I’m a feminist yet I’m getting married. We’re doing our best to make it as anti-traditional as possible, but there’s ultimately no getting away from the fact that conventional, heterosexual marriage is a deeply patriarchal system. Which sadly isn’t sexy.
This begs the question of why we’re getting married at all, especially since we have no desire for children. The simple answer is that we want to spend our lives together, and we want to make a commitment to each other in front of our family and friends. It’s quite straightforward.
So we’ve done the obvious things: it will be a registry office (and we’ve requested a female registrar); my father will not ‘give me away’, instead my fiancé and I will enter the registry room together; there will be no top table; there will be no all-male line-up for speeches and toasts; and as far as possible we are using local, small businesses and services to help us with supplies.
Couple all this with our strict £2,000 budget for everything, and this really is a teeny tiny wedding (yep, I know, we could do it for under £200 if we tried). My dress cost £110, which (smug face) I think is pretty good going.
But a thorny issue is that of my surname. Do I keep my ‘maiden’ name (what an awful expression), or do I assume my husband’s surname? Do I become ‘Mrs’ or do I remain ‘Ms’? While I know that ultimately, whatever I decide, people will call me ‘Mrs HisFirstName HisSurname’ (presumably the same people who willfully insist on calling me by the insulting title ‘Miss’ now), there is still an element of choice for me. If not for my husband-to-be, who will retain his gender-neutral title of ‘Dr’.
I’ve had endless conversations about this with feminist friends for months and still reached no happy conclusion. Some are horrified I’m considering changing my surname, others think it’s not a big deal. But of all the anti-traditional, anti-patriarchal statements to make via marriage, the name issue seems the biggest. As it’s the ultimate statement of your identity to the outside world.
In a joint refusal to double-barrel our names, the upshot is I probably will become ‘Ms HisSurname’… but I feel like I’m letting the side down. There needs to be a better solution…