Mr and Mrs, what's in a name?

Image credit: isaxar / 123RF Stock Photo
I listened to radio 4 on the way to work. This is always a bad idea and always annoys me, but like a car crash I seem draw to it..moth to a flame etc

This morning' topic was that in France they plan to stop using a married woman's husband's surname by default on official correspondence, using instead her 'maiden name' as this is more in keeping with equality.

The rationale behind this is that she does not become her husband's property, she is still a woman in her own right, marriage doesn't change that. All sounds perfectly logical ...

Except .. your 'maiden name' is so called due to your remaining a 'maid' (ie virgin) until marriage. A concept rarely kept nowadays. Your 'maiden name' is your father's name. It is not 'your' name any more than your husband's is. As a woman you do not have a name of your own!

So while initially this all sounds very proper and politically correct it serves no purpose at all. In fact, as one guest said, it detracts for the new unit you have formed with your husband and maybe your children, a new team where you all share a name.

Apparently the French have no title of Ms. and I have no idea if they plan to use Madame or Mademoiselle with the 'maiden name' .. either would surely confuse.

When I got married I was proud to become #teamCanelloni (not my real name though it is Italian!) But if I hadn't wanted to take my husband's name I guess I could have ask him to take mine, or we could have chosen a new one entirely, I certainly wouldn't want us all to have different names.

What do you think? Storm in a tea cup? Much ado about nothing? Or an important rung on the feminist ladder?

Father's name, Husband's name...does it make a difference? Should we all consider a new name for a new (married) life or is marriage itself outdated? Do you like people to know your marital status or is it secret? (I made a public declaration when I got married so I'm happy to keep it very public that I am married!)

Love to read your thoughts.


  1. As a family I like sharing a name, so as I already had children with 'my' name when Gareth and I got married he changed his name so it's the same as mine. He has to use his deedpole certifictae when doing anything officially, it's a right pain!! BUT we love all sharing a name, I really don't see it as a feminist issue.

  2. My Daughter has her mother's name rather than mine.
    I, having never fully gotten over you, have remained a batchelor.

    1. Flatterer :-)

      don't stop though that wasn't a critisism :-)

  3. Throughout my long years I have had several changes of surname from my birth families name to my foster families name, then to my then husbands surname and more recently back to my (foster) family name. Each change of name designed to enable me to fit within the family unit that I was a part of at that time. I am hoping to get married again at the end of this year and I am not 100% sure what I shall do about my surname. As much as I want to be the wife of Mr A, the name that I have now is one I have chosen twice and is who I am.

  4. I have always refused to change my name on marriage, which was a sticking point in some relationships. I'm not property. I later changed my name to something completely different.
    after the man and I married which caused some confusion to some people!

    I get apocalyptic when post is addressed to Mr&Mrs x surname. That feels like an erosion of my identity and self.

    I do love the idea of choosing a family name when you marry and using that going forward. However The Man did not, and I wasn't going to make it a sticking point.

    The Grubs found it a bit odd for a bit when at school, which i think was a difference thing. We have said they can have either name or a new family name but none of them are that bothered now.

  5. I have an odd viewpoint on the whole thing. If you keep your maiden name, doesn't it still make you your father's property - if you're looking at it from a feminist point of view?
    I took my husband's name when we married in all parts of my personal life.
    But professionally I've kept the name I grew up with - which is the name of my mother's 3rd and last husband (my Dad was husband no 2).
    Mum was such a snob that she didn't want us to have different names, so she enrolled me in school with my stepdad's name. And after she divorced him we both kept his name.
    I grew up as Donna White and have been known as a journalist with that byline. But the man who brought that name to me only stayed in my life for a couple of years and I don't even remember him. He was gone by the time I was 5.
    But I wouldn't use my father's name, because he chose to abandon me as a baby.
    To me, the name I use professionally is just a label. It has no meaning other than to identify me to people professionally and personally.
    I used to beg my mum to allow me to change my name to her maiden name. But she refused.
    So I've got used to the name. And like most journalists I haven't changed my name at work when I married.
    But it's got nothing to do with who I am.

  6. I did agonise for a little while over whether to take my husband's surname or stay as my maiden name or take up my mum's maiden name (she passed away and her family have been the support my siblings and I needed, my Dad's side did very little except send condolences then nothing). I quite liked the idea of double barreling my maiden name with husband's name but only because my maiden name is very rare and I thought double-barreled sounded great! In the end I just went for my husband's name and whilst I don't think I am any more his property than I would be my Dad's if I was still single, I rather like having the same name, especially as we now have a child.

    1. Yes I think the thing that annoyed me was that the change in France meant the "unit" created by marriage was separated by differing names, maybe have no default and just ask!

  7. I would never change my name, period. Yes, it's my Dad's surname, but as a whole, 'Sarah Anne Linney' is *my* name. I'm often addressed by my full name or nicknames which incorporate it (Slin, Slinney, Slindog Millionaire ...), it's how I'm known to everyone, it's the journalistic byline under which I've published work and run campaigns I'm incredibly proud of, it's my identity. The origin is irrelevant to me - it's who I am. To become Sarah-something-else would feel like an erosion.