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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