Today on Scrubs Eliott told Jordan that she might want to marry Keith but not sure if she wants the last name Dudemeister… it got me thinking about how most women change their name after they get married and of a conversation I had with with a concierge a few years ago when I tagged along with Kashif for a conference:
Aisha: Hi, I got locked out of my room.. could someone let me back in?
Bob: *big smile* Sure thing m’aam I’ll just check your liscence and call security to open it right up for you *big ole smile and takes card*
Bob: *silence*. You’re not in our database.
Aisha: Oh yeah sorry, it would be under my husband’s name. Iqbal.
Bob: *types in Iqbal…pauses.. stares at my license. Stares at name on screen.. frowns at me*
Aisha: Um yes we dont have the same last name but I promise he’s my husband! See the ring? *raises hand and wiggle ring finger with sweet smile to prove not crazy stalker*
Bob: *shaking his head and frowning at Aisha, very stern* You say you’re married?
Aisha: um… yes? *wiggle ring finger again and smile*
Bob: You mean to tell me you got married and didnt change your last name?
Bob: Your husband allowed this?! HE said it was okay not to take his last name?!?
Bob: *picks up phone to call security while staring at me quite disapprovingly* If my wife even thought about not changing her last name, we’d be havin some issues.
Yep much to Bob’s sincere disapproval I am married and did not take hubby’s last name. When I was getting married it didn’t come up as a problem. Kashif asked me a few days before the wedding “so you changing your last name?” I told him I wasn’t planning to and he said “cool” and we moved on…. just like that..
I always find it funny and fascinating the question of “why?” It’s usually accompanied with a look of uneasy fascination as though one is witnessing a strange monkey in their own backyard. Array is she a feminist? Doesn’t like her husbands last name? Haw hai!
Reason one: The Western name change thing came about when women were still percieved as virtually property with few rights of their own. First property of their fathers, then of their husbands and ofcourse the last name changed as ownership changed. Ofcourse that’s not why women change their names now but the history makes me feel funny about it.
Reason two: Like all parents, mine put thought and care into naming me. The meaning of my full name is: Life Peace Happiness. I like that and I am proud of it, though I am married my name signifies who I am and where I came from. It honors the people who raised me. I felt by changing my name a part of me would change.
Reason three: In Islamic tradition women don’t have to change their names and from what I hear it’s Sunnah not to… during the Prophet’s time women kept their name. This is why it cracked me up one ISNA conference when Kashif and I, newly married, met some aunties who saw our name tags and with eyebrows raised.. “ohh you didnt change your name? Moderrrrn woman hm?” I had to stifle a smile since keeping your last name is a part of Islamic culture dating back to the founding of the faith. Oh Auntie… Vatever!
Reason four: And yes plain old laziness was a factor too. The thought of changing my drivers lisence, social security card, diplomas, etc made me just want to take a nap.
There are ofcourse downsides, (no not the stares, and haw hai’s…that’s kinda funny) but our kids will have his last name and maybe having the same last name makes you all seem more… I dont know “family-ish”.. and maybe its a little less complicated say getting back into your hotel, signing out kids from school… proving family ties. Maybe one day I will change it but right now I’m comfortable with status quo.
It seems most people have strong opinions one way or the other on this topic. Did you change your last name? Did you? Didn’t you? Why? Why not? If you’re a guy do you relate to Bob and his sincere disappointment that a patron of his hotel should keep her maiden name or will you like Kashif shrug your shoulders and leave it to her.