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Image / Editorial

I’m keeping my name when I get married. And it’s not because I’m a feminist


by Colette Sexton
27th Jan 2020
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The name’s Sexton. Colette Sexton. And here’s why it’s going to stay that way when I get married. 


I’m about to get married. Next month.

As a result, I find myself answering the same questions over and over again. Some of the questions are lovely, from people who are genuinely happy for us. Some are, well, not lovely.

“Yes, it is very exciting.” 

“No, we’re not all set but we’re getting there.” 

“Yes, we are very much looking forward to the honeymoon.”

“No, I’m not changing my name.”

“Why? Because I don’t want to.” 

“No, not because of my job, I never wanted to change my name regardless of what I do for a living.” 

“My future husband is absolutely fine with it. Frankly, if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be the kind of person I’d marry anyway.”

I find myself having to explain this most intimate of things — a name, the way I have been identified for my entire life — to practical strangers who think that their opinions should count.

Married to feminism

Some of the arguments they use in an attempt to convince me to change my mind are, frankly, ridiculous. I am aware that when or if we have children, I might have to bring their birth certs to the airport to avoid suspicion when we travel.

To my mind, the limited number of times I will need to remember to bring an extra piece of paper to the airport is a minor inconvenience compared to changing my name for the rest of my life. 

“It is incorrect to use Mrs if you are not changing your name.”

In those conversations, I am often subjected to eye-rolls, and comments about me “being a feminist”. Of course, I’m a feminist.

Feminism advocates for the political, economic and social equality of the sexes. Who wouldn’t want that? But feminism allows the right to choose.

Some women choose to change their names, some choose to keep their names. Both of my sisters changed their names. We’re still talking (shock). Although they weren’t delighted with me when I made life difficult for them by explaining that none of my hen decorations could include the word “Mrs”.

Because I am not changing my name, I will go from Miss to Ms. It is incorrect to use Mrs if you are not changing your name. 

Traditions and culture

In many cultures, it is unheard of for women to change their names after marriage. It is a tradition in our society, and has its origins in the transfer of property after marriage in which a woman went from being her father’s property to becoming her husbands’ property.

“Cutting the wedding cake originally symbolised the breaking of the wife’s hymen.”

That might make you feel a bit queasy, even if you chose to change your name, but believe me, the origins of a lot of our traditions around marriage are not exactly nice.

Cutting the wedding cake originally symbolised the breaking of the wife’s hymen — try not to read into it too much. (For any of our wedding guests that might be concerned — don’t worry, we’re still having a wedding cake. We like cake.)

Many women feel it is a sign of commitment if they take their husband’s name. Good for them. My fiancé and I believe the fact that we are marrying each other, not to mention our 35-year mortgage, already prove we are pretty committed. 

“I still find myself explaining our choices to pushy acquaintances – from our first Christmas to my name.”

Of course, it is not just my name people feel the need to weigh in on. Others have made assumptions about everything from where we will live to what we should do for our first Christmas as a married couple.

These are all decisions we have carefully thought out, discussed and planned together, as any normal couple would.

Yet I still find myself explaining our choices to pushy acquaintances. 

I have realised though that anyone that gets offended by our choices has their own issues, and those issues are nothing to do with us.

The name’s Sexton. Colette Sexton. And it’s going to stay that way. 


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