Only read Thoughtcatalog when you want to be dumber

So don’t read this link to an article titled 15 Men React To The Idea Of Taking Their Wife’s Last Name After Marriage, in which 15 men who are almost certainly as real as the guys writing in to Penthouse Forum give their reasons. One sample should be enough:

“If hoards of men started taking their wives’ surnames, it would be an unfortunate and perhaps irreversible step towards a matriarchal goddess culture, which blows for guys because those cultures used to routinely kill male infants and treat males like slaves. In a world where there are already very few incentives for men to get legally shackled, this is one slippery slope I wouldn’t want to slide down.”

I want to believe that that is intentional irony. I’m afraid that it isn’t.


  1. dianne says

    I don’t know…it’s way overblown, but I kind of agree with him. That’s why I’m not married to my partner of 20 years and don’t use his last name: I don’t want to go back towards the patriarchal world where female babies were exposed and women treated like slaves.

  2. says

    Oh for fuck’s sake. What about Spanish naming conventions? As far as I know, matriarchal lineage hasn’t resulted in the Amazonian takeover of the world.

    Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin received special dispensation from the French government on his marriage to Josèphe Cecile Houdin to use a hyphenated surname. That was July 8, 1830.

  3. Alteredstory says

    Are there any actual examples of a “matriarchal goddess culture” of the kind described?

    I’ve heard of matriarchal cultures, but not of any where men are enslaved and baby boys are killed…

  4. says

    step towards a matriarchal goddess culture, which blows for guys because those cultures used to routinely kill male infants and treat males like slaves

    When I read Sheri Tepper’s “The Gate to Women’s Country” I thought, “hey, this could work!”

  5. dianne says

    @5: Projection. It’s what the boys did when they had all the power so he’s just assuming that it would work the same way if women were in charge.

  6. Dreaming of an Atheistic Newtopia says

    @4 Caine
    But that’s only because the paternal surname takes precedence over the maternal one. Some people have taken to creating composites of the two parental surnames as the first surname of their offspring, sometimes even with the maternal surname first! I expect to be devoured by locusts any day now.

  7. gregmusings says

    That’s funny to read. After 15 years of marriage, I’m about to change name to my wife’s last name. I’ve always been jealous of how short hers is. I don’t worry for a second that we’ll start exposing male babies on hilltops.

  8. Big Boppa says

    I actually gave serious thought to changing to my wife’s surname before we were married (43 years ago this February). My family name is very common – there are currently almost 28,000 of us in the US alone as opposed to only 1100 world wide with my wife’s surname. ~Source for above: In our home town there are only 3 left (my wife, her sister and their elderly uncle).

    In the end I didn’t do it because my father was very hurt when I told him about it. Sometimes I think I should have done it though.

  9. Big Boppa says


    Are there any actual examples of a “matriarchal goddess culture”…

    Only one I can think of is Paradise Island (Wonder Woman comics).

  10. Becca Stareyes says

    Big Boppa @ 11

    But they didn’t keep adult men as slaves or leave male infants to die, because there were no men on Paradise Island*. So therefore I conclude that matriarchal goddess cultures will just settle tropical islands and keep to themselves, with the occasional superpowered emissary to ‘Man’s World’.

    * DC may have changed this, because comics.

  11. Big Boppa says

    Becca @13

    You are correct, of course. That’s why I cut off the original question from Alteredstory where I did.

  12. says

    I chuckled as I read Berliet’s fifteen “reactions”

    The first commenter notes that the fifteen listed reactions have a “cherry picked sort of stench” after offering to:

    carve my SO’s name into my own penis with a razor if this was literally the answers of only 15 men asked.

    I’m not willing to raise the stakes on that front, personally, but I couldn’t help think that the “reactions” read, with one or two possible exceptions, very much like only one person composed them.

  13. whheydt says

    My son did it…differently. His wife is an actress, with the usual financial problems of starting out in the field. So my son (who could afford it) changed his name to her stage name before they were married and then (free and easily) she changed her name to that stage name after they were married.

  14. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    even if cherry picked, still, 15 is way too many. should be Zero (ideally).

  15. quotetheunquote says

    ‘Elijah’ at #12 is rather special:

    “Listen, I’m a feminist. But we have to draw the line somewhere. Equal rights shouldn’t come at the cost of upending all established conventions. Why get married at all if you don’t want to embrace the related traditions?”

    Newsflash, dude: No, you’re not.

  16. unclefrogy says

    As I have learned as a result of the controversy over same sex marriage the purpose marriage in regards the law was to clarify the legal rights and responsibilities of the parties, property and inheritance since Roman times. Then other things grew out of that like medical issues and visitation.
    I would have to say that the name change thing is directly related to property rights and inheritance.
    It is a legal thing, isn’t called the marriage contract for that very reason?
    If the parties want to agree to some other specifics in their contract it is kind of up to them isn’t?
    Many people never enter into any marriage contract at all, others enter into it for the specific reasons of formalizing the property and medical and tax issues involved in two people living together.
    names are an accident of history, we are mostly given them by someone we seldom name ourselves or earn them as we ourselves live. Why not?
    some people really have trouble with change and difference.
    uncle frogy

  17. says

    Someone should tell these people that not all cultures have wives take their husbands’ family names upon marriage. Korea is one example where women retain their family name. In modern Quebec women retain their birth names, and getting your last name changed to that of your spouse is generally difficult to do. As far as husbands taking their wives’ surnames occasionally men in Japan will do so if there is no male heir to the wife’s family.

  18. numerobis says

    In modern Quebec women retain their birth names, and getting your last name changed to that of your spouse is generally difficult to do

    It’s not that hard to mostly change your name upon marriage, but by the same token, most government services go by your maiden name. I don’t know exactly how that works for husbands who change their name to match their spouse’s.

    My mother kept her name. When my sister was born, I was mightily confused that she would have the same last name as me — clearly, since I was named after my father, she should be named after our mother, right?

  19. says

    My wife took my last name, but that was mostly because she hated her last name (a decent name, but one that got mispronounced all of the time). Ultimately, though, the choice was hers. If a relationship can’t survive something as simple as a name change, either direction, or lack thereof… perhaps there are other things you should be examining about it.

  20. Michael says

    I had a debate with my ex when it came to the last name of our children. Unfortunately I didn’t have much more than tradition on my side. I could argue that boys could take their father’s name since the Y chromosome is carried down the paternal lineage. I could also argue that the maternal name should take precedence since you can’t guarantee who your father is, but you can guarantee who your mother is, and all your cell organelles are from the maternal line. In the end we hyphenated, although I don’t really care for that idea as where does it end? (If a person with a hyphenated name marries someone with a hyphenated name…)

  21. says

    I saw this article a while ago, and I did indeed think it was intentional irony–on the part of the author, not on the part of the people being quoted. I could test this hypothesis by looking at the author’s other articles to get a sense of how progressive she is. I was about to do that when I decided I just didn’t care what the author thinks.

  22. magista says

    Huh. Can I have a hoard of men?

    On topic: I kept my name. Husband never expected otherwise.

  23. Anri says

    Both of us kept our names. We liked the way our names sounded with our original last names (possibly only from familiarity, but still) and didn’t especially care for the way our names sounded with our partner’s names. It does occasionally give us trouble (although it’s terrific for screening out clueless cold-callers “Can I speak to Mrs XYZ?” “There’s no-one here by that name.” heh heh heh), but I’m happy to report not nearly as much trouble as we had been anticipating.

    If our names had sounded better with either surname, we would have made the change. I toyed with the idea of a hyphenated name, but my spouse gave that the pretension-deflating belly laugh it deserved on our case. It works for some folks, wouldn’t have worked for us.

  24. Erp says

    It wasn’t unheard of in older English history and usually for patrilineal (or appearance of patrilineal) property reason (e.g., the wife was an heiress and her father insisted on the name adoption). A man might also take his mother’s maiden name if her childless brother made him his heir (this happened to one of my ancestor’s brothers circa 1800).

  25. dianne says

    (If a person with a hyphenated name marries someone with a hyphenated name…

    Take the woman’s matrilineal name and the man’s patrilineal name. Unless you like the other name better. Then use that instead. Anyway, get one name from each and you’re good.

  26. says

    When you dig into it, they’re all mens’ names in the end, whether those of our fathers or our husbands. My friend changed her name completely, made up a matrilineal name. It bothers me that I can’t pick a name out of my ancestry that came from a matrilineal place.

  27. says

    Ultimately, they’re all kind of arbitrary when you go far enough back. My ancestors from Norway were named Westad (or Vestad) when they immigrated, not because they actually used that name (your surname was father’s name+son, or father’s name+dottir), but because when asked where they were from, they said “west farm”.

  28. methuseus says

    My wife took my name for tradition reasons. We have toyed with changing both our names to her maiden name as well since tradition was literally the only reason for her to take my name, and we really aren’t all that traditional anyway.

  29. Menyambal - Jabba the Hutt's Pa says

    My first wife kept her name, because it was her professional name. It was also her ex-husband’s name, which felt kinda odd. But that marriage didn’t last, so it was kinda moot.

    My second wife was also known professionally by her ex’s name, but she changed to mine. I hadn’t asked or even expected that, especially since it left her child stranded, so to speak.

    I recall a wedding where they were discussing hyphenating the names. I suggested an amalgamation of the two last names (like Brangelina, way back before that was a thing), and even came up with a good one. They all liked the name, but not the idea, I guess.

    ——– kept her own name in 1855 was founded in 1921

    “Lucy Stoner” was in the dictionaries

    Lucy Stoner: “I simply can’t marry him. My last name is already the same as his.”


    Guy: “Oh, Darling, I’d do anything for you!”

    Gal: “Would you quit your job, change your name, and move to another city?”

  30. says

    Honored First Wife kept hers, cause it’s her name. I’ve no right or expectation that anyone should change the name they have had their whole life just because we signed a contract.*

    *Thats what we tell people that ask. The real reason is HFW just didn’t feel like filling out all of the paper work and getting everything changed seemed like too much trouble. :)

  31. Bob Foster says

    Many American Indian societies were matriarchal. The child belonged to the mother’s clan. A boy’s name could be something like Owl Boy of the Wolf Clan. I kind of like it. I wouldn’t mind being Bob of The Wolf Clan.

  32. says

    dianne @7-

    Yup, it’s the constant fear of the oppressor, that they might one day be treated how they have treated the most marginalized. And every time, the marginalized have not done so, instead offering olive branches when gaining rights that the oppressors usually use to try and recreate some of the systems of oppression that they have lost.

  33. says

    unclefrogy @19-

    I would have to say that the name change thing is directly related to property rights and inheritance.

    Indeed, in that women used to be property inherited from father to husband or rather purchased from father to husband. That it is still considered to be an important social tradition demanding pressure on new wives is demonstrative of the longevity of toxic ideas long past their abusive origins.

  34. Crimson Clupeidae says

    I took my wife’s last name when we got married. It was easier, both to spell, and because most things were in her name anyway.

    It’s been almost 20 years, and no BOOM!

    …there’s always a boom tomorrow.

  35. says

    Lol, tradition. Which one? Oh, right, the “tradition” that wiped out all other other different traditions in most places. Bureaucracies don’t help a lot in that regard, either.

    The surname thing baffled me, somehow, since i was little. I would totally take a married name if she didn’t mind, or we could come up with a new one. You know, whichever government permitting. @@