An.... interesting editorial appeared on CrownHeights.info this week. Authored by Rabbi Israel Krasnianski, it lashes out against the big problem that exists in our world... married women retaining their maiden names.
Now, personally, I think it's all a big bunch of nonsense. I don't really think it matters one way or the other what names a woman uses. To me, there are plenty of legitimate reasons for a woman to keep her maiden name and there are plenty of legitimate reasons to adopt the husband's. When Eeees and I got married, I told her that I had no objection to her keeping her maiden name if she wanted to. I had no intention of changing my name to her maiden name, but I could have if I wanted to as well.
However, I find it kind of funny when articles such as this one pop up from time to time. This particular editorial had quite a few "gems" that I'd like to share with you. Let's start with this one:
Many studies have shown, as a matter of statistical fact, higher divorce rates where woman retain their maiden names.
To be perfectly fair and honest, I don't know if this is true or not. For the sake of argument, however, let's assume that it's true. It may well be true that there is a higher divorce rate for women who keep their maiden names after marriage, but as I learned in statistics classes, you can't just look at the raw numbers alone. There are any number of reasons to question this little factoid. For starters, do these studies take into account the overall rise in divorce rates across the population as a whole? Do they take into account cultural biases against divorce that may exist in various places? Is the divorce rate in Quebec much higher than the rest of the world? (In Quebec, a woman is not allowed to change her name upon marriage. She must retain her maiden name). In short, there are any number of factors that can explain a rise in divorce rates among women who keep their maiden name.
Even if you can conclusively prove that keeping your maiden name results in an increased chance of divorce, perhaps that's only the symptom and not the cause. What I mean is this: perhaps women who would keep their last name have a personality trait that causes them to favor keeping their names. Forcing (or encouraging) such a woman to "give up" her name is not going to change her underlying personality -- and I think we can all agree that the personalities of the husband and wife will play a far greater role in predicting a divorce than what last name she chooses to go by. In other words, it's entirely possible that cause and effect are being confused here.
This section caught my attention as well.
It is no secret that in other circles, the reason for deteriorating marriages, climbing divorce rates and the current shidduch crisis, is greatly due to the fact that the girls today are much more educated, knowledgeable and capable than the boys are. More than often times the bread-winner in the young family is the wife. Today with modern society and the plague of liberalism all around us, woman are no longer being taught to be mothers of children and good wives, instead liberalism is teaching them to become executives of large corporations and to try and become the man they were never meant to be!
I find it to be both extremely funny and sad that a sane person could write this paragraph. We encourage our young men to sit and learn, to eschew any education which might result in his having some marketable skills, all in the name of advancing Torah study. Since the young couple has to eat and the vast majority of us don't have wealthy parents or in-laws, the women go out and earn degrees and become the breadwinners of the family so that the husband can learn in Kollel. However, now we're decrying this as the cause for deteriorating marriages and for the shidduch crisis! Give me a break! You can't have it both ways! Don't create a situation where the women are forced to go out and work and then tell them that their doing so is the cause of broken homes and the shidduch crisis. To do so is simply wrong and unfair -- whether the underlying assertion is true or not.
Retention of the last name is indicative of this recent “style” of women's independence and when you enter into your marriage with a fear of losing your independence, then you are entering into this marriage shakily and with insufficient resolve! This unhealthy balance has brought much crisis and serious issues to the orthodox circles.
Or it could be indicative of the fact that it may simply be easier to retain your last name. Or perhaps the husband keeping *his* last name indicates a "ear of losing your independence" and "entering into this marriage shakily and with insufficient resolve!" I think that if that's the case, all couples should have hyphenated names. This way *both* parties go into the marriage with the knowledge that it is a partnership of both parts.
While I do sympathize with a girl’s desire to preserve a link to her familial heritage and her need to maintain her own reputation and her feelings for identity preservation, still, there is no doubt that this trend is founded on a feminist message which strays from the Torah tradition of marriage and makes a statement that women are not the husband’s property.
Words fail me on this one. A wife is not property. And don't start jumping on me about kiddushin being done in a manner that resembles the purchase of property. One of the surest signs that I own something is the fact that I can sell it. If I want, I can sell my house to whomever I want. I can sell my hamster to whomever I want. I can sell my dishes, books, etc. to anyone I want. I can't however, sell my wife. Why? Becuase I don't really own her. Yes, I have claims on her with regard to rights and responsibilities in marriage and she likewise has rights and claims on me - but that's not the same thing as ownership. Wives are not property.
Furthermore, the Torah teaches when one marries one must not merely leave her family, but ABANDON (“yazov”) all her family’s traditions etc for her husband’s!
I think Rabbi Krasnianski should go back to the beginning of the Chumash. The last time I checked, the Torah said (emphasis mine) "al keyn ya'azov ISH es aviv v'es imo v'davak b'ishto..." (therefore a MAN should leave (sorry... ABANDON) his father and his mother and cleave to his wife..."
Another "gem" is this one:
As for girls who can’t do this for fear of losing their independence (contrary to what marriage is), either you marry your husband completely, including his name, or go back to your father's house and use his name until you learn what marriage is and ought be.
Talk about condescending and rude! Someone who doesn't want to give up their last name for whatever reason shouldn't get married at all?! As if that's the be-all and end-all of marriage? How about asking the same thing of men? Perhaps we can state that if a man is afraid of losing his independence and isn't willing to marry his wife completely (by taking her name) perhaps he shouldn't get married. Is that ludicrous? Of course it is... but so is his statement.
Marriage, IMHO, is a partnership. Both the husband and the wife have to put in the effort and make the sacrifices and comprimises that are necessary in a marriage. One party alone can't do it. If both parties to a marriage are willing to do what it takes to make the marriage work, then it doesn't really matter what last names the parties go by. However, *if* you're going to stress (for whatever reason) the importance of the woman giving up her last name as a sign of commitment to the marriage, then the husband should be no less required to do so. If that's the case, I think both the husband and wife should have hyphenated names, thereby showing that they are both committed to the marriage.
Hat tip: How To Measure The Years and Frum Satire.
(Let's not forget -- the very template of a successful Jewish marriage involved a couple with different last names -- Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imeinu.) :)