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When you get married, should you change your name? Will it be assumed that this article is aimed at female readers? I hope not.
Once upon a time a woman's name would be changed because in a sense the deeds of her ownership had transferred from her father to her new husband. Instead of being known as "Mr. Harrison's daughter" you'd be "Mr. Adepitan's wife"—only ever in existence in relation to a man. I understand why we want to escape those ugly traditions, but does it spell the end for the family-name?
Once upon a time I was known only by my surname "Harrison"—it was my artist-name and all people would call me. It's a solid name that most people know how to spell and pronounce, it's served me well. So why would I change it?
I met a man who inspires me daily, supports me when I'm weak and when I'm strong, and he not only wants to spend the rest of his life with me but wants to start a family with me; and I want that too. We're in love. As soon as he proposed, I started questioning whether I would change my name or whether he would...yet throughout our 3 year engagement our friends and family only ever asked whether I would change my name - I was the only person to ever ask him if he would take my name. His name is Adepitan, it's quite a rare Nigerian name which means something like "The crown tells a story." Unfortunately it's also a name that creditors appear to be prejudice against and a name very few people know how to successfully pronounce or spell. So why would I take it?
That question is something I feel like a lot of feminists are asking me with a side-eye of judgement as if I've sold my soul to the patriarchy; and I get it. I changed my name because I wanted to start a family and to me that involves sharing a name with the father of my children and my children.
We had options:
Most of which are a bit of a mouthful!
My brother is married with kids, so the Harrison name had been passed down already. My husband doesn't have nieces or nephews, so if we don't have children it could be the end of his family-name. In my mind it'd be selfish for me to hold onto my name given those circumstances. I can always pass my family-name down via a middle name or first name. I could have kept my name and still call my future children by his name, but to me it's a family-name and as part of that family I want that name too and I'm proud to be joining his wider family—they're awesome. Side note... there are bonuses to my new name, my initials are now L.A. and I'm a singer la la la and I love Los Angeles. Double bonus: It takes less ink to write The Adepitan's on an envelope instead of Mr. Adepitan & Mrs Harrison. Minor... but I like it.
There are many articles out there saying you might lose your identity if you change your name. Sure—there'll be people asking me where my new name comes from, and they won't instantly recognise that I'm from the West, but that doesn't mean that I forget who I am and it doesn't stop me from telling people my history or the history of the family that I've joined. Our identities are far more than our names, and I strongly believe when you join a family there's no loss, your identity gains another dimension. Your story builds.
In my opinion, all that matters is that there's a reasoned discussion about any name change, it should never be assumed. If it was the other way around and my family-name hadn't been passed down already and his had, I would have told him to change his name and I believe he would have somewhat uncomfortably agreed. If we were both only children, I would have suggested we went for the double-barrel or a new mixed-up name. To be honest, if our names had blended better when we shoved them together, I would have opted for that—but they didn't and that's ok.
To be a feminist, you don't have to hold onto your name or reject a proposal for fear of perpetuating antiquated stereotypes and traditions. You won't lose yourself by being with a man. You deserve to have a choice, be aware of what you're signing up for, and have an equal conversation about all aspects of the commitment and decide what it means to you in your circumstance. If we are going to get judged as modern women for choosing to change or not change our names, I want to know why our men aren't getting a ribbing for holding onto theirs?