In her cover story for InStyle’s July issue, Zoe Saldana revealed that her husband, Marco Perego, took her last name after the couple secretly wed in 2013. The news caused quite a stir amongst people who not only felt that it’s the woman who should change her last name, but that the idea of a man taking on a new surname is ridiculous.
Saldana explained that Perego could have cared less about public opinion and stood by his decision. The actress has since taken to Facebook to address the criticisms and to say that this should be a moment to question the traditions that should no longer have a place in today’s society.
“Fathers, sons, brothers, men everywhere: Your legacy will not perish if you take your partner's surname, or she keeps hers,” Saldana wrote on a Facebook post.
“Why is it so surprising, shocking, eventful that a man would take his wife's surname? Women have never been asked if it's ok for them to give up their names — why doesn’t that make the news?” she asked.
Indeed, how many women throughout history have taken on their husband’s last name without causing a slew of headlines criticizing the change? Why is it assumed that if anyone’s last name is going to change after a marriage, it’s the woman’s? Many believe that it’s the man’s role to carry on the family surname, that the family history will die if his offspring doesn’t bear his last name, but is that really what should matter? Shouldn’t our concern be in passing on our family’s values, history, and memories in order to raise caring individuals?
A person is so much more than just a name and a legacy should go far beyond it as well. Let your progeny remember you not because you share a name, but because you strive to leave a mark in other ways, by sharing your talents with the world and by seeking to leave things just a little better than they were when you arrived.
Saldana continued her note by asking men to break from tradition and trust that respect will still come to them.
“Men, you will not cease to exist by taking your partner’s surname? On the contrary — you’ll be remembered as a man who stood by change. I know our sons will respect and admire their father more because their father led by example,” she wrote. “Gentlemen, I implore you to think outside the box — remove the box altogether. Let’s redefine masculinity. A real 'man' leads alongside his partner. A real man accepts his mortality. A real man acknowledges that nothing can be done alone.”
It doesn’t sit right that masculinity is defined by a man lording over his “subservient wife” and that women are expected to bow down and accept that this is her fate. For starters, having to go through the process of changing your last name is a huge pain in the butt! Plus, if you’re in a creative field or in a profession in which your name is a major part of your recognition, then why even go through the process at all? Personally, I would either keep my last name or hyphenate alongside my partner’s, but I’m not about to completely ditch what has always been a part of me. And I don’t think anyone has any right to make comments on what a grown person has decided to do for themselves.
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