What if I told you that you’ve been told a lie since childhood?
You have been conditioned to believe a story that’s full of untruths: A story that manhood is supposed to be a certain way.
The storyline goes something like this: You are physically tough. You are emotionally stoic and strong, no crying is allowed. You must be smart, athletic, and financially successful. You must be dominant, in control, and independent. All. The. Time.
Only because you are born a male.
And let me guess – you don’t really want to continue following this script any longer. You want to escape from pain and anger.
Does this sound familiar?
If so, you are not alone. In fact, I lived that scripted life for nearly 30 years and I know how frustrating and exhausting it is to play the male character in the scripted story.
But I found a solution to this dilemma and set myself free. How? I accepted that manhood doesn’t have to be a certain way and started living an unscripted life.
When I got married three years ago, I took my wife’s name. Until then, I considered myself as someone who believed in gender equality. But I was never really vocal about my belief. My perspective on gender equality forever changed when I actually went through the name-changing process.
As many women have already experienced, I can tell you that changing your name is not fun and it’s incredibly time-consuming. Passport, driver’s license, health insurance card, credit cards, mileage cards, email addresses, you name it. To this day, I still have some identification under my old name and wonder how much time I could have saved if I had just kept my name after marriage.
And that got me thinking: Why do most cultures expect women to go through this process? Answer: Because we live in a patriarchal society. Before I took my wife’s name, I had no idea how much this world was tilted in favor of men.
What do last names have to do with sexim?
A 2018 study of recently married American showed that a mere 3 percent took their wife’s last name. The same study found that, of those with an advanced degree, not a single one of the men surveyed changed their name. Why? Those men found themselves in the traditional breadwinner role. Potentially, they had more to lose by changing their last name.
If the world was equal between two genders, these statistics would look vastly different. First, men wouldn’t be dominating the breadwinner role in heterosexual relationships. Ideally, the number should be 50/50 and no one would criticize women for being the breadwinner and no one would give men a hard time for staying at home to support their breadwinning partner. Second, more men would take their partner’s name or be fine with their partner keeping their name.
There are many other factors that will actually impact the system that encourages women to take their partner’s name. But the decision to change your name is entirely up to you, if you think about it.
What can men do to promote gender equality?
If you truly believe in gender equality and are planning to get married, don’t expect your partner to take your name.
If you live in a country that allows married couples to have separate names, consider that option. If you want to have the same last name, consider combining together or taking your partner’s name.
“I’m the man in this relationship so you should change your last name” is outdated and sexist. So is “It’s always been that way.”
Whenever you solely rely on the decisions other people made for you, you are living a scripted life. Living an unscripted life is living your truth: knowing why you do what you do.
Whatever you decide to do with your partner, know exactly why you are doing it.
Whatever the outcome may be, your decision will challenge your view on manhood.
Taking my wife’s name gave me the opportunity to ask questions about gender. I felt a burning curiosity about why gender roles are often so fixed. It challenged me to seek gender equality in my everyday life. The more I sought, the more uncomfortable I became with my manhood. The discomfort of feeling my emotions. The discomfort of letting go of my need to control every aspect of my life. The discomfort of living an authentic, unscripted life.
Once I discovered that manhood doesn’t have to be a certain way, I found the freedom I was looking for. When you confront gender expectations and embrace vulnerability, you attain the freedom to live your life fully.