Amal Alamuddin has changed her name to Amal Clooney - what's more feminist than that?

We can have a union with our partner expressed through a joint surname and we can still be fabulously successful

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The Independent Online

A woman who changes her surname to her husband’s is making a positive feminist choice. Perceived wisdom states the opposite but that’s not true. Amal Clooney was Amal Alamuddin until her marriage to actor George last month. As an impressive, intelligent and independent woman, we might have expected her to keep her name as a feminist stance. That she hasn’t would explain the plethora of headlines reporting the news this week. Yes, this surname change was a surprise, but it’s certainly not a retrograde choice.

Clooney has taken a stance that some feminists feel isn’t open to them because taking your husband’s name is seen as anti-feminist – a submissive choice that speaks of giving up your identity. But that’s wrong because there’s nothing more feminist than a woman having a myriad of options and choosing the one that’s right for her. What can be more self-determined than choosing to take a new surname for yourself?

True feminism is embracing your all - your professional side and your romantic side, your independence and your unity with your partner. We can have a union with our partner expressed through a joint surname and we can still be fabulously successful. This isn’t a competition. Marriage and independent success are no longer mutually exclusive and a shared surname is a fine expression of that.

For many women in my parents’ generation, marriage and a surname change meant giving up your own life. Fun and career were replaced by co-dependence and a traditional, uninspiring delineation of gender roles within the union. Once opportunities began to open up for women, it’s understandable that we turned away from the surname change and all it represented.

If Amal is choosing her new surname because she wants to share a name with her husband, it doesn’t mean she’s giving up her identity. In fact, her work continues to be her strongest identity. She has a substantial and high-profile career that’s the envy of many, something she’s created for herself. That won’t change even if her name has.

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