Marrying Identity & Feminism // Notes on a Woman’s Surname

Guest post by Lara (Miller) Rowand. Lara is a writer, Tarot reader, homesteader, Pitbull mom, and self-proclaimed ecofeminist who owns a farm in central Virginia, USA. She holds a B.A. in History and M.A. in English literature, both of which she forgets about the majority of the time. 

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Jeremy Bishop / Unsplash

The day I became engaged to the man who would become my husband, one of the first questions I was asked was, “Will you change your last name?” I came to find that I would be asked this question numerous times over the months until our marriage (and even after), by friends, family, and even some strangers. Evidently my response of “Yes” surprised some folks, who know me to be a vocal feminist, and I was disappointed to find myself criticized by some. I received comments such as, “I can’t believe you would do that. But you’re a feminist.” and “You’re taking a man’s last name?” These instances caused me to notice similar criticism elsewhere as well, whether in person, via social media, in magazines, etc.

For me, it has been a joy to see the ways in which feminism has changed several societal and cultural traditions, especially over the last decade or two. I grew up in an incredibly traditional region where it is still unheard of for a woman to refrain from changing her last name after getting married. Acts such as this may seem small to some, but I do recognize the important implications of a woman keeping the last name she was given at birth. It is still something that symbolizes greater freedom and further acceptance as an equal. This is why I didn’t immediately jump on the idea of changing my last name—at least not to my husband’s. I certainly had some questions in my head pertaining to my own identity and what kind of statement I may be making either way.

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