It’s Time to Rethink Taking a Man’s Last Name

Rebeca Ansar
Apr 24 · 3 min read
Image Licensed from Adobe Stock

To avoid burying the lead, I’ll start my essay with this: I neither understand the logic behind nor support the practice of taking a man’s last name when two heterosexual people get married.

Of course, there are outlier exceptions. Like, if you have a really hideous or weird last name that you’re looking to get rid of. Maybe your husband just has a super cool last name that turns your whole name into an alliteration or some other glorious piece of figurative language.

How do you think the majority of American men would react if we instituted a new system within the construct of marriage in which a man gives up his last name and takes his wife’s?

What happens is that girls are taught to look forward to our weddings. We are conditioned to believe our heterosexual marriage will be the single most important day of our lives. We strive to find a man, to keep him, and then feel hashtag Blessed when he gets down on one knee and proposes.

I could go into how this whole framework is pretty far removed from the actual significant features of a thriving relationship, but I’ll save that for a later time.

I have often questioned why it’s so normalized for a woman to change her name when she marries a man.

This is, of course, not a trait of every culture. Cue the gasps that some non-Western cultures have feminist traits that our civilized society is lacking.

And don’t tell me to go and live in that culture or that country or whatever lazy variation of this comes to your mind. I am invested in this culture. That’s why I make time to advocate for progress.

I didn’t grow up around women who took their husbands’ last names. I never saw the point of it.

But, I saw a lot of points against it.

How do you think the majority of American men would react if we instituted a new system within the construct of marriage in which a man gives up his last name and takes his wife’s?

Do you think a lot of men would be happily on board with this?

If you do think the majority of men would happily reverse roles in this regard, I have couple of initials thoughts. First, you need to experience more of America because it sounds like you live in a pretty interesting bubble. Second, I think you’re being intellectually disingenuous. This is the same culture in which women don’t even have full human rights to our own bodies.

Now let’s talk about those of us who can predict the shit storm of misogyny that would get kicked up if we disrupted the current patriarchal system. I think, somewhere inside, we know that changing something as fundamental as a part of our name because we want to take on a man’s name is strange.

The fact that women look forward to this as one of the most significant rites of passage in their lives is, yeah, part of a sexist and misogynistic culture.

If we wouldn’t expect this from men, why as women do we expect this from ourselves?

An Amygdala

Let’s grow together.

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