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Chelsea Clinton or Chelsea Mezvinsky? What’s in a Name?

Chelsea Clinton or Chelsea Mezvinsky? What’s in a Name?

Chelsea Victoria Clinton, the only daughter of Hillary and Bill Clinton, is getting married on Saturday in Rhinebeck, New York. That’s not news; indeed, early rumors had it that the 30-year-old already married her long-time boyfriend, Marc Mezvinsky, last summer.

Will Chelsea take her husband’s name?

But while Chelsea-watchers are savoring details of the nuptials as they emerge, there is one piece of information yet to be revealed: what will Chelsea’s married name be? On July 27, The Daily Beast published an interesting piece by Samuel P. Jacobs: Will Chelsea Change Her Name? While pondering this question, Jacobs examined the past history of presidential daughters (most have kept their name, in either middle or last place), and also delved into the story of mother-of-the-bride Hillary Rodham Clinton. “I learned the hard way that some voters in Arkansas were seriously offended that I kept my maiden name,” Hillary wrote in her memoir, “…I was an oddity because of my dress, my Northern ways, and the use of my maiden name.” And so she became Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Let’s get real here. Whatever name the bride decides on, she is already a well-known public figure, and her name isn’t going to change that. It can, however, send a clear message.

Taking your husband’s name sends the wrong message

As someone who did not change her name when she got married, I am hoping that Ms. Clinton sticks with Chelsea Victoria Clinton. I had lots of reasons for sticking to my so-called “maiden name.” I had witnessed what happened to my sister, who went from Jane Molland to Mrs. Peter Huxham. I didn’t want to be swallowed up like that. Further, adopting my new husband’s name implied that I would become a piece of his property. It also bothered me that I knew of no man who had changed his name to his wife’s name. Why was that? Finally, as a published writer, I needed to keep my professional identity.

Not all Care2 bloggers feel the same way; check out Jessica Pieklo’s blog today for a different perspective.

Ironically, in some cases it made no difference. Numerous people, including my own sister and my godmother insisted on calling me by my husband’s name anyway. “Mrs. means that you’re the mistress of his house, the way it should be,” she explained archly.

But most women do still change their names

When Hillary and Bill married in 1975, between 2 and 4 percent of brides kept their maiden names. Surprisingly, not that much has changed.  A 2007 survey by The Knot, a popular wedding site, found that among 18,000 couples asked about name-changing plans, nearly 9 out of 10 of the women planned to take their spouse’s name. And in 2009, a university survey found 71 percent of respondents “agreed it is better for women to change their name upon marriage.”

Name changes for husband and wife

Personally, I like the idea of bride and groom deciding between their two names which one they prefer. After all, the Napoleonic code dictating that a husband owned his wife is history, and the notion that a woman should take her husband’s name also belongs in the past. Or here’s another option: Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villar married Corina Raigosa, and became Antonio Villaraigosa.

I wonder what Marc wants?

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155 comments

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2:40AM PDT on Oct 17, 2010

It is a personal decision, however, Clinton is such a powerful name as such in this instance, if it were me, I would keep my name.

3:21AM PDT on Aug 10, 2010

"Marc Clinton" has a nice ring to it.

1:32PM PDT on Aug 8, 2010

It's a personal decision. If I marry a man, will I take his name? It depends on the name. I would like a mutual decision to take place, in which we both discuss which name we should have, or if we can combine and/or hyphenate the names. I intend to fully change my name anyway, mostly because my last name ties me to my father whom I don't want to have any remote connection to, and I also just dislike my first name, so changing the name isn't a big deal to me, but no one should be pressured to change it because of patriarchal rules set in an age when women were still viewed as objects.

2:18PM PDT on Aug 3, 2010

sounds like a personal issue

1:14PM PDT on Aug 3, 2010

why can't you become one with your husband by taking the new name and still be the bold women that you are. My husband leaned right away that I am not property, but together we are a fierce team. We married the way God intended us to, not the way we intended to. I tried hyphenation for a while due to my profession. Still at year 10 I dealt with much confusion with others. It was easier when i just used my married name. Everyone knew I was still me with benifits!

7:41AM PDT on Aug 3, 2010

I don't feel it matters who takes what name. In this day and age, many women are in professions before they marry, and become known professionally by their maiden name, such as doctors, politicians, authors, etc. Since the public already knows them by one name it makes sense that they don't want to change it just because they get married. A name change in this instance could cause confusion for the public. I was questioned often in school by children wanting to know why my step sister and brothers had a different last name. This was very difficult for me because I didn't know how to answer. My step father never adopted me, so I had to keep my mother's maiden name which was on my birth certificate. So, when I married many many years ago, I was more than happy to take my husband's name because of the unhappy childhood associated with my maiden name. When I divorced, I kept my married name because I had a child and felt it would be less confusing for her if we both had the same last name. I didn't want her to have to explain the name differences. If there are no extenuating circumstances, such as in my case, I don't feel it really matters what name is used. However, I know many men who are highly insulted when their new wife doesn't want to change her name to his. I believe this shows insecurity on the part of the husband. He wants the world to know this woman belongs to him. This could indicate problems in other areas of the relationship.

2:39AM PDT on Aug 3, 2010

When will we find out? I hope she stays Clinton.

6:48PM PDT on Aug 2, 2010

It is a personal issue. Taking the name of the person you love is what . . . a name! You are still you, no matter what you go by. Personal, married, individual, it is still you and the one you have chosen to share your life with. Enjoy each other, and stop worrying about who takes whose name!

4:28PM PDT on Aug 2, 2010

it is personal

4:03PM PDT on Aug 2, 2010

First off, kudos to Chelsea for including vegan food at her wedding!
Secondly, I hope she does not take her husband's last name. I know I certainly won't - I would never give into archaic social customs meant to oppress women.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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