A friend posted this article on Facebook the other day about Jay-Z also hyphenating his last name when he married Beyonce; and while this is clearly old news, I was stoked to find out about this. As in ALL-CAPS-LOCK-HOLY–CRAP-STOKED.
Why, you ask. Allow me to get historical for a moment. This is probably not a surprise to anyone, but just in case you didn’t know, marriage was an institution not based on love. It was a transaction between two families. That’s how it’s been since its induction. If you happened to be in love with the man you were bequeathed to, then huzzah! If not, well same old, same old. Obviously, marriage has been completely redefined in our modern times. People fall in love and get married. The idea of a loveless wedding is a tragedy in our day and age. However, there are some of those old-school, pretty messed-up traditions that have permeated into our present day lovey-dovey, smiles times. One example, the father still walks the daughter down the aisle, and literally passes her off to her betrothed. Hello! A TRANSACTION IS OCCURRING HERE BETWEEN 2 DUDES WITH THE LADY BEING THE GOODS. Another tradition is that of the woman taking the last name of her husband’s. The reason for this is quite literally the patriarchal set up. Estates, titles, property, etc. were passed through the males. Thus, you would obviously take the male last name to decipher who was the rightful heir to whatever.
Which brings me back to my initial excitement to Jay-Z being a badass. Obviously, we don’t really use the last name change today as a means to figure out who gets to keep what when grandpa dies. Especially since the family structure is rapidly changing. People still do it out of tradition, practicality when naming the kids, your maiden name was something awful like Ratdick, what-have-yous. But to me, the history behind giving up a “maiden” name is grating and upsetting. (Don’t get me started on that “maiden” shit).
So, when Jay-Z hyphenated his last name to include the name of his new wife, it was awesome! That, to me, embodies the spirit of what a present-day marriage is to most people. Obviously, there is the quandary of what people with hyphenated last names meeting and marrying other people with hyphenated last names will do, but that is not what I’m going to be worrying about here. And at that point though, the intrinsically misogynist tradition has already been thrown asunder, so they should do whatever the hell they want name-wise!
But my ideas here and what Jay-Z did are all pretty radical, certainly not openly adopted and well-regarded in the mainstream. There’s probably a reason it took so long for me to learn about Jay-Z hyphenating his last name… Remember that movie that came out a couple years ago that was impeccably called Hot Tub Time Machine? Well, I do. And it was a pretty funny movie that I enjoyed. However, there was an entire subplot of the film dedicated to the very topic I’m discussing here. And the moral of that story was if you’re a man and you hyphenate your last name, you might as well cut your dick off (clip here). And that, my friends, is how stupid, outdated, chauvinistic traditions live on!
If Jay-Z were ever confronted like that, I’d like to think he’d say “Way to perpetuate patriarchal notions that are oppressing all of us, men included… to the izzo” Or something like that.