What’s in a Name?

We are born with our name and die with our name, and whatever is done between those events we do in our name. Unless…

Unless you’re female. In most societies when a woman marries, she forsakes the surname she was born with and adopts the last name of her husband. She might do a hyphenated combo of both names, or keep her surname professionally, but legally that household falls under the name of the husband, including the children born of that union. We carry our children in our bodies, birth them with our bodies, feed them with our bodies and yet…their surname comes from the father. It is still commonplace to hear people say they hope for a male child to carry on the family name.

Most women will tell you it’s fine and it doesn’t bother them. It’s tradition. Many even look forward to changing their names with glee. But does giving up our name have an effect on how we see ourselves?

Young women today will say ‘I am keeping my name!’ which is a great step forward but…whose surname will you give your children?

Could the surrendering of our names be part of the reason we’re so complicit and accommodating?   Does it tell us we’re not quite as important as the men?

If your response is that this is not a big deal, ask a man how he feels about taking his wife’s name. Tell him his children will carry her name too. Ask him how he feels about the fact that his entire household will fall under the umbrella of his wife’s name and his name won’t exist anymore.

The original reason women took the man’s name is because they were deemed his property, as were any children born from that union. The name is how they were identified as belonging to him. Women and children had no rights or autonomy, they were simply extensions of the man who ruled them.

This is the root of the tradition, and we can all agree we have come a long way baby, in that regard.

But have you ever wondered what the psychological effect of giving up our name has on us as women ? Or what it says to the men regarding their place in life and women’s equality that the wife and children take their name?

I am convicted that the healing of this world will come about through women. But first we must heal ourselves, and in order to do that we need to look at the covert and overt ways we are told what our worth and place is as females on this planet.

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