The Feminist Bride returns as a guest on the Bridechilla Podcast to discuss the wedding tradition of name change (Ep #226). Host Aleisha McCormack asks (and I answer) why do women change their name? Should they? What other options are there? How come men don’t? There’s a whole lot to consider than just your personal motivations – seriously, they might shock you. If you’re a feminist bride (or groom) grappling with whether or not this tradition is for you, I highly recommend you give it a listen (which you can do on iTunes, Android or by downloading the bridechilla app!
And if you missed The Feminist Bride’s first guest spot on the podcast, check out Episode 169, where I discuss the traditions in most need of feminism and the obsolete and sexist symbolism imbedded in them.
Super excited to be interviewed on the #1 wedding podcast, Save The Date. It was really fun sitting down with the host, Aleisha McCormack to talk about some of the most sexist wedding traditions out there and what “bridechillas”‘ and “groomchillas” (bride/grooms who are chill) can do to make them more feminist and respectful for all. So please check out and listen to Episode 169, which by the way, is a totally appropriate number considering how much we discussed the role of sex in wedding traditions! To all the feminist brides (and grooms) out there, I hope it’s an eye opening listen and as fun for you as it was for me in recording it!
Some people use their astrological signs to describe their personality – preordained by time and chance according to the alignment of the stars. Some attribute their character based on their parents or environment; access to money or lack thereof. There are many internal and external factors that help create you, and it’s nice to think that identity, to some extent, is something we can choose. After a short lifetime of making those critical choices or being products of our genetics or childhood, when it’s time to ring the wedding bells do we still have that personal choice to choose “who am I – as a bride?”
Can’t wait to become the new “Mrs. His Name?” Ever think about why men never change their title of “Mr.” when they get married, ever stop to consider what it means for women to only change her title?
Oh yes there’s more! In addition to the 10 The Feminist Bride has already covered, here are 10 more wedding traditions worth skipping. Don’t worry there are solutions for all of them! And yes, that’s a bride throwing a cat…and no, it’s not on this ten list. Sorry cats.
I winced when I heard Ms. Amal Alamuddin was changing her name to Mrs. George Clooney. She became yet another example of a women choosing for her identity to be represented by a man’s after marrying. Here’s how her decision, one shared by the majority of women, is vastly more complicated than it seems.
“Being a bridesmaid has always been a coveted spot for women. It’s right up there with the titular role of BFF. But what if I told you being called a bridesmaid was really the linguistic equivalent of frenemy? It’s hard to believe, but hear me out.”
Taking your first steps as a child are a big deal, so are the ones you and your spouse take together as newlyweds. Who wouldn’t want to step off on the right foot into a lifetime of marital bliss? It’s not the actual steps one takes at the reception that matters (though knowing how to walk in high heels under layers of tulle is a feat unto itself); it’s how the Master of Ceremonies introduces the couple that makes a big difference.
It’s already several dates in. You’re way into this new person and you’re pretty sure he or she is into you. The kissing is great, the butterflies have yet to go away, you swapped embarrassing stories that both of you swore you’d never tell anyone, there’s been talk of future dates and trips and…neither of you are seeing anyone else. It’s time to have “the talk.”
We all know what “the talk” means. It’s time to put oneself out there and ask, “What are we?” Boyfriend and girlfriend? Just dating till something better comes along? Lovers? An open relationship? Sugar daddy/mama? FoBo’s? Friends with benefits? Or the dreaded ‘just friends?’
If you’re looking for some real advice as to what type of wedding traditions you should skip, look no further. Other lists give fluffy advice and are usually limited to things you buy. This top 10 list gives you wedding traditions that are ripe with unfair conditions like sexism or consumerism which can either be thrown out like a garter or bouquet (#8 & #9) or modernized so it treats everyone a little bit better.
Really Kate Spade? This is a little low brow. Sure Carrie Bradshaw wore her trinket Carrie necklace religiously, which had more intrinsic value than any other high fashion item in her closet but it also didn’t assert any social gendering.
There’s probably no “Mr.” version of this necklace, but even if there were, it still wouldn’t represent men discriminately based on his relationship status like a “Mrs.” necklace does. Brides and wives need to think about what it means when being called Mrs. Mrs. carries a lot of unfair social construction and identity politics compared to Mr. When a man marries his identity and name does not change based on his new relationship status, but a woman’s does according to name change tradition and that has a lot of sordid historical weight to it.
Want to be treated as an equal, maintain the integrity of your identity without having to redefine it just because you went through a new life stage? Than opt for using Ms. It’s a much stronger statement and from this feminist perspective a much more awesome sentiment to wear around your neck.
To Learn More About Name Change:
The Lucy Stone League: Crusaders for more name equality!
I created this ‘Name Change Cultural Spectrum’ for a lecture I gave at Tufts University this spring. I wanted people to understand where their decisions stand in the broader context of equality. For example, a lot of women who retain their surname but also incorporate their new spouse’s name through hyphenation will defend their decision as being progressive or feminist or seemingly more about equality. If you look on the spectrum, that one-sided name change is not as based on equality as we might like to think, especially since men typically do not join women in this one-sided hyphenation.
Also to show that existing name change culture does not encourage equality, I had to invent the term Neutronymics. Neutronymics is the adoption of a new name or combination of names created using the names of married individuals or the retention of separate surnames. It is meant to be a solution to those wishing to participate in neither patronymics nor matronymics and to increase name equality. Mutual hyphenation, the Scrabble Name Game and Surname Retention are all options people are aware of, but had never been grouped before or labeled. Labeling it gives it legitimacy and really puts into perspective the other options that favor one sex over another.
So when it comes time for you to get married and you’re not sure if you’re making the right decision that honors yourself and/or your partner – take a look at the Name Change Culture Spectrum. See where your decision places on the map and you’ll get a better sense as to whether you are helping to buck the dominating patriarchy, are alone in your name change decisions or are making a healthy decision that really promotes equality in your relationship and teaches women to value their name too. And if you’re a lady getting married, don’t forget to make the groom put in the same type of name change consideration you are putting in yourself!
The Lucy Stone League: Crusaders for more name equality!
Mystic Pizza (1988) – Julia Roberts first break out role (no, Pretty Women was not the first) in what would be a long career of romantic films. Set in Mystic, CT three strong, local girls struggle with finding love, navigating the bedroom, their future and breaking from their provincial townie existence. Despite class struggles, forbidden affairs and feeling trapped, the girls at the end of the day find solace and comfort in each other and pizza. The break out feminist moment comes in the end, when one girl finally commits to marrying the love of her life but only on the condition that she keep her name. (Subject: Relationships, Sex, Identity, Friendship)
As The Feminist Bride this topic is the most distressing to me. After researching all wedding traditions there are three that earn the top obsolete, sexist and promoting inequality – engagement rings, bridal showers and name change. Now, women are starting to understand that third-wave feminism is about choice, but I have to say that when it comes to name change it isn’t an educated one.
If I have one consistent shortcoming, it is that I am horrible at names. At a party, I am that person who greets most everyone with a “Heyyy…youuuu.” I can tell you what you were wearing, talking about and drinking, but I can’t tell you what the hell your mom wrote in your underwear. It’s a terrible habit, but sometimes it’s not my fault.
I was just in Edinburg and all I saw was a bunch of drunk hen and stag parties! This would have been much more exciting. Zara Phillips recently married England
rugby union player Mike Tindall, and has elected to keep her maiden name because she thinks it will be better for her equestrienne career. One news source claimed that keeping her maiden name was not “any kind of feminist statement” but I highly disagree. A woman keeping her name in support of her career, her heritage, and family just to name a few reasons is a great reason (and a feminist one I might add, because it is a choice that honors one woman and promotes all of them).