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July 20, 2015

What’s In a Name?

Debate has been rife lately over the age-old practice of adopting the male surname. In a world that grows ever more liberal and politically correct, women are struggling with how to define themselves once they get hitched. Is this lingering tradition a universally recognised symbol of family, or is it just patriarchal poppycock?

No doubt due to Ronan’s imminent nuptials to a younger model, Yvonne Keating recently reverted to her maiden name Connolly. (Seriously, second wife? Have these women never heard Life Is a Rollercoaster?) This begs the question: if marriage tends not to be for life these days, is the name change worth it? Obviously, it’s not desirable to be in the white meringue dress saying “I won’t take your name just in case we do split up”, but it is worth a second thought.

Apparently, the latest celebrity faux pas is calling Cheryl Cole by her old moniker. I know I am biased in my dislike for the woman, but what does she expect? Unless you flip through Heat magazine every week, it’s hard for the general public to keep up. You don’t get to change from Tweedy to Cole to ‘just Cheryl’ back to Cole to Fernandez-Versini and expect the world to adjust accordingly. Maybe next time, don’t add six syllables and we’ll jump right on board.

I like my name. It is my identity, my connection to my past and my lineage. I don’t think I would feel fully myself if I were to change it. My underdeveloped romantic gene causes me to bypass the lovely gesture and think practically; imagine the hassle of changing all my cards and online accounts? Sorry, future husband, but I want to remain true to Visa and my Bebo page.

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This brings us to the dreaded double-barrelled name. Fine if you’re Andrew Lloyd Webber, not so fine if you’re Séamus O’Sullivan-Fitzpatrick. (If you exist and are reading this, I apologise.) And what happens if a double-barrelled child marries another double-barrelled child? Is a quadruple-barrelled name even permitted by law?

The Catholic Church would probably string me up for blasphemy against the sacred family structure, but do kids really care? I think they would much prefer a singular surname, be it maternal or paternal, than lugging around the weight of their parents’ indecision. Likewise, I doubt their childhood will be marred by the fact that *shock horror* Mammy’s last name is different.

At the end of the day, it’s your decision and there is no wrong one as long as you choose it for yourself. You don’t have to be a raving feminist or a staunch conservative to select your own identity. Might have to draw the line at Princess Consuela Banana Hammock, though.