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Zoe Saldana’s Husband Took Her Last Name

Photograph by Getty Images

Zoe Saldana stirred up some controversy when she revealed in an interview for the July issue of InStyle magazine that when she got married to Italian artist (and former pro soccer player) Marco Perego in 2013, he became Mr. Saldana — yes, as in he took her last name. What's more is that the whole thing was his idea, NOT Saldana's. How refreshing and utterly feminist of him is that? Very, but the odd thing is that Saldana actually tried to talk him out of it.

She recounts, "I told him, 'If you use my name, you're going to be emasculated by your community of artists, by your Latin community of men, by the world.' But Marco looks up at me and says [with his lovely thick Italian accent], 'Ah, Zoe, I don't give a sheet.'"

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The most interesting and compelling thing about this situation is not that Marco Perego wanted to take Saldana's last name because it seems in keeping with the modern, progressive and liberated male attitude he projects; the interesting part is that Saldana initially tried to dissuade him. Saldana is a strong woman, breaking stereotypes in Hollywood, so why would she be so beholden to conventionality?

Her revelation has made so many internet headlines that Saldana felt compelled to explain herself (rather eloquently, I might add) via her Facebook page. She wrote:

Can we just have a big round of applause here for Mr. Saldana? He loves his wife and proudly wanted to take her name and when she hesitated, he didn't let it go. Instead he asked her what she was so afraid of, which made her take a long look at herself and grow in a way that set her free from worry of what others would think about a man following his heart instead of convention.

And really, as she asks: "why is it so surprising, shocking, eventful that a man would take his wife's surname?" No one finds it shocking when a woman takes her husband's surname. No one asks her to explain her reasons; in fact, it's so expected that when a woman doesn't take her husband's last name, she finds herself having to explain why she didn't, time and time again. Uh, it could be for professional reasons, it could be because she has a cultural attachment to her maiden name, it could be because it's supposed to be a choice and not a given.

The way I see it, men like Saldana's husband who choose to take their wife's name are not in any way emasculated — what they are is liberated. Not only that, but they truly are redefining what masculinity means. "Real" men respect women as their equals and not just in private; they do it in public and set an example for other men (and women too). The couple's twin boys, Cy Aridio and Bowie Ezio, will definitely have a good example to follow.

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