Wednesday 19 August 2009

Of Marriage and Ownership....

I came across this excellent article through Sugerbelly on Next (where I hope to write for some day) about the concept of women changing their names after marriage. It is apparently not a Nigerian culture at all, rather a Christain one, that like alot of other things, has now become part of our mordern day culture. The questions of ownership, control and chauvanistic egos arise once we start looking in depth at the institution of marriage in Nigeria as it an inherently one sided affair.
Personally, I have never given the matter any thought until I read the article. I guess I assumed I would change my name once I got married or get a hypen with my maiden and married name, but I have never seen that as meaning I am any less my own person, or loosing my original identity by adopting his. Afterall, my current surname is my father's which my mother adopted, and my father's mother adopted as well. So any concept of ownership are lost because, although I am claiming not to belong to my husband by changing my name, I am still claiming to belong to my father thereby loosing any feminist points.
Women like Angelina Jolie and Jenifer Aniston, both married to Brad Pitt, but never adopted his name have brought this issue further into the light, but to be fair, hollywood has alot of issues that mean they have unique considerations that do not apply to us mere mortals!
At the same time, great women have been recognised on their own merit regardless of adopting thier husbands' name. A good example is Winnie Mandela. Although she is the ex-wife of Mandela, she never changed her name after the divorce and is still respected based on her own achievements.
I guess at the end of the day, it is left to the dynamics of the couple in question. If a woman feels the need to keep her surname, then I salute her for that. Normally I am feminist, but on this issue I do not really see it as proving any points.


  1. I LOVE the article. Really really good. i must say i love the Hispanic culture of keeping your father's name as you middle name....

    i was always going to keep my maiden name and hyphen HIS. not as an act of feminism or anything like that but for the more important act of vanity :)i love my last name and I don't want to give it up. i just hope he's not one of those types whose ego need his wife bearing his name and only name. Sounds silly but you'd be surprised at what guys get anal over.

  2. P.S- don't you wish guys were "obligated" by society to give up something when they get married too. that has always been theirs...part of their identity.

  3. They already give up somerthing-thier freedom--at least they are supposed to!
    Oh and hopefully they give up thier money too!!LOL

  4. How feminist of you miss

  5. Ohhhh this is such a beautifly well written piece..and its good to see you commenting on the blog.nice one miss b

  6. Hmm- bang on! I always have this argument with everyone coz they all seem to think that i'm being rebellious not to take someone else's name. So its a christian culture. Hmm-mm, only just recently found out that the muslim culture is keeping your surname! Bliss!

  7. lol at faty's comment..x

  8. Call me vain but I think there are some kind of surname's some women would not even think twice to adopt. E.g. Mandela.
    But then again when ure someone like Jolie, you really need not adopt Pitt.:)