   #4
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Hyphenating the surnames is a great idea, only thing is it's a bit cumbersome. Also, you wouldn't want to hyphenate if your surnames were, oh I don't know, 'Frank' and 'Einstein'. I for one wouldn't mind taking up my husband's surname, I think I'd like the idea of being identified as such. Nothing to do with male chauvinistic ownership or anything.

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Old 01-29-2002, 11:25 AM   #5
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Well, if I ever were in that situation we call "marriage," I wouldn't demand that my wife change her last name. It would most certainly be up to her, but I can guarantee I'd never change mine--hyphenation or whatever.


"He had lived through an age when men and women with energy and ruthlessness but without much ability or persistence excelled. And even though most of them had gone under, their ignorance had confused Roy, making him wonder whether the things he had striven to learn, and thought of as 'culture,' were irrelevant. Everything was supposed to be the same: commercials, Beethoven's late quartets, pop records, shopfronts, Freud, multi-coloured hair. Greatness, comparison, value, depth: gone, gone, gone. Anything could give some pleasure; he saw that. But not everything provided the sustenance of a deeper understanding." - Hanif Kureishi, Love in a Blue Time
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Old 01-29-2002, 11:31 AM   #6
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Oh God, DO NOT get me started on amusing combinations of names!!!!
Jay Leno does that every monday night - pulls out clippings of newspaper announcements of the wedding of a couple of people with odd names. Its hysterical.

Seriously, I think I would change my name to reflect my husbands if i were to get married. Provided he has a nice name of course! I dont feel its sexist at all.

Then again, i like the fact that i have an Irish last name, and if he's a different ethnicity...hmm. Oh well, maybe i'll just have to marry an Irish fella!

Look...look what you've done to me...You've made me poor and infamous, and I thank you...

My name is MISS MACPHISTO...I'm tired and i want to go HOME...

"Well you tell...Bonovista,that i said hello and that my codename is Belleview" - Bono before opening night of Anaheim Elevation concert

Well tonight thank God it's them, instead of you...

[This message has been edited by Miss MacPhisto (edited 01-29-2002).]
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Old 01-29-2002, 11:44 AM   #7
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Well, I'm actually looking forward to changing my name when I get married because I hate my last name!! (Sorry Dad!!)

My fiance thought that I wasn't going to change my name and he was almost exasperated!

He's not a chauvinist or anything, he just felt that me taking his last name would make him proud because I would be his wife completely? Maybe that is a chavinistic attitude but it makes me feel kinda giddy inside

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Old 01-29-2002, 12:10 PM   #8
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I probably would not change my name if I married unless I really loved my husband's name. Not planning on marriage, though.
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Old 01-29-2002, 01:35 PM   #9
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If I ever get married, I'll probably most likely take my husband's name. I see no problem with that at all.
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Old 01-29-2002, 04:23 PM   #10
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When I proposed to my girlfriend, it was agreed that I should take her name once we were married. It suited us fine, my surname is bloody awful.

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Old 01-29-2002, 05:58 PM   #11
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i wouldn't mind at all...all these stupid people mispronounce it anyway, which is dumb, it's like saying "smith" wrong...

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Old 01-29-2002, 06:11 PM   #12
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Originally posted by zonelistener:
I work with two men who have taken their spouses' names (hyphenated).

For example, the wife is Mary Johnson and he is Mike Smith, after marrying he is now Mike Johnson-Smith.
Here's my problem with hypenating names - at least, doing so en masse.

Let's say the Johnson-Smith's have a child. For the sake of this example, let's say they have a daughter and name her Katie Johnson-Smith.

Let's suppose then, that the tradition of hypenating is very widespread, to the point that Katie falls in love with and marries a boy whose parents also hypenated their names, someone like Michael Jones-O'Brien.

Would she then become Katie Johnson-Smith-Jones-O'Brien?

And what if her children did the same thing, and so on? The result could be this: The Johnson-Smith's great grandchild could be christened James Johnson-Smith-Jones-O'Brien-Peterson-Whitaker-Jackson-McGuire.

And that's BEFORE James gets married and decides to further hyphenate his name.

Granted, this would be a great way to remember one's family tree, but there's a minor problem and a huge problem: the minor problem is that you could no longer use your mother's maiden name as a way to identify yourself to the bank, etc, since the name is part of your own name. The MAJOR problem is that a hyphenated name doubles with each marriage, reaching a length of 32 names after only 5 generations.

Simply, I don't think hyphenating is a good idea in the large scale. There should be exceptions, of course. Beyond the examples of really odd names (Donna Lee Donnelly, etc.), there's also the case where people's careers are based on name recognition - entertainment, for instance.

But if the majority started hyphenating their names, silliness would ensue.

So, the solution? One could combine the last names, but that doesn't seem to work: there's no good way to combine "Johnson" and "Smith." (Jith? Johnsith? Sminson?) And even if there was a good combination for this specific pair, there would be no general rule one could follow for all name pairs.

One could leave it up to the couple themselves to decide which single name to adopt, but that could lead to just as much strife, particularly if both really want to keep their name. Further, it would make geneology a bit more difficult than what really seems necessary.

Or, society could simply adopt ONE convention, that the husband takes the wife's name or vice versa. Either way, one gender might take offense, but if the culture is one of equal sexes, such a detail wouldn't matter. And if there is other instances of inequality in society, THOSE should be the focus of improvement rather than this minor detail.

Bottom line: there are exceptions, but hyphenating is not a good idea to apply to the majority of a culture. However flawed as our current system is or appears to be, it seems like any "solution" is certainly much more problematic.

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Old 01-29-2002, 08:37 PM   #13
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I like my last name, its Italian and I dont want to lose it. And if I dont marry an Italian I would not feel comfortable changing my name. I guess that's selfish but I would choose to hyphenate.

[This message has been edited by Sicy (edited 01-29-2002).]
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Old 01-29-2002, 08:54 PM   #14
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Originally posted by martha:
Remember, your last name now most likely reflects your father's family, and so on, all the way back.
Martha is thinking the same thing I was thinking; how far back do you go to take the matrilineal name? Is it wrong now for you to carry your father's name instead of your mother's name, and then her father's name instead of her mother's name, etc?

But whatever floates your boat.

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Old 01-30-2002, 02:05 AM   #15
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I took my husband's name when we got married twelve years ago. It wasn't because he wanted me to, or because I liked the name (it's very cumbersome and hard for people to pronounce). I think it's a nice tradition, if it's what the couple wants to do. I don't see it as a patriarchal thing, or even a sign of ownership, although that's how it started. Hyphenated names are a pain, especially for the kids when they start school; they WILL be called by whatever name is last in the hyphenated name.

Sula, don't think about it too much. Marry the right man, and you will NEVER have to worry about renouncing your wonderful identity, no matter if you change your name or not. Remember, your last name now most likely reflects your father's family, and so on, all the way back.

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