Thursday, December 28, 2006

When Married, Should the Woman Have to Take on the Man's Last Name?

Big wedding coming up tomorrow for me and many of my friends. I'll write about that later. But interestingly enough, I read a post by Nathan that got me thinking. I decided to make a brief comment on his blog, but it got rather lengthy. I was hoping others might chime in with their opinion, but so far, no luck. So now I'm posting it here, hoping that it might spark a discussion. I don't know, maybe it's not a big deal and nobody cares. Maybe you'd rather not take time to think up a response. Whatever.

Anyways, you should read his post first (in the link below), then read my response. The topic is: whether or not a woman should take on the man's last name. Is this another of our chauvinistic traditions? I wonder what happens with gay marriages, since it will probably only be a matter of time before that becomes legalized in every state. I'm just curious what you all think. Especially the womenfolk. Is this degrading or something? Do you even care? Hopefully some people will take the time to add their two cents. Thanks.

Nathan's thoughts: To Keep or Not Keep Thy Last Name

My response:
While I agree that this is something that should definitely be talked about between the man and woman, I'm not sure I agree that we shouldn't hang on to our "caveman way of things."

It seems to me that there are four choices here:
1) Woman takes man's name.
2) Man takes woman's name.
3) Man and woman join name (the hyphen thing).
4) Man and woman keep original name.

Before we begin choosing which of these is the best choice, we all have to agree that we are basing our desicion on what we think is the best general practice for all society. I think each couple should be free to do as they please, but if we had to choose a rule that everyone were forced to follow, I think our current caveman method is the best.

Number three can be easily ruled out as the best choice. As I said, it may work on an individual basis, but as a general rule, it's no good. All we need to do is look two generations down the line to see how confusing this could be. "We are gathered here today to join together Joe Whatam-Ess and Jane Werema-King in holy matrimony...It is my pleasure to introduce to you Mr. and Mrs. Joe and Jane Whatam-Ess-Werema-King!" As you can clearly see, within a few generations things would be chaotic. This cannot be the norm for our society.

Next, we'll move on to number 4. I think the biggest problem this would create would be in naming the child. The original purpose of marriage was to create a family and we have to assume (for the sake of this argument) that this is still the goal of marriage. So if each spouse keeps their own name, what do you name the child? Either name you choose completely alienates the other parent and breaks down one of the essential components of a family: namely, the "name." Even without the child, there is something basic and necessary about the married couple taking on the same name. It's the whole, "two become one" thing. I rest my case on this one, but will argue the point further if necessary in future discussions.

That leaves us with the first two options. The choice between these two is simple. They are virtually the same thing, except that one has a few thousand years of tradition backing it up. I can see no logical reason to suddenly switch to the other method. It just wouldn't make any sense to do this as a society. And we would lose one of the best used password clues we have: "What is your mother's maiden name?" That alone should be enough to keep things the way they are.

So as for me, I think it's best to stick to the caveman way of things. At least on a societal scale.


mike S said...

Apparently you crashed the server for the other blog - I didn't realize you had that many readers! Anyway, I honestly think this issue is up to the couple. Ten years ago I would have been stedfast on my point that the woman takes the man's last name. Today, I'm a bit more liberal (I guess) and I'm not opposed to the hyphen deal, or the woman keeping her last name. OK - here's my old fashioned me coming out - the child still gets dad's last name. Eeek! I can see the hateful comments now. Hey, that's just me. Again - it boils down to what the couple agrees upon. It's THEIR marriage - no one elses.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

You know me and my love of all things "caveman-ish", so you know my answer to this one.

However, should I ever marry again, I will keep THIS married name for writing purposes, although for everything else, I'd absolutely and with great pride use his name.