I adore the New York Times and I love me a good party, but even more so I am pedantic about honoring people’s surnames. So I was particularly dismayed when Phillip Galanes answered in a NYT’s Social Q’s column to a C. Z., San Francisco that they should by no means be concerned about their spouses poor invitation etiquette, “Your neighbors will be far happier to be invited than distraught by Hubby’s inability to spell Frances. (Or is it Francis?)” Galanes idea of invitation etiquette is probably the worst advice two people planning a wedding and writing their invitations could possibly follow. Galanes probably has no clue what problems he is contributing to in his response.
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.
Before you get excited about becoming the next Mrs. John Smith, beware! There’s a sordid history to this cultural practice and severe modern implications as to how women are contributing to their own marginalization.
The video is a lecture I gave at the Tufts University Women’s Center ‘Beyond the Classroom’ symposium. It explains the history of why women take men’s name upon marriage, dives into its modern relevancy and issues and offers solutions for what women and men can do to practice the art of name change with more egalitarianism. (I’ll slowly be posting the name change spectrum and video transcript too!)
If you’re interested in more information about patronymics and matronymics and general name change here are a few additional Feminist Bride links and sources: