In a feminist revival, British brides are increasingly choosing to keep their maiden names after marriage
What’s in a name? More importantly, what’s in a maiden name? If you subscribe to the centuries-old ritual of giving it up on your wedding day, not much: more than 90 per cent of women worldwide ditch their family surname and take their husband’s when they get married. But new research, by Facebook, shows that young British brides are refusing to follow suit.
According to a survey of the site’s 33 million UK users, a third of married women in their twenties have kept their maiden name. The study tallies with research last month by the website host Siteopia, which found that 31 per cent of young wives dislike their married name, and wish they’d kept the one they were born with.
Marriage experts say feminism has sparked the revival of the maiden name, with an increasing number of women retaining theirs as a symbol of equality. Historically, maiden names have been associated with women’s liberation: the American suffragist Lucy Stone made a national issue of the right to keep one’s own surname in the 1850s, after refusing to change hers to that of her husband, Henry Blackwell. Women who choose not to take their husbands’ surnames in the US have been known as “Lucy Stoners” ever since.
Researcher Rachel Thwaites, who carried out a study of 102 women as part of her PhD in married names and identity at the University of York, found that a quarter of her sample continued to use their maiden names. “They said they wanted to be equal to their partner,” she says. “There was a sense of 'I am me and my surname is part of that’.”
Practicality is another reason for keeping the name you were born with. For women in the public eye, retaining your surname is a way of separating your identity from your husband’s. Jennifer Aniston was never known as Pitt during her marriage to Brad. Similarly, Zara Phillips (Tindall), Gwyneth Paltrow (Martin), Keira Knightley (Righton), and – perhaps understandably – Kate Winslet (Rocknroll), have all clung to their maiden names. But traditionalists will be pleased to know that there is still a significant proportion of young women (63 per cent, according to Facebook) who believe in taking their husband’s surname. The singer Lily Allen has been known as Lily Rose Cooper since marrying Sam Cooper. And the American singer Beyoncé, who married rapper Jay-Z (Shawn Carter) in 2008, stunned fans when she announced that her forthcoming tour would be called “The Mrs Carter Show”.
Other famous faces who have taken their husbands’ surnames are presenter Gabby Logan (née Yorath), fashion designer Victoria Beckham (Adams), writer Santa Sebag-Montefiore (Palmer-Tomkinson) and former MP Louise Mensch (Bagshawe). Mensch, who wrote 14 novels under her maiden name, says taking her husband’s name was “simply about choice”. “I am madly in love with him, and wanted to identify myself with him,” she says.
Jilly Cooper, the author of How to Stay Married, says she “longed” to rid herself of her maiden name, Sallitt. “Every time I said it I had to spell it,” she says. “So the absolute bliss of being called Cooper was amazing.” She believes the growing number of young wives refusing to take their husbands’ surnames is “another brick thrown against marriage”. “You’re making a commitment. It’s a partnership; two people becoming one. Taking his name is romantic.”
However, if you’re really attached to your surname but don’t mind your husband’s, there’s another option: why not use both? Former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and singer-songwriter Carla Bruni-Sarkozy do it – and television presenter Dawn Porter, who recently married the actor Chris O’Dowd, went for a bizarre mix of the two: she is now known as Dawn O’Porter.
Even Cooper admits it’s not always an easy decision. “If your husband had a terrible name, you’d be more reluctant to take it. Yvette Cooper didn’t become Yvette Balls, did she? Sometimes you have to exercise common sense.” Modern brides, take note.
Source : http://www.businessinsider.com/women-not-changing-name-after-marriage-2013-7