Changing their last name after Marriage.
It has long been a cultural tradition in many parts of the world for women to take on their husbands’ surnames after marriage.
According to an old proverb which stated: “When a woman gets married, she belongs to her husband and bears all that belongs to him, even his family name,” But does this hold for all cultures, societies, and religions?
It has long been a cultural tradition in many parts of the world for women to take on their husbands’ surnames after marriage. Even though it might not currently be required by law, many women nonetheless opt to alter their names. In this post, we’ll look at the problems that women encounter and how marriage causes them to lose their individuality and identity. Therefore, let’s begin.
Marriage-related customs like the white wedding gown and the diamond engagement ring appear to be deeply rooted in contemporary wedding culture.
However, traditionally, it has also been natural for women in heterosexual unions to adopt their husbands’ last names. But to properly comprehend this in these more enlightened, feminist times—when women who change their names do so of their own free will, women who do not are equally justified in their choice likewise.
To better understand this, it’s essential we go back and look at the origins of this age-old custom.
What’s the History of Women Taking their Husband’s Name During Marriage?
People were so few, dispersed, and loosely organized in mainland Europe in the Dark Ages (approximately 500 to 1000 A.D.) that last names were not always necessary to operate in society.
For these societies and the alliances within them to function effectively, codified practices were required as populations increased through the Middle Ages and society became more structured. According to historian Catherine Allgor (we’ll later fully address in this article), “before there was widespread reading, some rules were coded in writing, but they were more frequently rooted in custom.”
We refer to this as common law.
In extremely patriarchal communities, common law developed. As a result, legislation about women not only discriminated against women but also seldom acknowledged their existence. This was most obviously stated by the idea of “coverture” under English common law.
In a heterosexual marriage, it also serves as the rationale for a woman adopting a man’s last name. But what is coverture, you might be wondering? Let’s hear the expert’s opinion on this.
Meet the Expert
Here is Catherine Allgor, president of the Massachusetts Historical Society, author of “Coverture,” an article for National Women’s History, and foremost expert on the history of women and gender.
In the context of the historical definition, coverture, according to Oxford Language, refers to a married woman’s legal status as being under her husband’s protection and power. In her book, Catherine also expressed this sentiment.
For more information, Allgor says that “Coverture is a legal formation that claimed that no female person possessed a legal identity.” When a woman was a newborn, her father’s identity served as protection, and once she got married, her husband’s. A husband and wife were regarded as “one” under coverture.
Allgor says, “It sounds romantic, but the ‘one’ was the husband. She becomes ‘legally dead,’ as the saying goes.
Therefore, contrary to what we commonly believe, women don’t adopt their husbands’ last names; rather, they integrate into [the husband’s] body. Only the husband exists in law; she does not. Strangely enough, this explains why characters in the dystopian society of Gilead in the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale are given new names like “Offred” and “Ofglen” since they are seen to be “of” the particular men who dominate the society.
Life Instance of a Professional who’s Presently Fighting this Cultural Norm with her Career due to Experience and Identity Loss
2018 Chevening graduate Hande Cayir is majoring in journalism and documentary practice at the University of Sussex. She had previously directed the documentary “Yok Anasnn Soyad,” which championed the strength of the individual (Mrs. His Name, 2012).
Her third book, “Documentary as Autoethnography: a Case Study Based on the Changing Surnames of Women,” which focuses on how women’s surnames change after marriage and divorce, has just been released. She describes her goals and research in this section.
ON HER RESEARCH
I have encountered women who wished to change their last names for several reasons over the years. I’ve known ladies who wanted to adopt their husband’s surnames because they don’t get along well with their fathers. I’ve known mothers who decided to change their names for the benefit of their kids. I’ve known gay couples who made up their last names. Our coworker at the time changed her last name one day, and everyone rejoiced, thinking she had wed. Later, we discovered that she had divorced.
I learned that slaves were compelled to adopt their owners’ surnames as a display of possession and control when investigating the various reasons why women alter their last names.
Corporate organizations like banks will request a user’s “mother’s maiden name” as a password to protect sensitive ID data. It nearly seems as if it has been forgotten or vanished from history, yet the perception is that it is safe, a secret, and no longer known.
ON THE INSPIRATION BEHIND HER BOOK
My former spouse requested that I get a new last name. My family anticipated seeing his surname on my business card, in my film credits, and unofficial documents. My first thought was to say no. Some of my material was published in the interim under a different last name.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” which I once came across. That’s when I realized I had to fight for women’s surname retention rights.
Even though it is my name, I thought it amazing that my family, friends, and other people felt free to discuss it. One of the reasons this project is so important to me is because of that. They gave me a very uneasy feeling and made me feel like I was losing control of who I was.
WHAT SHE LEARNED FROM MAKING FILMS
My filmmaking career served as the foundation for this study. My personal story, in which my inner voice propels me ahead, is reflected in my documentary and research. Studies into my inner world frequently serve as the inspiration for my work. I’ve had a long-standing enthusiasm for the issue of women being compelled to alter their last names, and I hope that emotion comes through in my book.
As a woman getting married, changing your last name is possible if you’re alright with it and feel that it won’t affect your identity.
There are various instances of men choosing to adopt their wife’s last name: According to a New York Times article, 32-year-old Rebecca Vogels recounts how her husband volunteered to take her name when they were engaged. She says that she still views this as a sign of his devotion and love now.
In addition, the legislation makes it clear that the husband is not required to use his wife’s last name; instead, it says that doing so is optional, so as the wife.
Given what I have said about the importance of your name and identity as well as the psychological effects of growing up in a world where your name for yourself is temporary, the proposal that men change their names may therefore seem unfair. However, men do not develop an awareness of their psychological impermanence.
They do not develop in the wake of centuries of gender-based oppression. Therefore, it makes much more sense to give it to the lady if you’d like that everyone in your family has the same name.
Alternately, we can adopt a modern definition of family where people join together under a single name and a single male figurehead to build social and legal relationships out of love and loyalty.
Facebook will be simpler to use while looking for friends if everyone uses their name.