Love, Family

Why I Never Wanted To Change My Maiden Name (For His) — Until Now

Photo: Kyle Loftus on Unsplash
maiden name, how to change back to maiden name while still married

Taking a man's last name after marriage always seemed like it would take away my identity. 

I always wonder how patriarchal structures influence my daily life. I swore off heels for the longest time because I thought I was better than those who wore them. I hated the color pink since it was associated with a type of femininity that did not seem to be respected.

As I came to understand feminism, I accepted heels and pink back into my life. Still, questions cross my mind: Why do I like wearing heels? Does it have anything to do with the fact I have been conditioned to believe they make me look better?

RELATED: Why I Took My Wife's Maiden Name When We Married

These lingering questions have everything to do with the patriarchal systems we live under. Patriarchy emphasizes that the way people interact with one another is due to the male dominance in society.

Patriarchal ideas include that when a woman gets married she must change her last name for his ... and for the longest time I was strongly opposed to this notion. 

Most women in my family didn't change their maiden name. I grew up believing that keeping my last name was no big deal. That I'd still get married even if I wanted to keep my last name (and I probably will).

A close friend of mine who did change her last name only did it because her husband really really wanted her to.  It wouldn't have been a deal-breaker if she didn't change her last name but he'd be very upset. Even after the change she still uses her maiden name for her career work.

It seems so archaic to have to change my last name when guys won't even consider either hyphenating their last name with mine or taking my last name.

Taking on the husband's last name comes from a very old tradition. It was during this time when women were traded off for cattle and taken into the male's family.  Women were seen as property rather than people.

RELATED: 10 Pros And Cons: Changing Your Name For Marriage

When you dehumanize a person of their human value, you no longer see them as people but rather as things to own. Trading off a woman for cattle or goat simply means that she no longer has her own agency but is rather in control by her male counterpart, thus taking his last name. She is seen as his property.

It wasn't until I went away to University did I realize how “important” it seems for a woman to take on her man's last name. It's almost as if boys are taught that his wife had to and would take his last name.  

It's entitlement in its purest form.

I thought taking my husband's last name seemed like I was letting go a part of myself to take on a name that had no significance to my identity until we met. I am my longest relationship.  

RELATED: Why I Decided To Hyphenate My Last Name — After 6 Years of Marriage

Recently, I got into a heated argument with one of my closest guy friends, and he raised a couple of points:

1. "Taking on a man's last name is tradition. "

2. "It shows you're a family, you're one unit, and that you're proud to be a part of his family circle."

But, to his point, there's a lot of traditions we had and no longer keep. Slavery was an ugly tradition in American history that we don't keep either.

To his second point, why can't men take on a woman's last name if we're talking about making one family unit?

This falls into a third point. My point. 

Why can't my future husband show that he is proud to be in my family circle, as well as his? We are two people creating one family, so it would make sense to hyphenate my name with yours. It would represent our pasts and futures becoming one.

But — despite everything I believe — I realize that if it were so important to my future husband that I take his last name... I probably would.

Feminism is a staple to men and women's equality. It also emphasizes that I have a choice. It has given me the agency to pick who I want as my life partner.

I choose to get married. I choose to keep or change my last name. And if it’s meaningful that I take on my husband's last name, he needs to at least recognize that I have a choice.

Women are more than the last name they carry. 

RELATED: 4 Reasons I Refuse To Change My Last Name For My Future Husband

Isabella Ong is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.