Women do not have last names
Posted on November 14, 2012
It struck me from out of the blue.
I thought to myself, “do I want to keep my last name or do I want to have another?” This has been done for ages. There was almost shame in keeping to your own last name, as if the woman did not love the man enough, as if she owed him.
And then, I thought, “but wait a second, my last name is not mine, it is my father’s, and his father’s father. Isn’t that right? How is it possible that it never bothered us, that the women’s side of the family never is represented in their children. But, forget even that, there is no last name from the women’s side. Their own last name is that of their fathers, and their father’s father, and infinity and beyond.
It came as a surprise to me because I didn’t realize that I already had a foreign name. Not mine, but my father’s, and my mom’s name was not her own, but her father’s, and my grandma’s last name was not her own, but her father’s. I then realized again that there was no point in trying to come up with a pen-name that would be one of my other father’s father’s name. What did it matter? So, I stick with the one I have. It’s O.K. It looks smart at least.
But, I realized there had to be this pride on taking a man’s last name, this pride that came with marriage vows. It was a devotion of faithfulness. Was it not? Maybe, this is a Western thing, or what-not, maybe not all cultures have this problem. But, all- in- all, it seemed O.K. to do it for a while. But, it’s not good forever. The idea has become stagnant, and something has been lost, the loss of a woman’s last name altogether.
Can a woman have her own last name? Does she have to start from the beginning? I pick what I want, and that is what my children are called? And, that name passes down? But, for how long? And, it seems artificial. My father’s last name was not made by him, but it was for him to represent; it was his from the start.
What do you call a last name?