Stacy Ann Ferguson’s days are limited. The 38-year old singer better known as Fergie has filed a petition to legally change her name to Fergie Duhamel. Duhamel is of course, her husband, actor Josh Duhamel’s last name. The couple is expecting their first child together this summer.
This story has made headlines and made me wonder: is this a new trend? Will more female celebrities take their hubby’s surname? Earlier this year, Beyoncé deemed herself “Mrs. Carter,” and it has been reported that Jennifer Aniston will take her fiancée, Justin Theroux’s, last name after they wed.
What does this mean for feminism? I think it’s safe to say that Fergie, Bey, and Jen are an exception; these powerhouse women are equally, if not more successful than their partners. However, if these women are successful in their own right, does taking their husband’s last name forfeit some of that power?
And what about us regular gals? As a recently engaged feminist and Women’s Studies grad, I’ve contemplated the idea of one day taking my man’s last name. Although most of us choose to do so (a whopping ninety percent!) for the sake of traditionalism, unity, and a show of devotion, let’s not forget the original reason why women have taken their husband’s names since forever. Back in the day, when a woman wed, her legal identity became consumed by her husband's. Marriage was like a trade, and women were the property, as a father gave his daughter to her husband. A woman taking her husband's last name can be viewed as yet another way for men to subtly control women.
Still, I'm not so sure that I want to be known as Ms. Maya Perry for the rest of my life. So, what are my options?
In March of this year, Jill Filipovic, a columnist for The Guardian, suggested that men take their wife’s last name. You would have thought that she was telling people to kill their first-born!
Some people suggest hyphenation. Remember how Craig Robinson’s character in Hot Tub Time Machine was ridiculed for taking his wife’s last name?
I’ve even heard of couples creating a hybrid of their surnames or creating a new last name altogether!
I believe the power comes from actively deciding for yourself whether you want to take your partner’s name. Seriously consider why you are making that choice and embrace it. Don’t just do something because it’s the status quo.
Honestly, I could go the Fergie route and make my last name my first and just add on the Mister’s. Perry Hill has a ring to it, don’t you think?