The Instigator
Con (against)
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The Contender
Pro (for)
3 Points

Should Women be Required to Take Their Spouse's Last Name?

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/19/2015 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 567 times Debate No: 73764
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




Women shouldn't be required to take their spouse's last name because it's unfair. It undermines the independence of women. What if she never got divorced because her husband beat her or he was a bad man? That woman would be stuck with a name she would dread her whole life. Besides, what if she doesn't want to change her name because of sentimental value or her spouse's name is a name she doesn't want. For example, What if her name is Mary Smith and her spouse's name is Harry Butt. they would be Mrs. Mary Butt and Mr. Harry Butt. They would be made fun of and be the laughing stock of the neighborhood, doctor's office, work (etc.). Imagine if they had a kid named Honey. That girl's name would be Honey Butt. That's just as bad as Harry Butt and Mary Butt. People say women's last names mean nothing to them, but they are wrong. That is the name you grew up with and the fact that you have to change it all of a sudden is a bit overwhelming and would take a long time to get used to. Women shouldn't be required to change their last names. It's a sign of independence to some of them!


When a married couple take the same name, it's as much pragmatic as it is traditional. Hospitals and government agencies need to be aware of family units and shared surnames are required for logging; otherwise you add another layer of questioning if the administration has to ask if you are married.

As for your example; you're thinking of the worst possible scenario. Harry's surname was bad enough as it was, and Mary isn't as bad as Harry in that sense since it sounds more like "hairy". And who would call their child Honey and then complain of bad naming. The same goes for your "bad man" hypothesis; the surname a woman takes is the least of her worries if

Mixed messages are sent regarding the independence of women. On one hand, you argue that it's a sign of sentimentality and independence, but on the other hand, you accept that women find having a new name overwhelming. It's not as if they must take it in every circumstance; my own mother uses her maiden name at work, the new surname is a mere formality and frankly speaking, removing that requirement in the name of progress is a meaningless gesture of equality.

Debate Round No. 1


To adopt the surname of a partner and relinquish your own would profoundly affect how you think about your own identity. It would cause many problems. It may solve the problem of the added layer of questioning, but cause more problems psychologically. Not a problem for all, but for many it is. Feelings can run high over the issue of surname change, as demonstrated by recent criticism of Amal Alamuddin's decision to change her name when she married George Clooney. Some feminists point out that women suffer serious detriment to their careers when they change their names - that they signal their submission to their husbands, and reinforce to their own children the idea that women are inferior to men. It seems very sexist.


I understand that the surname links you to your family, and that family is critical your identity, but your name being changed does not separate you from them: it's simply recognition that you are not just part of an additional family, but that you intend to create your own. If you don't wish to extend yourself past your own family, then why marry in the first place? Some feminists may claim that there is ground between changing of the name and how one sees themselves, but I would say that's just tangential to the entire idea of becoming a wife, not just taking the surname. And in that area, I would agree with you: readings around the subject show that women tend towards certain roles after marriage which have traditionally been female roles. I understand that and I do believe it's something we have to change, make no mistake. It may be anecdotal evidence, but my own mother kept her maiden name into marriage: She still assumes the roles a wife would take. My aunt's are a a manager and a doctor respectively. The role of women in marriage is a definite problem, but surnames are a mere symptom; changing them is a meaningless gesture which would only create the illusion of a progress yet to be filled.

See you next round,

Debate Round No. 2


Duncan, I assume you are a male, would you want to change your last name to your spouses name? I have asked numerous males and they all said no. I told them that's what some women feel. If you think that "If you don't wish to extend yourself past your own family, then why marry in the first place?" why is there divorce? I have met many people with divorced parents and sometimes their parents aren't divorced but they live separately. Someone very close to me didn't divorce because she has a daughter and her ex husband used to beat her. She never officially divorced because that man had told her that if she divorced or call the police, he would either take her daughter or kill them both. She had changed to her ex husbands name and every day she wakes up with his last name and remembers everything he did to her. It's a horrible thing and she carries that burden every day for the rest of her life. It causes her to stress out and it's bad for her health. Some surname changes cause many serious problems. That is why women shouldn't be required to take their spouse's last name. This is my final argument. It's been a pleasure debating with you Duncan.



Yes, I am male, but I',m relatively indifferent to my surname, you made an example of someone called "Harry Butt", but my surname is Walker; tragic for someone who only recently recovered from a limp which I suffered from over the last 4 years. Yes, I would most likely have been willing to take my spouse's name. But that's just me, I understand that my case is only anecdotal and has little bearing, but neither has any anecdote. But what I also understand your perspective comes from a very passionate and heartfelt place; it's something of great importance to you, something I have to respect. A case like that, it overcomes any argument of convenience or pragmatism, and so I will finish with this.

There is always an exception to the rule. The weakness of law is how blind it is to individual cases. It's not an all-purpose or perfect system by any stretch of the imagination, so while I have made points of simplicity, there is no doubt that a case like that overcomes the frailty of such a "convenience".

It's been a pleasure for me too.

Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Duncan 2 years ago
It's not really a Dark Age thing; simple pragmatism that on lists and registers which require next of kin information, it's less inconvenience. The same way children have to take their parents surname. Only on an official level, not day to day.
Posted by Stefy 2 years ago
Duncan you think it should be mandatory? Like its not even just a strong suggestion? Im going to get my witch burning stake and medicinal leeches and lets just go all the way with this return to the dark ages.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Lumberjay85 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con didn't really put forth that strong of an argument. The third round particularly outlines a troubled relationship that really has nothing to do with the change of a name.