I recently went to the county courthouse to get a marriage license with my fiance. After filling it out, I asked about changing my name because my fiance and I are choosing our own, new name — we don’t want the names of either of our fathers. I had read online that for women, there is a place on a marriage license to change your name, but there is no such place for men. So we figured that I would change my name easily by writing in my new name, while my fiance would have to go through the longer process of a name change.
However, there was no place to change my name and when I asked the clerk she said that “when you marry [the woman's] name automatically changes to [the man's].” If you want to keep your own name, you just never file Social Security changes or inform anyone of the (apparently automatic) name change.
I was so shocked and outraged to hear this. Why is it still assumed that women want to automatically take the names of their partners? Why can’t my male partner take my name automatically by filing our marriage certificate with Social Security? I am so grateful to be marrying a strongly feminist individual who never assumed that I would take his name; there was never a discussion of having only me change my name. We talked about both hyphenating our names, him taking my name, and each of us keeping our names before deciding that we wanted to choose our own name.
The government, of course, hardly holds the same radical ideas about equality between people of differing reproductive abilities! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that marriage, as the government sees it at least, is still an absurdly patriarchal and sexist institution, but I guess it’s MFIF.
Keeping her name, Southern Ohio