Jlo: Jennifer, Ben and surnames: can the woman/brand become ‘Mrs. Affleck’? | Culture
After 18 years of waiting, the wedding bells have finally rung. Jennifer Lopez, 52, and Ben Affleck, 49 – one of the most fascinating and high profile couples of the early 2000s and one of the most promising surprise couples after the harsh years of the pandemic – have married last weekend in Las Vegas. It was the perfect ending for a romantic comedy about reunions and second chances, the kind of movie that would star someone like Jennifer Lopez. After flowers and champagne, and a selfie of J.Lo lying in bed the next morning, looking content and happy with her new life, Jennifer Lopez shared her wedding details in her newsletter On the J.Lo.
Instead of the huge wedding they had planned in 2003 that never happened, the couple this time opted for something quick, simple and intimate: “Stay long enough and you might find the best time ever at a Las Vegas drive-in at half past twelve in the morning in the tunnel of love drive-in, with your kids and the one you’ll spend forever with. Love is a big thing, maybe the best thing, and it’s worth the wait.” Beyond describing the guest list and the dresses the singer chose for the occasion, the letter ended with one last curious detail, a new identity.She signed her newsletter “With love, Mrs. Jennifer Lynn Affleck”.
According People magazine, which accessed the couple’s marriage license from the Clark County Clerk’s Office in Nevada, the name Benjamin Geza Affleck appears registered as Part 1 and Jennifer Lopez is listed as Part 2; however, in the “new name” section, the singer appears as Jennifer Affleck. This decision has sparked some criticism, especially on social networks. As some have pointed out, it’s an odd move for someone like Jennifer Lopez, whose name itself is a personal brand that the artist hasn’t been shy about redefining at various stages, from Jenny From The Block to the acclaimed J.Lo, and who in recent years has been selling female empowerment and female individuality through songs like “Ain’t Your Mama.”
Despite the criticism, Jennifer Lopez has made a very common decision: in the United States, about 70% of women still choose to take their husband’s last name after marriage, according to a survey by The New York Times, one of the most comprehensive studies conducted in recent years. Although the number of women who do so has decreased compared to previous generations, there is still a strong cultural tradition of women changing their surnames, despite the fact that women are no longer legally or financially penalized for retaining their surname. maiden name.
As journalist Sharon Brandwein explained in Brides magazine, the bible of brides in the United States, a woman taking her husband’s surname is a patriarchal tradition: “Under English common law, the cover affirmed that once married, the identity of a woman was “covered” by her husband. From the time of her marriage, a woman was known as a “secret woman” or cover woman; she and her husband have essentially become one. With her identity essentially erased under cover law, the women could not own property or enter into contracts on their own. Husbands had complete control over their wives, legally and financially.
Times have changed and the patriarchal tradition has now become a romance-based custom; it has the same symbolism as wearing something old, something borrowed, and something blue, or the bride given to him by his father at his wedding. According to a BBC report on the subject, there are two main reasons for keeping this tradition alive in the 21st century: “The first was the persistence of patriarchal power (whether it was obvious to couples or not). The second was the “good family” ideal – the feeling that having the same name as your partner symbolizes commitment, and it binds you and any potential children together as a unit.
Commitment and unity are exactly the two values conveyed by the name of Jennifer Lynn Affleck: a statement of purpose that ends the narrative that J.Lo herself has controlled since she got back together with Ben Affleck, whom she call the love of his life. . This time, however, Jennifer Lopez took charge of reporting before the media. The couple have pointed out in numerous interviews that they feel the press was the main cause of the breakdown of their previous relationship; the media constantly harassed them and the couple came under intense scrutiny.
For the couple, the Affleck surname suggests the fourth time is the charm: there’s no clear record of whether J.Lo changed her surname in any of her previous three marriages. Without the newsletter, we don’t know if she was Jennifer Noa, Jennifer Judd, or Jennifer Anthony at other times in her life. However, there is evidence of a video from 2003, shot as part of a special prime time interview with Go to Hollywood about the high-profile couple, which resurfaced on social media. In this one, J.Lo cooks an omelette while journalist Pat O’Brien asks her what her name will be after she gets married: “Jennifer Lopez,” she replies without hesitation, “but my name will be Jennifer Affleck, obviously”. Jennifer Lopez separated her work as an artist — or rather the J.Lo brand (the top-selling millionaire with her own skincare and fragrance lines, among others) — from her life as a wife. Jennifer Lopez will continue to be a singer, actress and dancer on stage, in front of the cameras, on the red carpet and at awards shows, but in private she will be Jennifer Affleck, lovingly protecting this small part of the relationship that has almost terminated due to overexposure in 2003.
The intense scrutiny of Lopez’s latest newsletter signature is also tinged with misogyny: Few have given much thought to Ben Affleck’s decision to keep his own last name, as if the possibility of a Ben Lopez or a B.Lo was unimaginable. It is still rare for men to take their wife’s surname. But Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck could be that rare case. After all, they are already an exception: a couple who, after an 18-year separation that included several marriages (some of which were even happy) between the two, got back together as more mature and wiser people to try again. And it works.
The possibility of Ben Lopez would be a twist on the patriarchal tradition. As Álex Grijelmo pointed out in a recent column aptly titled “Women stripped of their surnames”, just because a tradition is widespread does not mean that it is not divisive: “Machismo does not is not situated in the linguistic system, then, because casuistry can go beyond any theory; misogyny instead resides in asymmetries in the way we use language. One of these asymmetries is the loss of a woman’s family name; she is stripped of her identity and receives that of her husband. Jennifer Lynn Affleck is free to choose her identity. Ben Affleck would be too. Their story had a happy ending, but one final surprise may be missing.