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Changing your name after marriage is sexist - so why do many women still do it?

What's in a name?

Obviously nothing of importance if so many women are prepared to ditch theirs in order to please the bloke of their dreams.

The artist formerly known as Cheryl Cole is the latest in a long line of women who appear perfectly happy to sacrifice their identity to whatever man they happened to have recently walked down the aisle with.

The Girls Aloud and former X-Factor star has just announced that she will henceforth be known to her fans as Ms Fernandez-Versini, following her recent marriage to a French gentleman of that name.

Now, while I'm delighted that the lovely Cheryl has once again found happiness in marriage, I have to say I'm baffled by the name change.

Her first change from Cheryl Tweedy to Cheryl Cole was more understandable, because the alliteration sounded so much better for a pop stars name, but Fernadez-Versini?

Doesn't exactly roll of the tongue, does it?


But then, I'm always amazed when any woman decides to change her name to another person's purely because she happens to be married to him.

When I wed the current Mr Hunt (not his real name) back in the last century the thought of changing my name to his never once crossed my mind.

Why should it? I wasn't a piece of property that he was buying.

Haven't we gotten over the old misogynist tradition which insisted that women were firstly the property of their fathers until they married - when they became the property of their husbands who purchased them with a dowry?

Yes we have - so why do so many women still sacrifice their "maiden" name (in itself a grossly sexist term, of course) for a "married" one?

"Because everybody expects you to do it," wailed an elderly aunt to me.

As if that was ever a decent reason to do anything.

"But no-one will know that you're actually married," said an anxious single friend who was rather more devoted to the idea of bagging a husband than I thought was strictly healthy in an intelligent woman.

"Because it shows that you love him," said another helpfully - as if the fact that I was going to stand in front of a multitude of friends and relatives and swear to stay with him 'til death do us part" wasn't enough evidence.

And the reason that really got my back up?

"Because he will expect you to change it, every man does!" Well, perhaps not all, but certainly a sizeable majority.

A report last year in Men's Health magazine found that two thirds of men would be "very upset" if their wives didn't take their names when they married.

And yet a whopping 96pc said, that even if their wives asked, they wouldn't dream of taking the women's name and adding it to theirs.

Now, if that's not sexist, selfish and self-centred, I don't know what is.

It's yet another of the insidious ways we are reminded that we are lesser beings.

Because, no matter what Cheryl may think, taking a bloke's name just because he expects you to isn't romantic, it's just old-fashioned sexism.

But even the few women that I know who stood their ground and kept their own name when they married capitulated when it came to their kids.

Most children today have their father's name only, as if they sprang fully formed from his left rib and the poor mammy had nothing to do with it.

"But it's so pretentious," was what I was told when I eventually insisted that both of mine would be that awful compromise - the double-barrelled surname.


I know, I know, I've been told how unfair it is to saddle a child with two surnames instead of just one, but bottom line?

They are my children and a part of my Hunt family heritage so I was damn well determined that they would have my name. And as their father wanted them to have his also, we agreed to give them both.

Seriously, what's the big deal? When they're older they can ditch one or other of them if they so choose.

So, brides-to-be, make a principled stand for equality-of-the-sexes and hang onto your name.

Better still, get him to change his to yours. Jean-Bernard Tweedy anyone?