In this week’s Wednesday 5: Choosing your married or maiden name is still a dilemma; Diana Nyad’s strength and discipline in recovering from failure; one woman’s fight to create Lebanon’s first marathon; the biggest honor in British comedy goes to comedian Bridget Christie; and the gender divide in social media usage (this time some of it is a good thing).



Two-Name System

To take your partner’s name or not? That is the question we’re still debating, apparently. Pamela Paul, in a piece for The New York Times, “The Problem That Has Two Names,” unearthed what on the surface might seem like an antiquated dilemma, but turns out it’s not quite. “The problem of married versus maiden names should be good and solved. But many women are still caught in an in-between purgatory: why have to choose?” Choosing to go by two names, married and maiden, she says, might sound great conceptually, but it gets tricky in the demands of daily life: at security checkpoints when traveling, paying taxes, establishing professional reputations, credit cards, etc. And when it comes to the family unit, Paul questions: “Isn’t our shared name part of what unites us as a family? Why would I want to set myself apart?” Of course, the big elephant in the room is,  What happens in the event of divorce? What becomes of the name?

Read more at “The Problem Has Two Names,” The New York Times.



Diana Nyad

We can’t get enough of Diana Nyad. Neither can the rest of the world, and rightly so! What she has accomplished at 64—completing a 53-hour, 110-mile swim from Havana to the shores of Key West without protection from sharks (after four failed attempts)—embodies what Women’s Voices for Change stands for—reinvention (and determination). Our publisher, Dr. Patricia Yarberry Allen, who with bated breath followed Nyad’s story over the weekend, wrote about what a major moment this was for women and girls. 

The story will continue in the voices of loving mothers across time and many lands. . . Diana Nyad’s story will always deliver a message of hope to the mothers of these daughters—and to all women who are no longer young as well.

What strikes us most about Nyad’s story is not so much her moment of triumph on Sunday, but the strength and discipline she showed in recovering from failure. Those failures and challenges, and how she overcame them, are detailed in the 2011 CNN documentary below on one of Nyad’s remarkable journeys, “Diana Nyad: Xtreme Dream.”

Diana Nyad: Xtreme Dream


May El-Khalil of Lebanon Creates the Country’s First Marathon

While Diana Nyad swam her marathon race, another woman, May El-Khalil, halfway around the world in Lebanon, created the Beirut International Marathon, the largest running event in the Middle East. She tells us in a TED Talk that in the war-torn country, “there is one gunshot a year that isn’t part of a scene of routine violence—the marathon.” Instead, the 26.2-mile running event “brings together a country divided for decades by politics and religion, even if for one day a year.



Bridget Christie Wins Edinburgh Prize for Comedy

At this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the biggest honor in British comedy went to comedian Bridget Christie, whose show A Bic For Her (inspired by Bic’s colorful “female friendly” pens) holds up a mirror to sexism, chauvinism, and a whole lot of other negative “isms.” It’s a laudable accomplishment, since Christie is only the third woman to win the prize for a solo show. Christie is also the star of a BBC TV show about feminism called Bridget Christie Minds the Gap. See a short excerpt from A Bic for Her below.



Women and Social Media

If you’re following Women’s Voices, you’re probably one of our faithful social media followers. (If not, here is our Twitter and Facebook!) Social Media Today has condensed a host of new data out on how women and men use social media differently. As it turns out, social media is a powerful platform for women’s voices (and buying power) and women in turn are leveraging it strategically. See, for example, Fast Company‘s recent list of the 25 of the Smartest Women on Twitter. Here’s how the recent data breaks down:

  • 71 % of women vs. 62% of men use social networking sites.
  • Each month, 40 million more women use Twitter than men.
  • Women are behind 52% of the sharing of information on Facebook.
  • Women are 70% of Pinterest’s users. 

Gender and Social Media

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  • Hal Minor January 29, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    I think it’s odd to expect all the gendered traditions of engagement and marriage except the name change, such as the man being the one expected to buy the woman a diamond engagement ring, getting down on one knee to propose, and wearing a wedding ring even if he hates wearing jewelry. In the context of dispensing with all of that, ditching the name change too makes perfect sense.

  • Toni Myers September 11, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    I still do not understand why so few women, under 20%, keep their own names after marriage. Hyphenated names are fine as well. I did not know it was so pricey to make changes, as Ellen notes. How many men would give up their birth name when they marry? The world is changing all the time, so this statistic amazes me. I am going to ask my kids if it was an issue to them, guessing this is why so many women want uniformity in family names. I do not think they had problems. My daughter is married with 2 kids and has thought about making the change, but after 6 years still has her birth name.

  • ellen sue spicer-jacobson September 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    The name game is a tricky one. I use my married name (Jacobson) most of the time, but as a writer who used Spicer, my grandmother’s name which I took after my divorce, I use Spicer-Jacobson. Seems to work out ok, except my name is quite long: Ellen Sue Spicer-Jacobson.
    But I don;t want to give up Spicer, because I paid $500 to change my name from my maiden name. I liked it when I had the choice to change my name & don’t want to relinquish it.

  • Toni Myers September 4, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Women’s last names, a complicated issue. I like that we have long been free to make our own choices, adding diversity to the world of surnames. Years back, I quietly took back my birth name, just because I could and because I now carry my beloved grandmother’s name, Antoinette Bennett Myers. Yes, it included her married name, but I like to think she might have chosen differently had the choice been available to her. In some countries, Spain for example, women have always kept their birth names, adding spouse’s name with a “de”…