amal-cover

DEAR MRS CLOONEY

Dear Amal Alamuddin,

I know it’s none of my business, but why, why, WHY, in 2014, would you take your husband’s name?

Perhaps I’m a just an old-fashioned feminist, but it’s an implied agreement of ownership.

The legal concept of coverture, which came from England in the 19th century, is based on a woman becoming the property of her husband upon marriage.

Let me make this clear: as a human rights lawyer you are giving up a fundamental human right.

You’re an appendage, an accoutrement, a chattel: Mrs. Clooney. And I thought progressives were supposed to be – well – progressive…?

What’s worse is the change in your business name, ditching Alamuddin on the Doughty Street Chambers website.

Effectively, instead of Amal Alamuddin, barrister, you are now Amal Clooney, actor’s wife.

You see, words matter: your name is your identity.

Millions of column centimeters have been devoted to the prospect of George becoming known as your husband, rather than you as his wife.

The glossies boasted of a brave new world, where a smart and sassy career woman landed Hollywood’s most confirmed bachelor.

But the shine has worn off. These tarnished pages are now filled with the voices of yesteryear.

Here are some snippets of retro-sexism, courtesy of the Daily Mail:ENTERTAINMENT-US-FILM-CLOONEY-BRITAIN-LEBANON-PEOPLE

“How else is she going to cash in if she didn’t change her name?”

“I think it’s quite impressive that she’s gone back to her job with full commitment so soon after the wedding. She doesn’t have to work if she doesn’t want to but clearly enjoys her job.”

“Of course she would take his last name – doors will open much quicker in her professional career and everywhere else too.”

People with brains the size of peas think you married him for his money. And you can’t wait to quit work to become a human handbag. Or, you need his last name to smash through the glass ceiling.

This is your new narrative.

While some fourth wave feminists think taking a man’s name, dressing up in 50s gear to do the housework, and fixing him a G&T at the end of the day is ‘cute’, ‘kitsch’ and ‘fun’, IT’S F*CKING NOT.

Your mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers fought long and hard to stop this shit.

If it’s so great, why aren’t men taking our names, doing more housework, and making us drinks…?

Sure, it’s empowering to have choices. But, please, use this power wisely: we’re on the verge of a backlash.

According to recent research, women who don’t take their husbands names are considered to be less committed to their marriage.

Well, where’s the research on men who refuse to take their wives names…? Apparently, that’s a moot point.

parthenon-marblesAnyway, I’m sure you’re far too busy helping Greece win back the Parthenon Marbles to read this letter.

However, there’s are several ironies in your quest:

*The British Museum stole the marbles in the 19th century, around the same time men started stealing women’s names.

*The Museum says it did so because they couldn’t trust the Greeks; men say they did so because women couldn’t be trusted with property.

*Greece enacted a law in 1983 that all women must keep their birth names.  Now, young men don’t ask their girlfriends whether they’re going to keep their surname – it’s a given.

With all due respect, by making this decision it appears you have lost your marbles.

Yours sincerely,

A concerned feminist.

 

Tracey-Spicer12-11*Tracey Spicer’s 25 year career spans television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and online media. She has anchored news, current affairs and lifestyle programs in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Currently, Tracey works as an anchor for Sky News, weekly columnist for Fairfax Media and The Hoopla, radio broadcaster, and presentation trainer at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. She is best known for presenting Channel 10’s national weekend and morning news services for 14 years. Tracey has written, produced and presented documentaries for NGOs in Bangladesh, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, and India, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation in Australia. The mother-of-two is an Ambassador for ActionAid, World Vision, Life’s Little Treasures, Karitane, and Dying with Dignity, Patron of the NSW Cancer Council and the National Premmie Foundation, and face of the Garvan Institute’s research into pancreatic cancer. The 46-year-old is the convenor of Women in Media, a mentoring and networking group, backed by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance. Visit Tracey’s website at www.spicercommunications.biz or follow her on Twitter @spicertracey.

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99 Comments

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Tony

    My wife took my name. I didn’t ask her to or expect it. She says she wanted a new start and wasn’t to enamored with hers after her father walked out on the family when she was two.
    I have 4 sisters, half of which have kept their surnames for a variety of reasons(of which I won’t go into) the other half have adopted their husbands names, all are strong independent women who have forged enviable careers and social profiles in their own right. For the people, man and woman, in my life at least it is their individual actions that define them more-so than their names. I tend to agree with your general argument but will always maintain the pro-choice stance. 🙂

    • Reply October 15, 2014

      Dianna

      Tony, your wife could’ve taken her mother’s ‘maiden’ name – oh, wait that was her grandfather’s surname and if he was a tool as well… maybe she could… no… out of ideas.

    • Reply October 15, 2014

      Judy

      The argument ‘each to their own’ logically means anyone can do and think what they like on the basis that it was their choice. Such blithe justifications for an individual’s actions wipe out the fact that we can be wrong, that things might need to change and the fact that women who have fought and suffered in the feminist struggle should be respected and honoured. Yes there are other angles and issues here, but the basic point is that she has dropped part of her identity for his and as a successful professional woman, I agree that she could have taken a lead here.

      • Reply October 17, 2014

        Rhonda

        It isn’t wrong at all and you aren’t the authority, in any manner, to make the claim that it is. How dare you have the audacity (and don’t get me started on how unfortunate this makes your life look) to attempt to insert yourself into the lives of two people that mean utterly nothing to the scheme of your existence.

        It is reasons such as this that actual and reasonable change fails to take place and makes anyone who calls themselves a feminist immediately be preconceived as a radical zealot who either has been jaded one too many times based on their own inadequacy, does not take care of themselves and simply isn’t desired only to blame others for it and/or someone who needs to look for a new line of work.

        Perhaps that is why you find yourself writing for “thehoopla” and not something that is worth even the slightest bit in terms of attention & media (be it social or otherwise). You are not helping and, if anything, have made women look unfathomably worse by not taking into account the choice of other people and their desire to handle their life as they see fit. I cannot believe I am about to say these words as I have never used them in my life but you, truly, are an embarrassment to every woman who has ever fought for equality be it in the past or currently.

    • Reply October 18, 2014

      Laura

      Dear Tracey,

      You are exactly the type of person who gives feminism a bad name. Feminism, at its core, is about giving women CHOICES, not forcing others to make the same choices as you. Judging one woman for making the choice that was best for her gives the impression that feminists are angry, negative, and exclusionary.

      Shaming Amal for not being the spokesperson you want her to be is truly anti-feminist. Can you imagine how you would feel if someone wrote an article about how you’ve let all women down because of a personal choice in your life? Amal DID NOT let all women down by conforming to tradition. It is important for all of us to be accepting of the choices other people make for themselves, even when that isn’t that same choice you would make for yourself.

    • Reply October 18, 2014

      Mo

      Who care what her name is. Let the woman decide for herself what she wants. That’s the whole point of feminism…to not do simply what other big groups of people tell you what you SHOULD do, but to make your own choice.

    • Reply October 21, 2014

      Meredith

      I completely agree with a lot of the criticisms toward this article and how it is ultimately the woman’s choice. Your reasoning can be anything, and you don’t have to justify it to anyone. One could really just dislike the sound of their last name for all I care.

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    monica

    Must say, I don’t think dumping your surname for your husband’s is at all anti feminist. There could be any number of reasons she has chosen to do this, none of them to subjugate yourself to a man – and nor are we not entitled to know. Nor does it mean she is any less an independent, intelligent, strident, talented woman living her life on her own terms, not the man she married. I didn’t change my name but I don’t deny other women their desire to do so. And I certainly don’t think women who do so are any less a feminist than me. We don’t all have to march in one line to call ourselves feminists.

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Rhoda

    Maybe he’s needy? Maybe she just wanted to be Mrs Clooney?

    I’ve done a bit of research on the family tree and notice that back more than a century ago even the poorest of married women often retained their own family name by handing it onto their children. In one family I know every child was given it as a second name but more usually it was the eldest. None of this Apple Ann Clooney. More like Apple Alumuddin Clooney.

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Anne

    Tracey, I am with you 100%. As young women going into the legal profession quite some decades ago, it was not a question whether to change our names if we married. We just simply were not going to and we didn’t. And I personally saw that doing so succumbed to the ‘property right’ perspective. So to see a successful professional lawyer changing her name immediately upon a high-profile marriage is a total anathema and throwback. And George let her do it. Speaks volumes about his perspective on respective marital status. Loss of a great opportunity by both them to be role models for modern marriage.

    • Reply October 15, 2014

      liz

      And you are appalled that “GEORGE LET HER DO IT”, eh?
      It was HER choice!

      • Reply October 18, 2014

        joe

        Wow Anne, I can’t believe it you’re so bigoted !

    • Reply October 15, 2014

      Bob

      Youve got serious issues. I wouldnt let you be my lawyer.

    • Reply October 30, 2014

      Rach

      ‘Let her do it’! I’m pretty damn sure that none of us know what conversation went on in regards to her changing her surname but I would put a large bet on her doing whatever SHE wanted to do. You ‘personally’ have no idea about her choice. There is no loss here whatsoever and I am so sad and angry that you think they have failed at being role models because of her choice.

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    DW

    I changed my name. I was and am a successful lawyer and I was in my 40s when I married. It was my choice. My husband never asked me to do so, never expected me to do so to do so. My stepchildren were happy that I did so, and my family didn’t care – I had no children of my own. It was my choice and I exercised it. It was a bother in many ways, but I – and it was entirely my choice – wanted to feel that we were a family, with one family name. My surname never meant much to me; it was just what I was called. You may disagree with that choice, and believe me, I’ve had to defend it from people (women) who somehow felt it was ‘unfeminist’. And for the record I am a strong feminist, practicing law from the 1980s when it was a strongly male-dominated profession and having to cope with real prejudice. Changing my name is irrelevant to those feminist beliefs – it’s just a name for goodness sake! Please don’t try to impose your values, your views on me or other women who chose to do as I did.

    • Reply October 18, 2014

      joe

      That was a great answer !
      Too bad the insecure person who wrote this article can’t see past her bigotry !

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Sue Bell

    Saw a large survey recently where men were asked if they would take their partners name. Some ninety something percent of men said they would not change their name as it a vital part of their identity but they expected their partners to take their name.
    When we look at myth, legend and fair tales we see the incredible importance of names, think of Rumplestiltskin, often real names in these stories are kept secret as they have so much power. T.S. Elliot’s “Old Possums Book of Practical Cats”(since turned into the musical Cats) has a poem in it on the importance of cats secret names.
    Taking a spouses name indicates his ownership of the woman. I never changed my name when I married in the early 70s and it was extremely difficult to cope with the rage and aggression shown towards me by doctors, bankers, work colleagues and another person that wanted to put down women. Reclaim the night, reclaim your name. Of course couples could chose another name altogether that has nothing to do with their marital status but again most men find that very threatening. Should add I have never worn a wedding ring as it was another sign of being owned, it is only in the last couple of decades that men have really started to wear rings.

    • Reply October 30, 2014

      Rach

      Sue YOU believe it indicates ownership.

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Mrs T

    Your name isn’t your identity! It might be part of it but your identity is about who you are as a person. In a professional sense it is about what you have accomplished. If you are worried that by changing your name from one thing to another (for whatever reason) means “no-one will know who I am” then you mustn’t have a strong identity to begin with.
    I took my husbands last name because I wanted us (& our future children) to have that common link but it was my choice. I didn’t lose credit for all the things I had achieved.
    Also I don’t get the passion about keeping a name that is your fathers name only – doesn’t that just play out the same so called anti-feminist thinking as taking someone else’s name?!
    Tracey I normally love your work but on this one I completely disagree!

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Joh

    For the first time I disagree with you and am now disappointed. I thought that women were fighting for equal rights? So I should have the bloody right to choose to keep my surname or take my partners – it’s MY CHOICE!
    With three daughters, I fight for them to have equal rights, a voice, and to feel empowered to be whatever they want to be, every single day of our lives together.
    Personally I think I am a bloody awesome woman, partner and mum! If my girls get married, it will be their choice whether or not they change their surname or not – their choice! Not mine and not another man OR woman’s choice?
    If you think I am less of a feminist because I took my husbands surname, come and meet me – I’ll change your mind! People take their partners name for many reasons. Who are you to judge?
    Oh and one more thought, why would you even talk about men taking their wives names when you bag out women who don’t? What kind of example are you setting?
    I have friends who took on their husbands name and friends who took on their wife’s name, friends who hyphenated and friends who kept their own. Most are every day people, some are well known and a couple are famous, it makes no difference! Good on all of them and each to their own!

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Vicki

    One of the main reasons prisoners of war got called/tattooed with a number was to remove their dignity and respect by not using their name. Of course your name is a very important part of your history and identity. I agree there are people who are not that attached to their name and happily change it. I couldn’t do it myself however. I think changing names leads to a lot more weird scenarios that not changing. My mother has been divorced for over 20 years. She still keeps her married name as she was that name for more years than her maiden name. My partner thought that was a bit strange. I say it’s her name now and she can do what she wants with it. A parent at my children’s school has been married twice and divorced twice. The address list keeps getting reissued every time she changes her name back and forth. She has now settled on the name of her children (first husband’s surname). I hope she is less confused than I am. I am with you Tracey on this one. People should still have a choice but I can’t think why you would choose to do it in this day and age especially given the historic reasons for doing it.

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Adam

    With respect Tracy, what a load of crock! It’s called personal choice and it’s not for you or anyone to judge. Personally I have no opinion one why or the other. I’ve been engaged for 12 years, have 2 kids with my partner and not sure if we’ll ever get married. But if/when we do it’s OUR choice for one of us to change or not change our name(s). You seem less a concerned feminist and moreover someone who reads too much into too little. I know a couple recently married, she took his name, he is the stay-at-home husband with kids, she is the career bread winner. There are all sorts of configurations and a decision for someone to take their partner’s surname could be considered to be entirely romantic and a sign of their loving bond. Not to say others who keep their names can’t/don’t have as strong a bond. My point is IT’S A CHOICE and not something for you or anyone else to use for their own misguided crusade. For crying out loud, with respect, GROW UP!

    • Reply October 15, 2014

      Lucy Clark

      Adam, just out of curiosity, do you know any men who have changed their names to their wife’s surname? Yes it’s a choice, but largely it’s a choice that only women make. Why is that? It’s very interesting…
      Cheers
      Lucy Clark
      Editor.

      • Reply October 15, 2014

        Haki

        I know one. I also know of at least two couples in which both people changed their names — including one that changed their names to a completely different third name that had nothing to do with either of them. Guess what? All valid choices.

        Honestly, if men were subjecting this woman’s life to the kind of scrutiny women are, people like Ms Spicer would be tearing those men apart for their sexist sense of “entitlement” in judging her life while knowing nothing about her or why she’s done the things she’s done. There would be much touting of her accomplishments and many accusations that jealous men hated to see her so successful and were trying to tear her down with their criticism. But women feel entitled to hold this stranger under the microscope with absolutely zero insight into who she is and why she’s made her choices and nobody is supposed to dare challenge women’s God-given right to judge other women.

        Remind me again how feminism is all about self-determination? Right.

        • Reply October 15, 2014

          Lucy Clark

          Hi Haki, Feminism is not only about self-determination, it is, above all, a social movement, and sometimes we have to raise our eyes above personal choices and self-determination and look at society as a whole. High profile personal choices like Amal Clooney’s provide good reason to look at social trends. In this matter, society as a whole generally dictates that only women change their names. Although a few people might know one or two men who have changed theirs, the majority of men wouldn’t even consider it.

          • October 15, 2014

            Bob

            Dear lucy. Please read returnofkings. May you become enlightened and educated that you live in a mans world.

          • October 16, 2014

            Daniel

            It is true, in our society, marriage usually means the woman changing her surname and there is good cause to question this. You say that Amal Clooney is a good example but you are exactly wrong, this is a poor example. The smart journalistic approach would be to feature the success of a woman who has kept her name. With this ‘story’ the editorial thrust is ‘click here to see the Clooneys!’ It sells out any discussion before you get there, but then I guess there is a reason it’s called ‘The Hoopla’

      • Reply October 15, 2014

        liz

        In Switzerland the woman’s surname has always been added to the man’s surname upon marriage, and thereafter he goes by this name. The children have the mother’s surname.
        And women did not get the vote until 1971. Surname has nothing to do with women’s rights. Choice is what matters!

      • Reply October 15, 2014

        Amy

        Exactly! Yes, women *do* have the right to choose, and it *is* their choice … no one is denying that. The deeper problem is the huge imbalance: women are always changing their names. Where are the men exercising their choice to change their name? Until we start seeing an equal balance, then we’ve got a problem and it’s still necessary and ‘progressive’ for women to keep their names!

      • Reply October 19, 2014

        Lynne Streeter Childress

        I know 1 man who took his wife’s name, and another couple who now have the same hyphenated name.

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Rebecca

    You summed it up perfectly in the first sentence, Tracey – it’s none of your business. True feminism is choice. Quite frankly, your extreme passion to take away that choice as it pertains to another woman’s surname is the very opposite of feminism. Has it occurred to you that, generally speaking, a woman’s birth name most often comes from her father? Along the logic you’re working from, by refusing to change a name, a woman is choosing to remain her fathers property. How about, women do as they damn well please, and you stop pushing your own hang ups on them?

    • Reply October 15, 2014

      Vanessa

      “True feminism is choice” – uh no. Not when it’s choosing to do the same backward unempowered stuff women were doing when they were considered a man’s property. Very depressing reading all these women rationalising changing their names to their husbands.

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    suzi redzelda

    It will be a real choice when 50% of men change their names. Saying it is a personal choice for a woman to change her name is ignoring the sociological forces at play. and …it makes finding my women friends from school impossible!!

    • Reply October 15, 2014

      Lucy

      Try Facebook. I’ve managed to find a lot of my school friends who have their maiden names on Facebook. That’s how we keep in contact these days as we live all over the world. Once you find one you will find the others.

    • Reply October 15, 2014

      Vanessa

      Spot on.

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Anita Muecke

    Love your guts Spicer but disagree with you vehemently on this one. I believe there are multiple equally valid definitions and manifestations of ‘feminism’.

    I don’t believe it is ok to judge one woman’s choices and denigrate her version, her expression of, her manifestation of feminism.

    But I will defend your right to express your opinion till we’re old ladies!

    Love Anita

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Helen K

    Find this ridiculous Tracey – yes, it’s none of your business and as someone who falls into the category Adam mentions above, I am happy to have the same surname as my husband (note – I am enjoying eating dinner that he cooked as I write this, he does the majority of homework, running around to kids sporting activities, etc). Maybe, by changing her name and maintaining her professional career, she can help overcome your outdated views?

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Rebecca

    I took hubby’s name because I wanted to us to share an identity as a family. I grew up in a house with five different surnames (mum, stepdad, me, 2 half brothers and a step sister). I got so sick of explaining why we didn’t all have the same name. I decided to make an identity for myself that included a collective component. Nothing to do with property or feminism. Just my own personal hang up. Lol

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Sarah

    I believe in women having the right to make the best decision for them on the name front but have to say I was really shocked she changed it…and abit disappointed! She had an amazing name. Amal alamuddin sounds so much better than amal Clooney! And she had built up a great career with it. But I am continually surprised how many friends change their names. I think they mostly do it because they want the same name as their kids. I think we should start passing our names to our kids but I certainly had no chance of convincing my partner! He was so hurt at the thought of it. There’s still a lot of social convention around it all.

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Tracy

    I did not change mine and never would. Quite a strong response here though, so it’s a good thing that it is not mandatory either way.

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Working Girl

    Dear Tracey (who really cares what your opinion is) Spicer,
    You were correct in the first sentence – It really is none of your business, & Amal has the human right to do as she pleases, and not what YOU think she should do. Incredible!!!

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Joolz

    Tracey, I totally agree with you. I had lived with my name for 32 years, it was me and I wasn’t going to change it when I got married. Why? For what purpose? I couldn’t think of any reason to do it apart from some sort of historic fairytale ideal. Why me and not him? I just didn’t get it. His surname was much simpler than mine and everyone thought I would change it, to at least make my own life easier. People can make whatever choices they want, but to take your husbands name and lose your own?

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Eileen

    So we’re name shaming now, Tracey? This is a personal decision and none of us are privy about what’s going through Mrs Clooney’s mind. As so many have pointed out here, it’s none of our business. Equating a surname with commitment to a socio-philosophical stance is a bit nuts. I chose my husband’s name because I loved the sound of it. I also love the feeling of being one, part of a couple. If I had been hung up about surnames, I’m sure he’d be happy to have mine. But I’m not and I’m a very happy Mrs who enjoys living in the clean house he vacuums and tidies. Still love your work, but I politely beg to differ on this occasion.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Lucy

    i got married to my husband two years ago and he asked me to take his name. His first wife kept her name and he was fine with that, as he would have been if I decided to keep mine. We’d been together forever and I’ve been mistakenly called his name for years so I was quite happy to take his (shorter) name.

    My daughter from another relationship is the last in line, as her father had no other children before he passed away, and his siblings have not had children and won’t be. She fully intends on keeping his name and giving a couple of her children her name to keep it going.

    We all have a choice to do what is best for us. My identity has nothing to do with my name I am very happy with myself and not by my label. I also changed my first name to rectify a birth certificate stuff up when I got married.

    I do have some hilarious anecdotes from changing my name at work and people wondering who on earth Lucy X was. The other pain is making sure my new name is on everything. Even now, two years since my marriage I still find the occasional thing I have to change my name on.

    As for Mrs Clooney, who wouldn’t want to be known as Mrs Clooney? Just putting it out there that if the marriage doesn’t work, I’ll be happy to take her place.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Haki

    You are so right, Ms Spicer. It’s NONE of your business. I wish you all would leave that poor woman alone.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    ron burgundy

    If you expect people to take you seriously you better enroll in some writing classes because this article seems like it was written via text message. Why is every sentence a paragraph?!

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Mel E

    i got married a month ago, have changed my name to my husbands name because I wanted to get away from my stepfathers name, if things were different, hubby said that he would be more than happy to take my name. I love the feeling of being someone’s Mrs, I still am my own person, nothing has changed. Good on Amal for choosing to change it, we live in a 21st century. I know a couple that got married early this year, he took his wife’s name, he has only just changed it.

    • Reply October 15, 2014

      Vanessa

      Yes, good on you Amal for changing your name to your husband’s name in the 21st Century! Oh wait…

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Caro Hutchison

    My husband was happy to change his name to mine if I wanted him to. I didn’t – it was a very common name – and I happily changed to his. The names in my history that are important to me have been passed on to our children, continuing a line that dates back to 1850. We have friends who have taken parts of both names to make a new one together, so it’s not totally out of the question.
    I had much more issue when I got married with the concept of being given away by my father – as someone that was raised to be independent I didn’t believe I was a possession to be passed from one man to another.
    Amal should be free to do what ever she wants, without critics having a go at her personal decision.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Li Maree

    An interesting article, I agree wholeheartedly with you Tracey. I would never again give up my name. As soon as I was divorced, I immediately reclaimed my maiden name. I’ve been tempted to include my late Mother’s name as well, but it would be quite a mouthful, so I haven’t.
    You’ve certainly touched a social nerve here Tracey and I would suggest to a lot of you taking to your computer with such anger to take a deep breath and think before you put type. Another wonderful thing about our modern world is that it’s ok to disagree. But please, disagree without the rage. Obviously this subject has people on opposite sides, rubbishing the author does nothing but show that you are incapable of hearing an opinion that is different from yours.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Alexandria

    What a load of rot, if the woman chooses to change her name to Clooney, it is her choice, right, decision – whatever word you would like to use.
    I have my husband’s name and I am very proud of that name. I do not feel owned, shackled, bound, or obliged to wait on his every need just because I have his surname.
    Someone else mentioned about birth names being in all likely hood the name of their fathers’. Well my father is no one to be proud of and I wouldn’t keep that name married or otherwise.
    You seem to think that your opinion is the only and right opinion on this matter which doesn’t make you a feminist, it makes you a little dictator – get off your high horse and mind your own business. There are much more important things happening in the world today then whether a woman chooses to take her husbands surname for God’s sake.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Jacqueline Lang

    I’m a feminist but I’d be more than happy if my name were Mrs George Clooney!

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Michael

    And the click bait articles on this issue have begun.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Sasha

    As a feminist I say it’s HER OWN DECISION if she wants to take her husband’s name or keep her name or double-barrel it. It doesn’t concern you at all and it doesn’t affect anyone but herself and her family. She chose to be Amal Clooney–deal with it! Feminists make decisions for themselves. When I get married in the future I don’t intend to take my man’s name but I might consider barreling it. And my future kids will absolutely have my name in their surname as well. Amal is still an incredible, brilliant and beautiful in-demand human rights lawyer whether she’s Alamuddin or Clooney. Maybe Tracey should concern herself with Tracey.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Jan

    I’m with you Tracey. Disappointed that she did not keep her own birth name. Let’s face it, everyone knows who she is now and there is no question of needing this name change to open any doors. Lots of rage about this topic!

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Miranda

    Lots of people are getting very hot under the collar about this topic but I think it’s a great one for discussion because the old fashioned idea of taking your husband’s name and the feminist one of keeping your own both have their problems.

    Perhaps it also reflects a modern aspect of feminism – that it’s often more about women’s individual rights – thus the importance of having our “own” names, rather than creating a stronger community based on equal rights.

    I think we’re lucky in Australia to be able to do what we want with our names – within reason!
    I kept my own name when I got married over 30 years ago but do wish it was the same as my kids.’ And as Rebecca mentions, my surname still defines me in relation to my father so that many of us have the strange situation that our surnames are the same as our brothers’, their wives’ and their kids’ – but not our own husbands’ and kids’. So unless a couple wanting to share a family name creates a new name, they remain tied to one or both family traditions.

    My husband and I tried coming up with something new but couldn’t come up with anything that we both identified with. We gave my kids my husband’s surname because I felt it fitted them better than mine (they have my surname as a middle name).

    However, I agree with Sarah that Amal Alamuddin sounds much better than Amal Clooney. And George could have taken a stand and shown a huge amount of respect to his new wife by taking Alamuddin as his name!

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Gwen

    I was a little surprised at Mrs Clooney but have noticed a trend back towards younger professional women (in their 30’s) adopting their husbands’ names whereas perhaps 15-20 years ago this seemed to be less common. Yes it is a personal choice but I have used my own name in two marriages. Neither husband thought it was an issue; my children have names reflecting their parentage.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Miranda

    Also, because Amal takes the name Clooney doesn’t mean she automatically has to become “Mrs”. Why not Ms? Although in a number of countries the equivalent of “Mrs” is applied to any woman as a mark of respect, while girls are “Miss”. (Just like boys used to be Master and men Mister.) That scheme makes it irrelevant whether you’re married or not and where your surname comes from.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Rosanna

    The WHOLE point of feminism is fighting to give women the freedom and rights to do what they want. How dare you judge her for wanting to take her husband’s name.

    You pride yourself on being an “old fashioned feminist”? Bullshit. It’s this kind of judgmental, bitchy attitude that gives feminism a bad name.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Angela Rubin

    As Shakespeare said, “what’s in a name?”. I would rather Mrs Clooney save women from poverty, violence & slavering .. We as women need to fight the big issues, there are many more deserving issues than taking a man’s name. It doesn’t mean subjugation, it could be just quicker& easier to write.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    VT

    Simple reason I changed my name–I had a long hyphenated Spanish not easily pronounced name. My husband is Anglo Saxon and my surname makes life easier. Perhaps Amal thought Clooney would be simpler, too, certainly easier to remember.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Sue Ingleton

    Its all about the laws of Marriage & the subsequent laws about Property rights-all created by men to embed their power. Its become so hazed and obfuscated by women trying to break through any of these giant institutions in an attempt to hang onto whatever self-empowerment that names may give them that Spicer’s words are hollow, rolling around in a tin drum. I could go out today and change MY name to Clooney.Nothing to stop me! As a marriage celebrant the question comes up all the time with clients.Some do some don’t , some have business cards etc and don’t want to change them, some are glad to get another name. The truth is that a woman , once married can have two identities. She is immediately able to call herself Mrs Clooney (presuming George is at the other end) and she can keep calling herself Ms. Allamuddin. The greater deception lies in the Marriage Laws. They should be chucked out holis bolis! Even though my daughter’s father, at her birth, changed his name by deed poll to a hyphenated version of both our surnames she was not allowed into the UK (his country of birth) because we were never MARRIED.
    It’s ancient, it’s insidious, its male domination at its most secretive.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    mudhousejane

    My darling husband does most of the housework, cooking and cheerfully pours me a G&T in the evening. I took his name many years ago: I would have preferred to join our names together, but either way the combination read as a little vulgar in his home country, so there you go.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    ro.watson

    I found this article patronising. Keep your surname or last name if you want. Change your first name if you want. I could have chosen my Grandmother’s maiden name which would have been “Thick”.

    Anyhoo , I was on the island of Crete, years ago, um very early 80s when the locals were trying to stop the export of some of their antiquities to Athens by a blockade at their local museum,, even though Crete is part of Athens.

    Good on her. I hope she is successful in, er , repatriating those marbles.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    ro.watson

    Whoops~ meant even though Crete is part of Greece.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Vanessa

    Call me oldfashioned, but a feminist doesn’t change her name when she gets married. Been married twice and never changed mine!

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Benison O'Reilly (@BenisonAnne)

    Great article, Tracey. Like you, I am disappointed about this.

    At least she could have compromised. My sister, who is also a lawyer, calls herself Mrs… at home and school etc. but retained O’Reilly as her professional name..

    I never changed my name when I got married but – despite my apparent ‘lack’ of commitment – we’re still hanging in there after 21+ years. In contrast, many of my Mrs friends have long since divorced.

  • Reply October 15, 2014

    Cathy

    Agree with everyone who stated it is none of your business Ms Spicer. I changed my name so I would have the same name as my child & because I CHOSE to! My name does not define who I am, my actions, values & beliefs define who I am.

  • Reply October 16, 2014

    Gabe

    Wow Trace, you really ruffled the feathers of the “I-changed-to-my-husbands-name-because-simpler-didn’t-like-my-father-his-sounded-nicer-nothing-to-do-with-patriarchy-actually-I’m-a-feminist” set. What a load of shit. Of course it is to do with patriarchy. If not why didn’t you change your name to something you like the sound of years ago? What will you do when you hate your ex-husband more than your father? Why not keep it simple by everyone having your surnenonstead of his? Be someone’s Mrs if you want but OWN it and accept that others may see you as diminished by it.

  • Reply October 16, 2014

    Jess Freeman

    Tracey this article is tabloid trash and has lowered your credibility as a journalist as far as I am concerned. When I got married I was proud to take my husband’s name because I love him so much. and my husband felt honoured that I wanted to take his surname. If anything it would be easier not to change names because of the amount of paperwork involved.
    Regardless the choices people make when they get married are no one elses business but their own.

  • Reply October 16, 2014

    Nick

    Tracey – what a shame. Your article just carried on a little too long. If you just stopped after the first seven words it would have said all you needed to say about the topic.

  • Reply October 16, 2014

    Andrea

    What a piece of drivel. What business is it of yours, Tracey, or anyone else what she chooses to call herself?

    A name is simply a series of letters. A name does NOT define who you are, what you look like, what your career is, your beliefs and values, your hopes, dreams and goals. A name is something people use to distinguish you from others in a crowd. Changing your name does NOT change who you are or what you believe in.

  • Reply October 16, 2014

    Andrea

    “Let me make this clear: as a human rights lawyer you are giving up a fundamental human right.”

    Why not discuss the kind of work she’s doing in the area of human rights? Why not use her persona to bring attention to the cases she’s fighting for. Cos you know, THAT MATTERS.

  • Reply October 16, 2014

    Daniel

    The conversation: Why are surnames patrilineal? has some merit but falls so flat when applied here, mainly because all Spicer’s spite and invective is delivered upon poor old Amal’s judgement. This is a case of a misplaced vehicle for a tirade, in fact it is cynical in that it uses the patrilineal name Clooney as click-bait for a page no one would otherwise bother going to

  • Reply October 16, 2014

    DEANNE

    What a load of dribble ! It is your own personal choice and there could be many reasons why women change their surname when they get married. I had my own reasons why I changed but in doing that has not changed the person I am.

    • Reply October 16, 2014

      Edie

      It’s “drivel” not “dribble”. Here’s an example of its proper use for you: “Deanne, your comment, like so many of the others here attempting to justify changing their names after marriage, is drivel.”

  • Reply October 16, 2014

    Muzz

    I would have thought the more important feminist argument would have been that the children take the mother’s name.

  • Reply October 16, 2014

    Samantha

    This article is absolutely absurd. Implying that a woman taking their husband’s name is somehow degrading because years ago it was symbolic of ‘ownership’? It’s not now. I wonder how many women in our culture really feel as if they’re being perceived as being the ‘property’ of their husband for taking their last name. If you want to go down that path, why not attack marriage in general? Sure it’s supposed to be a union of two people, but at the same time that taking a man’s surname implied ownership, so did the marriage itself, regardless of name. So why don’t us women just all refuse to get married because of some ancient stigma involving that? Because it’s absolutely ridiculous, that’s why.

    As it turns out, in our western society, we don’t need to try to prevent men from trying to control or belittle us. The occasions where that happens are getting further and further apart with each passing year. Men adore us, and they do take us seriously. It’s WOMEN that tear strips off each other when one of us doesn’t adhere to the specific values of another.

    In the past 100 years, we have come an unbelievable distance in the quest for gender equality, with great co-operation from men I might add. To imply (and that’s what this article has done) that a woman choosing to follow a now-harmless tradition of taking her husbands name has somehow thrown us all back into past oppression, is the most ‘mountain out of a molehill’ nonsense I’ve heard in a long time.

    I will be taking my partners name when we marry. I want us to both have the same last name as our children. And although he could take my last name, and that the reason I take his is because it just the way things have always been, I don’t care. Taking a man’s last name does not negate a women’s entire life accomplishments.

  • Reply October 16, 2014

    Costa K

    has anyone asked her why she changed her name?

    just a thought…

  • Reply October 16, 2014

    Paula

    I am a working mother of 4. My husband is a stay at home dad who cooks cleans and helps the kids with their homework. I look after the finances and my husband is the blokiest bloke you’ve ever met. I chose to take his surname because I like his surname, his surname sounded great with my first name, and it was my choice to do so!
    Choose whatever name you want!
    Quick question though… What happens when these future generations with hyphenated names get married to persons who have a hyphenated name? Are they supposed to have 4 hyphernated surnames?
    Personal choice must come into this somewhere!! Surely its just common sense and not a feminist issue?

  • Reply October 16, 2014

    Barbora

    I love this piece. Why should I accept someone’s surname? I already have my own. Does it determin how devoted I am, how much I love that person, if I am serrious about our relationship? If yes, what is that person going to do, to show me the same? Would he take my name in return? Or just cause he leting me become his wife I should gratefully give up on all I stick to and adopt new identity to show I am worth it? I am a person on my own, that person came to my life later than my name. In my oppinion, requiring the name change as a condition to “move the relationship to another level” doesnt prove big love but big EGO

  • Reply October 17, 2014

    MrsP2011

    Don’t agree at all with this from Tracey Spicer and this interesting piece from the Daily Review came today : “a load of wank” is their comment, and I do agree.

    http://dailyreview.crikey.com.au/razer-clooneyalamuddin-name-discussion-is-a-load-of-wank/13995?utm_source=The+Rundown&utm_campaign=8c492adb4d-The_Rundown_Friday_17_October17_10_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_33b9e8bf4f-8c492adb4d-81066217

  • Reply October 17, 2014

    Jason Bryce

    Old fashioned feminists used to be against marriage full stop.

  • Reply October 18, 2014

    Stephanie

    Dear Ms. Spicer,

    I’d like to applaud you on being independent enough to not be an “appendage” of anyone else. In an unrelated note I love your name…Spicer. What a lovely and interesting surname. Did you get it from your father or grandfather?

  • Reply October 18, 2014

    Olive

    It is absurd that one would assume that taking the last name of your husband is anti-feminist. And how dare you dictate or reprimand the customs and decisions of people? If she decides to keep his name, good for her. If she decides to keep her maiden name, good for her then. Does it really matter? Your name is not an identity of who you are. It is the person behind the name. Character. Personality. Strength and ability. Sometimes I wonder if this whole feminist movement is going to backfire on us with the assumptions of female/girl power that we preach. Somethings some feminists say do baffle me. If I decide to be a homemaker – “oh, that’s anti-feminist”. If I say, my husband is the head of the house – “oh, that’s anti-feminist” – even though I believe both partners have equal rights. The customs and agreements in marriages is none for us to interfere with. The decision made between two consenting adults did not include you. Amal is a strong woman. She’ll be fine.

    This is one hell of a dumb piece. I really do not read drivels like this, and this sure has just irritated me.

  • Reply October 18, 2014

    Carol

    Tracey,
    Why, why, why, do you think it is any of your business if a woman choosing to take her husband’s surname???????

  • Reply October 18, 2014

    A PROUD MRS.

    The very first sentence you wrote Tracey, was: “I know it’s none of my business.” Should just stopped typing right there and then. Bashing other women for what ever PERSONAL CHOICE they make under ANY circumstances is ANTI-FEMINIST and you’re a hypocrite.

  • Reply October 18, 2014

    Jeff

    You know what would do feminism wonders? Stop shaming other women for making choices you don’t agree with. You don’t lose ANYTHING when you change your name. You don’t lose your job, you don’t turn into a completely different person, you and everyone you know will still see you as the same person you were the day before you changed your name. That is, unless your friends are feminists, then they’ll lose respect for you and judge you. Kind of hypocritical I’d say.

  • Reply October 18, 2014

    Adrienne Roberts

    The foul language in your article really kind of discredits your opinion for me. It reeks of a lack of education and maybe some personal bitterness issues you might need to work out.

    As far as this accomplished woman taking her husband’s name, good for her. Feminism is NOT about a name. I’ve copied the definition below for you:

    feminism

    the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

  • Reply October 18, 2014

    Christine

    You, Tracey, are not a feminist if you don’t fully support the right of all women to decide if marrying, taking their husband’s name, even staying home to raise the kids are the best choices for them. You infantilize women when you belittle them or accuse them of betrayal for making choices that you don’t agree with. This is a prime example of why a woman like me-a physician who put herself through medical school while raising a child as a single mom and then ran my own business-refuses to call myself a feminist. When you and other fourth wave “feminists” support ALL women in these types of choices, you might get me back.

  • Reply October 18, 2014

    rachel

    Ms Spicer,

    Leave Mrs. Clooney alone. That was her choice. And CHOICE is the operative word here.

    The women’s liberation movement has been over for years-(Thank you Gloria S) you wouldn’t be who you are today without the 65 PLUS year old women, who raised their sons/daughters and had careers EVEN with their husband’s surnames -the movement gave our daughter’s choices .

    I have 25 years over you, have been a professional after returning to education 25 years ago. Instead of bashing a well educated – professional 36 year old who elected to take her husband’s surname-take up another one of your crusades listed on your resume.

    Women like Gloria S- should be thanked by making it possible for women like yourself to have choices. We don’t need to hear a 46 year old bashing women for making a choice. If Clooney married me, I would take his name as well 🙂

    They became self fulfilled even choosing to go grey. When you stop dying your blond hair, and appear on the tube-perhaps I will listen to what you have to say.

    Until then…..focus on something important.

  • Reply October 19, 2014

    Di

    I totally agree with Tracey! Was totally disappointed with Amal!
    YES your name is your identity – I intend to take mine to the grave. Yes we have choices, but society evolves… Can anyone smell change in the air?
    The old ways are just that … old!!! : )

  • Reply October 20, 2014

    Rod

    I agree with Tracey, my wife of 29 years kept her maiden name and it has never been a problem. I have never minded being Mr (her name) when we are in her workplace, in fact I think I would feel a bit of a fraud if she had my surname.
    What I actually wanted to add was my own experience of moving from Melbourne to Sydney in my late 20’s, after 25 years in a new city I am still surprised to find out a good friend socially is the brother or sister of a current or ex colleague, and vice versa. I also believe that had my wife taken my name she would have disappeared from the sight of many of her Melbourne contacts. In todays world we have multiple careers in multiple cities, I think it is a big mistake to change your name.
    Yes its your choice……..but it is also your name, who the hell do you want to be???

  • Reply October 21, 2014

    Gary

    When the daughter of our long-time family friends married, her husband took her family name. So what? Let everyone choose for themselves.

    There are many reasons why a person would change their name, so give them the freedom to do so without casting stones. I will conclude by giving you back some of your own words.

    “With all due respect, . . . it appears you have lost your marbles.”

  • Reply October 24, 2014

    Nova

    Totally agree with Tracey, but those pro choice commentariat rants -phew ! Of course it is her choice but they miss your point entirely – why consider changing your name in the first place? It is the 21st century !!! It is astonishing and puzzling that a well regarded human rights lawyer with an impressive track record would even consider taking anyone else’s name. Of course she does not have to answer this but it does leave you wondering WHY ??? I was thinking isn’t is amazing to have a new young role model for women in the same way that lawyer Jennifer Robinson is a standout in the media celebrity cycle. Losing her name takes a bit of the shine off. Not like losing your shoe…

  • Reply October 27, 2014

    Mariella

    Oh for F’s sake. It’s a choice and it was her’s to make. Does that make her any less good at her job? No. Does that make her a bimbow? No. And it’s really not you problem. I live in a country where its impossible to change your surname. When you get married, your spouse’s name goes into your ID (as in Married to: Insert name) but you will forever be reigstered under your single name. Women only really use their husband’s surname for social purposes. My mom never used my dad’s surname. I intend to use my husbands’ when we get married last year. Why? Because I think it’s sweet. Period. It has nothing to do with being old fashioned.

  • Reply November 1, 2014

    Rhoda

    From the Anglo Saxon point of view it’s only an English custom. Not even a Scottish one. In Scotland marriage was once all about the alliance of two families so both parties kept their surnames.

    Today the Anglo Saxon version of marriage is about two people who want to live together for romantic reasons. There is no reason to change their surname unless they wish to just as there is no reason to be married by a cleric. Men hardly own women when they can walk out of a marriage, take back their maiden name and have a claim to assets accumulated. If women have these rights then where’s the oppression? It’s these sort of silly arguments that turn people off feminism because they actually disprove male oppression.

    Amap Clooney and her mother both lead independent lives, are their own person and living proof that women’s status doesn’t have to be dependent on a man. These women have status within their family and in their various social spheres. Neither her father or her husband are models of male oppression.

    Real oppression happens when women have no status within their family or communities. The single mother for instance. Everyone is down on her yet she is raising children and in many circumstances lacks financial and physical protection. I’d have respect for any feminist who took her side.

    Let’s direct our energies to helping those who deal with real oppression. Amal Clooney doesn’t qualify.

  • Reply November 11, 2014

    Tony

    Seriously, is not the point of equality having a choice? First-World problems, Tracey!!!!

  • Reply November 11, 2014

    Kate

    Feminism is about justice and personal sovereignty, not choice. Choice is such a privileged notion- if you have the freedom and rule of law behind your choice, great. 60%+ of the world’s women do not. Why do not people not understand the structural components Tracey raised here? The choices celebrities make effect the world. Same principle as advertising, creating norms and imposing values.That we still do not have #marriageequality is because so many people imposed their values onto the legal and judicial systems. Those mores have changed and government has not caught up. I’m sick to death of having my husband’s surname constantly forced on me for the decade of our marriage, on being criticized by real estate agents and banks and even by the dentist for my ‘choice’ – to keep the legal name on my birth certificate! Why, because I mustn’t love him or plan to stay with him, or I try to wear the ‘pants’ whatever that means. Lots of people see Mrs Clooney’s ‘choice’ as validation of their world view. Many ppl in these comments do this and claim they want respect for one choice, only to contempt another.

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