Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Husband takes wife, and her last name

You don't hear about it often, so it's no surprise that a story about a man who took his wife's last name is making its way around the Internet. The man in question, Josiah Neufeld, wrote a column about it for the Globe and Mail, simply titled "I took my wife's last name." (Jezebel also has a post about it.)

I have to say that, for me, his column comes across as sweet. It sounds like his now-wife wasn't too keen on giving up her last name. He writes:
"I did it because I love Mona - because I wanted her to know that I didn't expect her to become anyone other than herself. It mattered to me that we shared a name, so I reasoned I should be the one to offer mine up."
And something else he said is worth thinking about, beyond the context of him taking her last name:

I did it because any form of power comes with duties. I'm obliged to take responsibility for my power, to learn its effects - even unintentional ones - to see what it does to others when I'm not watching, to use it in the best way possible. Sometimes to relinquish it.
If you do a Google search for "husband takes wife's last name," you get a LOT of results. There are some really interesting articles out there on the topic and a good number of first-person pieces on why the couple went that route. What's interesting is, in the five or so first-person pieces I read, all of the men talked about or were asked about a "loss of identity" with their name change. I can't recall ever hearing any of my female friends talk about that when they took their husband's name. I guess it's so ingrained in our culture that "that's what women do" when they get married, they don't even get asked the question.

Whatever name(s) couples want to take/use is fine by me. Woman takes man's name, fine. Man takes woman's name, also fine. She hyphenates, good for her. They both hyphenate, fantastic. Each keeps own name, wonderful. Make up a whole new last name? Go for it! I haven't been married, so I haven't dealt with it myself, but I think one's name is a pretty big deal, and changing it at least deserves serious thought first.

As an aside, did you know Jack White took his (then) wife's last name when he married Meg White? Before that, his last name was Gillis.

And here's another interesting fact (at least, as of 2007):
Only California, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York and North Dakota explicitly allow a man to change his name through marriage with the same ease as a woman.


1 comment:

Miss Unconventional, Latina Fatale said...

This is so awesome. It's my dream!

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