Mary Wollstonecraft - Wikipedia
Mary Dixon (aka Wollstonecraft)

The most elemental meaning of “patriarchy” is the father as the head of the family. This ideology, which has wrought so much global oppression against women, is carried on in the tradition of a man’s wife, and all of his children, bearing his surname. I believe that true gender equality — equality of social status and respect, not just things like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — requires an equal passing down of the father’s and the mother’s birth surnames. To this end, I am partial to a matrilineage and patrilineage running in parallel for cisgender heterosexual family members, with case by case egalitarian modifications for LGBT family members.

To illustrate how this might work, as well as just a small taste of its power, I have traced back the matrilineal surnames of notable women a few generations.

THE BAUMFREE WOMEN

(from Sojourner Truth)

Baumfree, Diana

Baumfree, Elizabeth

Baumfree, Elizabeth II

Baumfree, Isabella ~ suffragist and abolitionist

Baumfree, Sophia

THE CAMPBELL WOMEN

(from Kim Kardashian)

Campbell, Chicago

Campbell, Karen

Campbell, Kendall ~ model and fashion designer

Campbell, Khloe ~ fashion designer and television host

Campbell, Kimberly ~ fashion designer and cosmetics entrepreneur

Campbell, Kourtney ~ fashion designer and retail entrepreneur

Campbell, Kris ~ television host and talent manager

Campbell, Kylie ~ cosmetics entrepreneur and fashion designer

Campbell, Mary Jo ~ retail entrepreneur

Campbell, North

Campbell, Penelope

Campbell, Reign

Campbell, Stormi

Campbell, True

THE DAVIS WOMEN

(from Kate Upton)

Davis, Barbara

Davis, Katherine ~ model and actor

Davis, Louise

Davis, Louise II

Davis, Margaret

Davis, Margaret II

Davis, Shelley ~ tennis player

THE DE SOLA WOMEN

(from Courtney Love)

de Sola, Candelaria

de Sola, Courtney ~ singer and actor

de Sola, Elsie ~ screenwriter

de Sola, Frances ~ visual artist and music journalism intern

de Sola, Jaimee

de Sola, Linda ~ author and marriage counselor

de Sola, Nicole

de Sola, Paula ~ author

THE DIXON WOMEN

(from Mary Wollstonecraft)

Dixon, Clara

Dixon, Eliza

Dixon, Elizabeth

Dixon, Everina

Dixon, Frances

Dixon, Mary ~ philosopher and historian

Dixon, Mary II ~ author

THE DREW WOMEN

(from Jessica Simpson)

Drew, Ashley ~ actor and singer

Drew, Birdie

Drew, Jessica ~ fashion designer and actor

Drew, Maxwell

Drew, Tina

THE DUGAN WOMEN

(from Paris Hilton)

Dugan, Alexia

Dugan, Brooke

Dugan, Farrah

Dugan, Kathleen

Dugan, Kathleen II ~ fashion designer

Dugan, Kim ~ actor

Dugan, Kimberly

Dugan, Kyle ~ actor

Dugan, Lily

Dugan, Nicholai ~ fashion designer

Dugan, Paris ~ fashion designer and DJ

Dugan, Portia

Dugan, Sophia

Dugan, Whitney

THE EARLY WOMEN

(from Cameron Diaz)

Early, Billie ~ import/export agent

Early, Cameron ~ producer and actor

Early, Chimene

Early, Raddix

THE FINLEY WOMEN

(from Miley Cyrus)

Finley, Brandi ~ actor and DJ

Finley, Destiny ~ singer and actor

Finley, Leticia ~ actor and producer

Finley, Noah ~ singer and actor

THE GARRITT WOMEN

(from Queen Elizabeth II)

Garritt, Ann II

Garritt, Annabel

Garritt, Anne

Garritt, Anne III ~ Olympic equestrian

Garritt, Caroline

Garritt, Cecilia

Garritt, Cecilia II

Garritt, Elizabeth

Garritt, Elizabeth II ~ Queen of England

Garritt, Frances

Garritt, Gertrude

Garritt, Hyacinth

Garritt, Ida

Garritt, Jean

Garritt, Lena

Garritt, Margaret ~ personal assistant

Garritt, Margaret II

Garritt, Mary

Garritt, Mary II

Garritt, Mary III

Garritt, Mia

Garritt, Rose

Garritt, Sarah ~ painter

Garritt, Victoria

Garritt, Violet

Garritt, Zara ~ Olympic equestrian

THE GOPALAN WOMEN

(from Kamala Harris)

Gopalan, Kamala ~ vice president

Gopalan, Lakshmi ~ policy advisor and lawyer

Gopalan, Meenakshi ~ fashion designer and lawyer

Gopalan, Shyamala ~ biomedical scientist

THE GOUWENS WOMEN

(from Angelina Jolie)

Gouwens, Angelina ~ actor and filmmaker

Gouwens, Debbie

Gouwens, Lois

Gouwens, Marcia ~ actor and humanitarian

THE HAJI WOMEN

(from Ilhan Omar)

Haji, Ilhan ~ congressperson

Haji, Isra ~ activist

Haji, Sahra ~ health care executive

THE HARRIS MEN AND WOMEN

(from Neil Patrick Harris)

Harris, Harper

Harris, Neil ~ actor and television host

THE HASKELL WOMEN

(from Alice Roosevelt Longworth)

Haskell, Alice

Haskell, Alice II

Haskell, Caroline

Haskell, Paulina

THE JACKSON WOMEN

(from Julie Cypher)

Jackson, Bailey

Jackson, Betty

Jackson, Julie ~ filmmaker

Jackson, Melanie

THE KNOLL MEN AND WOMEN

(from Cynthia Nixon)

Knoll, Anne ~ actor

Knoll, Cynthia ~ actor

Knoll, Max

THE LESSER WOMEN

(from Beyonce)

Lesser, Agnes ~ seamster

Lesser, Beyonce ~ singer and fashion designer

Lesser, Blue Ivy

Lesser, Celestine ~ fashion designer and beautician

Lesser, Josephine

Lesser, Odilia

Lesser, Rumi

Lesser, Solange ~ singer and fashion designer

THE LESLIE WOMEN

(from Matilda Joslyn Gage)

Leslie, Dorothy

Leslie, Helen

Leslie, Jocelyn ~ activist and radio announcer

Leslie, Julia

Leslie, Matilda ~ suffragist and abolitionist

Leslie, Maud ~ sewing instructor

THE LIVINGSTON WOMEN

(from Elizabeth Cady Stanton)

Livingston, Anna

Livingston, Anna II ~ radio show host and humanitarian

Livingston, Anna III ~ speech writer and newspaper editor

Livingston, Anna IV ~ librarian and editor

Livingston, Anna V

Livingston, Elizabeth ~ suffragist and historian

Livingston, Harriet ~ suffragist and historian

Livingston, Harriet II

Livingston, Mary

Livingston, Nora ~ civil engineer and architect

Livingston, Rhoda ~ architect and activist

THE LOMBARDI WOMEN

(from Nancy Pelosi)

Lombardi, Alexandra ~ journalist and filmmaker

Lombardi, Annunciata ~ activist

Lombardi, Christine ~ political strategist and attorney

Lombardi, Jacqueline

Lombardi, Nancy ~ Speaker of the House

Lombardi, Nancy II

THE MARTIN MEN AND WOMEN

(from Ricky Martin)

Martin, Enrique ~ singer and actor

Martin, Lucia

THE MCCASKILL WOMEN

(from Whitney Houston)

McCaskill, Anne

McCaskill, Bobbi ~ singer

McCaskill, Delia

McCaskill, Delia II ~ singer

McCaskill, Emily ~ singer

McCaskill, Lee

McCaskill, Marie

McCaskill, Marie II ~ singer and television host

McCaskill, Whitney ~ singer and actor

THE MCGUIRE MEN AND WOMEN

(from Caitlyn Jenner)

McGuire, Brandon ~ singer

McGuire, Burt ~ racecar driver and businessperson

McGuire, Cailtyn ~ Olympic decathlete and businessperson

McGuire, Esther

McGuire, Sam ~ model and DJ

THE MERRITT WOMEN

(from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis)

Merritt, Alexandra

Merritt, Anna ~ Princess of Poland

Merritt, Caroline ~ PR executive and former Princess of Poland

Merritt, Caroline II ~ diplomat and attorney

Merritt, Jacqueline ~ editor and photographer
Merritt, Janet

Merritt, Janet II ~ French teacher and activist

Merritt, Margaret

Merritt, Margaret II

Merritt, Marion

Merritt, Rose ~ actor and activist

Merritt, Tatiana ~ journalist and author

THE MILBANKE WOMEN

(from Ada Lovelace)

Milbanke, Anne

Milbanke, Anne II ~ horse breeder

Milbanke, Anne III

Milbanke, Augusta ~ mathematician and professional gambler

Milbanke, Judith

Milbanke, Judith II ~ horse breeder and tennis player

Milbanke, Winifred

THE MILNE WOMEN

(from Judy Garland)

Milne, Ethel ~ vaudevillian

Milne, Frances ~ actor and singer

Milne, Liza ~ actor and singer

Milne, Lorna ~ actor and singer

THE MORRIS WOMEN

(from Ashley Tisdale)

Morris, Ashley ~ actor and singer

Morris, Jennifer ~ actor and producer

Morris, Lisa

Morris, Mikayla

THE MURRAY WOMEN

(from Hillary Clinton)

Murray, Chelsea ~ news correspondent and author

Murray, Della

Murray, Dorothy ~ housekeeper

Murray, Hillary ~ university chancellor and former secretary of state

THE NIEDBALSKI WOMEN

(from Alex Sykes)

Niedbalski, Alex

Niedbalski, Olivia

THE PEOPLES MEN AND WOMEN

(from Wanda Sykes)

Peoples, Lucas

Peoples, Marion ~ banker

Peoples, Wanda ~ actor and comedian

THE PORTELL WOMEN

(from Britney Spears)

Portell, Britney ~ singer and actor

Portell, Ivey

Portell, Jamie Lynn ~ actor

Portell, Lillian

Portell, Lynne ~ teacher and daycare worker

Portell, Maddie

THE QUINE WOMEN

(from Emmeline Parkhurst)

Quine, Emmeline ~ suffragist

Quine, Helen ~ journalist

Quine, Mary Jane ~ suffragist

Quine, Sophia ~ suffragist

THE REED WOMEN

(from Elizabeth Warren)

Reed, Amelia ~ HR executive and management consultant

Reed, Elizabeth ~ senator and law professor

Reed, Pauline

THE ROBINSON WOMEN

(from Olave Baden-Powell)

Robinson, Agnes

Robinson, Anne

Robinson, Auriol

Robinson, Betty

Robinson, Eliza

Robinson, Heather

Robinson, Olave

THE ROSE WOMEN

(from Kelly Clarkson)

Rose, Alyssa

Rose, Jeanne ~ teacher

Rose, Kelly ~ singer and television host

Rose, River

THE ROSENBURG WOMEN

(from Dianne Feinstein)

Rosenburg, Betty ~ model

Rosenburg, Eileen ~ Electoral College member

Rosenburg, Dianne ~ senator and former nonprofit executive

Rosenburg, Katherine ~ judge and attorney

THE SCHWAB WOMEN

(from Katy Perry)

Schwab, Angela

Schwab, Daisy

Schwab, Katheryn ~ singer and fashion designer

Schwab, Mary ~ pastor

Schwab, Pauline ~ Alcoholics Anonymous aide

THE SERGEANT WOMEN

(from Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale)

Sergeant, Edith ~ singer

Sergeant, Edith II ~ model and singer

Sergeant, Maude

Sergeant, Maude II

Sergeant, Michelle

THE SIGGERS WOMEN

(from Aretha Franklin)

Siggers, Aretha ~ singer

Siggers, Barbara

Siggers, Carolyn ~ singer

Siggers, Erma ~ singer

Siggers, Sabrina

THE SMITH WOMEN

(from Demi Lovato)

Smith, Beverley ~ singer and musical theater actor

Smith, Dallas

Smith, Demetria ~ singer and actor

Smith, Dianna ~ cheerleader

Smith, Madison

THE STEWART WOMEN

(from Martha Bulloch Roosevelt)

Stewart, Anna

Stewart, Anna II

Stewart, Corinne ~ poet

Stewart, Corinne II ~ congressperson

Stewart, Corinne III

Stewart, Martha

Stewart, Martha II

Stewart, Susan

THE TATUM WOMEN

(from Hannath Whitall Smith)

Tatum, Hannah ~ religious writer and suffragist

Tatum, Mary

Tatum, Mary II ~ art historian

Tatum, Rachel ~ suffragist and writer

THE WASHINGTON WOMEN

(from Michelle Williams)

Washington, Anita

Washington, Cameron

Washington, Danielle

Washington, Tenitra ~ singer

THE WILLIAMSON MEN AND WOMEN

(from Melissa Etheridge)

Williamson, Beckett

Williamson, Elizabeth ~ computer consultant

Williamson, Johnnie

Williamson, Melissa ~ singer

Williamson, Miller

THE WOLCOTT WOMEN

(from Juliette Gordon Low)

Wolcott, Juliette

Wolcott, Juliette II

Wolcott, Juliette III ~ founder of Girl Scouts USA

When it comes to women taking their husband’s last name, and/or giving all of her kids her husband’s last name, there seem to be two camps: those who support the woman’s choice to do so, and those who hate the woman for doing so. It’s easier to focus on the woman’s role than the man’s: after all, it is her name. But most women report making the “choice” due to intense pressure from their fiance and his family. One Australian family reported that, after passing on the mother’s surname to all their children, the father’s parents refused to have any communication with the children.

Patriarchy is an ideology and system invented by men. The Western brand originated in ancient Mesopotamia with the advent of mechanized agriculture, circa 10,000 BCE. Archaeologists have linked it to the invention of the plow. The plow thing is true of Eastern patriarchy as well. When one does genetic, archaeological, prehistoric, historical, and cross-cultural analyses, one will find that patriarchy is not a biological inevitability, it has not existed “for all of time,” and men’s attitudes toward women varied widely across cultures. Key moments in the proliferation of Western patriarchy include the Code of Hammurabi, the male Greek philosophers, the military exploits of Alexander the Great, the Bible, the Quran, global coercive conversion to Christianity and Islam, and of course, global colonialism by Christian Europeans and the genocide of Indigenous Americans, many of whom had much better attitudes toward women (the Haudenosaunees and the Tainos being just two examples).

The continuance of patriarchal traditions, norms, and stereotypes today are primarily the fault of men. Internalized misogyny, which takes different forms from woman to woman, is also primarily the fault of men: fathers, boyfriends, male bosses and coworkers, harassers and trolls, and sexist movies, music, and advertising written, directed, and financed primarily by men. Misogynistic men are evil because ignorance in 2022 is unforgivable. I obtained all the information in this post for free. “I didn’t know” isn’t true. It’s a lie. What they’re really saying is, “I don’t care to know.”

So while one should not go on a witch hunt (another ancient patriarchal tradition) for women who take their husband’s last name and give all of their children, including their daughters, their husband’s last name, it is not unreasonable to hope for, and to even expect, more equitable traditions going forward. Always question the role of the man in the relationship. Sometimes a new surname really is 100 percent the woman’s idea: but most of the time it’s not.

For my part, I am using old family records to trace my matrilineage. So far, I have identified my 4x great grandmother, Kate Kiley, who was born in Ireland. The next step is to use Ancestry to go further. My mother’s father’s line is extensively well-documented, all the way back to the 1200s. It’s infuriating that the only records we have at home of my mother’s mother’s line only go back to the early nineteenth century, but again, that’s not surprising. I cannot say it enough how patrilocalism, patrilineage, and patriarchy separates female family members from one another and splinters the female identity.

Here is my matrilineage so far:

THE KILEY WOMEN

Kiley, Alice

Kiley, Anna

Kiley, Brette ~ copywriter (that’s me!)

Kiley, Darin ~ paralegal

Kiley, Dawn ~ paralegal

Kiley, Kate

Kiley, Kathryn

Kiley, Sylvia ~ nonprofit executive

I am going to legally change my name to the birth surname of the most distant matrilineal ancestor I can find. When one changes one’s surname in marriage, the process is free and easy. But when one changes one’s given name or surname for another reason, it is expensive and arduous. One must pay $435 AND publish the proposed name change in a newspaper in case anybody objects! More evidence that our society promotes and rewards the suppression of female identity.

But I don’t care how inconvenient it is, I’m doing it ASAP. My matrilineal name will appear on my birth certificate. My social security card. My driver’s license. My passport. My death certificate. Everything I accomplish in this life from that point on will bear that name. And I will emblazon it with pride. My taking this name will honor all of my female ancestors, because for a woman to adopt a last name not assigned by a man is a revolutionary act. By reclaiming my matrilineage, I will be reclaiming my female history and identity, and proving that history need not always be written by the oppressors.

From the time I was an adolescent girl, I was taught not to expect much from a male romantic partner, to take what I could get. That’s not a good stereotype for anybody, but it’s true, this was and is the omnipresent message society gives me. In a country where only 20 percent of men are feminists, all a woman can do is shut up, find love, and not die alone, right? But I encourage every woman to stay true to herself, and to break up (or get divorced) from anyone who pressures her to make a choice she does not want to make. To understand that she absolutely deserves any perk a man gets — including passing down her last name to her children. It’s a way to claim history for a group of people — women — who are wrongfully assumed not to have any.

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