Social Question

rebbel's avatar

Women; have you ever realized that you never had your real own surname?

Asked by rebbel (35525points) September 20th, 2019

Think of it; you probably got your father’s name, at birth.
But if you had gotten your name from your mother, who did she gotten her name from?
And her mom? And her mom?
From their fathers.
In a way you could say that already for decades, centuries maybe even, women have never had their own name.
Always a name given by the man.
And if you (will) have a baby, most probably that will again get the name of the father.

What do you think of that?

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10 Answers

Irukandji's avatar

By this logic, men have never had their own surnames either. They get theirs from their fathers, who got theirs from their fathers, etc. And if you go back far enough, they were imposed on great-great-great-whatever grandfathers by other people who found it easier to remember their professions than their names (in most cases).

You’re also ignoring some well known exceptions. The most obvious is hyphenated names. If two people get together, hyphenate their name, give that name to their children, and have only daughters, then that daughter is getting a name from each of her parents (not just her father), and it’s not a name that either of her grandfather’s had.

The other big exception is cultures where male and female children of the same parents get different surnames. Gendered surnames, like old Norwegian or Irish surnames, meant that each child got at least part of their name from themselves. And this isn’t even getting into places where adults drop their surnames and/or go by names based on who they are (sometimes of their own choosing).

Zaku's avatar

When you get married, you can legally choose whatever name you want. You can also do it any time you like by declaring your new name, and in many countries, you can make it legal with a form and a fee (in the US, you get a free one when you marry, but it’s not expensive in any case).

I know quite a few people who renamed themselves.

Inspired_2write's avatar

In the distant past women were buried with the maiden name on the tombstone.
Frustrating for Genealogists when doing searches unless they find the marriage record showing her maiden name.
in the 1990“s I hyphenated my name showing maiden name and married name on important documents or business information.

Otherwise I signed with married name only.

Now divorced and widowed and retired I only use my maiden name on all communications as I know from years of researching family history how important to have that documented.

I wish to leave a trail for future generations to research, however I have left a legacy
( Family History Book ) for our descendants in case.

filmfann's avatar

When Gary’s unmarried mom went to the hosp to have the baby, she didn’t have insurance, so she gave her married sister’s name. This resulted in the baby having his aunt’s last name.
When Gary and my daughter had a baby, they decided to give the baby Gary’s mom’s last name, to correct the earlier misnaming.
I didn’t know you could give a child any last name you want. My advice to them was to name the child Pitt-Jolie. Why not give him every advantage?

Yellowdog's avatar

Several of my high-school girlfriends still use their maiden names, even though they have been married for decades. It makes no sense, to me, for women to change their names at marriage except for hyphenated names. You can’t tell if a woman is married by their last names, anyway, unless you just happen to know their former name.

nerdgirl578's avatar

@Yellowdog I agree, but isn’t the name change largely for practical reasons (much like marriage itself)? Like, it’s easier if the whole family including the children have the same name. Of course, historically that name would always be the father’s…

KNOWITALL's avatar

It doesn’t bother me, just tradition.

I kept my mom’s name, didn’t like dad much, but legally I could have.

My soon to be ex’s last name is my favorite so far, but that’s obvi going to change. I suppose I’ll revert to my mom’s, although I hate it.

snowberry's avatar

Meh. I don’t like my maiden name. Changing it when I married was a good thing.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Name… shmame… That’s not important.
You inherited your mitochondrial DNA from your mother. And she got it from her mother, and so on. We Inherit Mitochondrial DNA Only From Our Mothers.
Women are the ones with the true links to the past. In the long run that is way more powerful than a name.

Inspired_2write's avatar


Exactly! The Mitochondrial DNA does not change throughout the lineage .
Autosomal DNA which is usually the first test done has both the male and female DNA signatures although different percentages between siblings and generations .
This enables identifying the mother and the father family lineages.
M-DNA tests identify just the females line more accurately.
Y-DNA just the male lines more accurately.

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