I was having coffee with a younger friend of mine recently and she told me that she had changed her surname. I presumed that as she was recently separated that she had reverted to her maiden name… but no she had chosen a new name which had associations and meaning for her and which she will now carry throughout her life.
It got me thinking again about my own associations with a name and the western practice of adopting the surname of the male.
I kept my own surname
When I married the father of my children in the mid 1980s it was standard that you took your husband’s name. Whilst I did that socially I still worked under my maiden name—my name—and I kept a bank account in my name too.
This happily continued for about nine years until I seemed to have lost track of my own identity in the role of being a wife and mother.
A crisis of identity
This crisis of identity led to me making the decision to revert back to my name. At the time my mother was horrified, how would the children feel with their mother having a different name, what about the school… etc.
I stuck to my guns and after the sky didn’t fall in and my children certainly have always known who their mother is, and if anyone was confused it was their problem not mine or my childrens.
Our name, our identity
For me, my sense of identity is strongly associated with my name, and I urge all women to think about this before they blindly change their name when they marry, and to not blindly follow the western mysoginist practice.
My view is coloured by having grown up in the 1960s and 1970s when often women struggled to get recognition in a male dominated business world. In the 1980s I was initially the only female accountant in the firm where we had to be not just good, but the best to be taken seriously and get equal pay to the males.
Sadly many of the younger women of today seem to have been removed from this struggle. It is still far from being won, women are still paid on average less than their male counterparts, and still do more around the home.
Women have much to offer and we need to develop a strong sense of self and demand respect to ensure that we continue on the path of having a society which values the contributions of all.