Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mrs. My Husband

Tradition tells us as women that when we are married we must take our husband's surname and make the transition from a Miss to a Mrs. Now, of course, there is the choice to hyphenate, but this is sometimes portrayed as emasculating. Questions are asked about the husband's hold on the wife, and the situation becomes uncomfortable as it always does when someone decides to break from tradition. One contemporary example of this is in the 2010 movie "Hot Tub Time Machine" where Nick Webber-Agnew gets berated for his hyphenated last name by his pals from high school. At the end of the movie the men all get the dream lives that they wanted, and Nick's includes he and his wife dropping the hyphen and her last name even though he previously tried to defend the hyphen as "progressive". I would guess this is a movie probably made to appeal to men, so this joke would be funnier to them since they have nothing to lose. 

The sense of identity that comes with carrying the family name is a lot bigger than one might think for some people, but men never have to think about losing it. In Mrs. Dalloway, which Virginia Woolf wrote in 1925 before the days of hyphenated last names, Clarissa is struggling with leaving her self behind to become Mrs. Richard Dalloway. She even says she felt odd and uncomfortable about, "this being Mrs. Dalloway; not even Clarissa any more; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway" (Woolf 10). She had no choice to be progressive.

This specific example of Clarissa's connects very closely with a current topic that me and my friends are very heated about. When we think of progressive power couples the first to come to mind is usually the Obamas and the second is Beyonce and Jay-Z. When Jay-Z, whose real name is Sean Carter, and Beyonce Knowles got married in 2008, they legally changed their last names to Knowles-Carter. This was an admirable choice and one that was to be expected from such a foreword thinking female power figure as Beyonce. She has written songs titled "Independent Women" and "Run the World (Girls)", and her band has been made up of all female musicians since the B'Day tour in 2006. It will be a curious thing, however, to see this all female power house play her next tour which is titled "The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour". After her last show, titled "I Am...World Tour", which was a huge celebration of female empowerment and is probably on the DVD shelf of every dorm apartment at Lincoln Center, this new show seems like a giant step back for the girls who are supposedly running the world. What is most odd about this is that Beyonce retained her last when she got married. She is not even legally named "Mrs. Carter". Hopefully this is a sign that we can expect a feminist twist on the Mrs. My Husband issue from her when the tour starts.

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. 1925. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010. 10. Print.

1 comment:

  1. Ahhh I always think about this so it was really interesting to read about it!