Wednesday, March 5, 2014

To The Culture Police - Stop Bullying Married Women To Change Their Name

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I saw the interview a day late and had to laugh at the answers Chimamanda Adichie, a woman after my heart, gave to the Sun newspaper interviewers as she lent her voice to gender equality. See, men don't HAVE to change their names after marriage, yet some Nigerians won't let a married woman rest. These Nigerian journalists wanted to do oversabi for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and got it served to them. (Read full interview here)

When one of the commenters on fellow blogger Thelma's blog post, here, said answering Mrs does not imply a submissive wife or a happy marriage, Thelma asked, "if it doesn't imply anything; if there's no reason behind this particular action [of changing names or taking the Mrs title], then why not just answer the husband's name?"

So I had to throw the question back at Thelma. If we agree that taking the title Mrs, or changing to your husband's last name does not in any way impact on her marriage, then why not just call a married woman by the name she has always been known to you by? This question also goes especially to the journalists who kept on drilling and almost bullying Chimamanda to change her name going as far as calling her Mrs. Adichie, which is so wrong.

So all those faux culture police, it's not by force to answer Mrs. or one's husband's name, and there's no achievement in doing so. Since answering Mrs. does not signify you have a happy marriage, why not simply continue calling a married woman the name she has always been called and known by? Unless of course she requests otherwise.

I know a lot of Nigerian women who will fight anyone who dares to leave out their title meanwhile, they will also fight with their husband when they get home. Next you hear they're separated and their husband moved in with another woman, and they're still answering Mrs. SMH...

Note to all - Ask a married woman what she prefers to be called and if she has decided not to take her husband's name, call her what she asks. Some women change their names, some DON'T. Some change it for legal reasons, and prefer to remain known, socially, by their maiden names. Deal with it.


Photo via taken April 2008.



  2. people should stop getting married , it is equally an old tradition

  3. if her husband was Bill gates, am sure she would have longed changed her name

  4. Why cry more than the injured? Couples have a right to decide what's best for them. Journalists et al, mind your business!

  5. Yes o, a couple of days ago. Let me know how the experience is :)

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  7. Feminists should equally stop answering Wo-man afterall according to 'ancient Christianity' (which the white man brought to Africa), it was Adam (a man) who named Eve a woman. Feminists can also stop being part of 'man-kind' since they don't want to be under a man's authority. There are many women who are happy to bear their husband's names and this has been the case for centuries. Deal with it. In the meantime, feel free to make your own choice but stop telling 'single stories' about the matter in order to justify your position.

  8. hmmm you make no sense really. what Myne said it should be a choice. how is that a single story? besides if we are to talk about Africa, which we can"t really do because it is made up of several "peoples", we would realize that in most african cultures, a woman's identity was tied to her children not her husband. My grandma lived in the village, didn't go to school, had no birth certificate and I never heard anyone call her Mrs something. she was always address as mama something. And to just let you know that u really make no sense, changing names is a Christian thing so if really Christianity is a white man's religion which you seem not to like, then you should be advocating for the white's man culture of women changing their names. stop contradicting yourself

  9. *addressed as
    *should not be advocating

  10. The single story was told by Chimamanda who claimed that women bearing their husband's names is not really African culture. Sorry, but this is very false. Way before the colonial era, Igbo women were addressed as Nwuye. E.g. Nwuye Amadi i.e. the wife of Amadi. This is the equivalent of saying Mrs. Amadi as Mrs. simply means 'the wife of'. At the same time, our female ancestors in Igboland were also referred to as Mama e.g. Mama Obi meaning the mother of Obi. Both identities often went hand in hand and essentially the woman acknowledged her place as part of a man's household. Most Igbo women in that era would not forbid people from referring to them as the wives of their husbands or insist on being known as the daughters of their fathers only. The surname thing become more formal with the advent of western education. Women officially change their names because they have taken on more roles in the working world and need a common identity for the sake of order. Whilst a married woman should not be forced to officially change her name, there is nothing wrong with referring to her as Mrs. i.e. the wife of her husband. For example, a western woman who answers Mrs. Smith can equally be identified informally as Peter's Mom. She, like every other woman, has multiple identities but picks one identity for formal usage in society. If she decides to answer her maiden name, people can still refer to her as Mrs. Smith or Smith's wife regardless. That is no crime. However, if the person takes offence then one has to respect their wishes. In most parts of Africa, the typical Iyawo Idowu or Mama Emeka is also simultaneously identified as the wife of somebody. Yes, we all have a right to make our choices but people should not tell single stories to justify those choices. I was not contradicting myself at all. I am a Christian and according to the bible, Adam named Eve 'Wo-man'. So professing Christians who feel uncomfortable about answering a husband's name should equally be uncomfortable about being called a Woman as that was the original 'husband's name'.

  11. In Yoruba praise songs, men are sometimes referred to as oko "insert wife's name"
    If the fact that the reverse being true for women is a justification for their name change, then same should hold true for men.
    The main point here is that it should be a choice. There is no African or not African here.

  12. @ 11:07: In what culture in the world does a man answer his wife's name formally? Informally, yes but not as a title. It may not sound palatable to many but the reality is that a typical woman joins her man's household after marriage and bears children for him hence the need to identify as such. However, if your wife has paid 'groom price' on your head and you are leaving to join her household and bear children who will answer her name, then feel free to adjust your name and identity accordingly. May the same apply to your brothers, sons, nephews and male friends too. We are really living in the end times, it seems. So, yes, individuals can choose to be non-conformist but should not tell single stories to justify their stand. The fact remains that in most civilisations the world over, including the wayward western civilisation of today, the man does not bear the woman's surname.

  13. No matter your argument, a woman should have the right of choice on which name she wants to bear and no body should insult her or bully her about it, period!!! Stop with your asinine arguments abeg, the world has moved on from where you are standing. Women are not pieces of baggage that can be bought and sold. They are human beings with feelings, dreams and pasts. Men, especially African men need to stop seeing women as an object to be possessed, but rather as the true and Godly definition of what a wife ought to be, a HELPMATE!!!

  14. @ Nike: Stop with your rudeness, dear. Again, women have a right to bear whatever name or title they like but they don't have the right to tell single stories or outright lies in defence of that position. Since when did calling a married woman 'Mrs' become bullying? If anything, the woman in question was the one bullying the reporter. Nobody has said that women are pieces of baggage to be bought and sold. Men ought to love and cherish their wives however, women need to honour their husbands too as they are the head of the household. If a woman feels so revolted by the thought of answering a man's name then she does not need to get married in the first place. Mrs merely means 'the wife of a man'. It is not a crime for someone to state a fact.


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