Naming and Choice

So… we’re probably all familiar with feminist arguments against the assumption that children must bear their father’s last name. And we’re all familiar (some of us intimately) with people, including feminists, who give children the father’s last name. It’s actually very interesting to see the wide variety of explanations for this choice, which somehow the overwhelming majority of couples (even couples where the woman kept her own name) end up making. But did you realise that until 2002 this wasn’t a choice in Washington, D.C.? Up until this time, a married couple couldn’t get a birth certificate for a child unless they gave the child the husband’s name. Also important to the issue of choice is the fact that, in most states, it’s far more difficult and expensive for a man to change his name than for a woman to do so. Nice example of the way that constraints on men and women are inter-related. More on this from Jessica at Feministing here.