Friday, August 14, 2009

My Name Might Just Cause the End of Civilization as We Know It

Evidently 70% of American's think I am a bad wife and 50% think the government should put me in line.

No, really. My most recent post for Mother Jones is about a national study on family and gender issues, the results of which shocked even the researchers.

Frankly, I agree with Jessica at Feministing who originally linked to the article. I think choosing one's name is a personal decision and marriage may or may not be the catalyst for why someone chooses to change it. There might be many reasons a woman chooses to drop the last name she was born with. And people change their name all the time for other reasons. Call yourself Princess Sparklebutt - if that is how you identify, more power to 'ya.

In my case, I am the daughter of a feminist who decided to keep her last name and adopt my dad's. She then passed down the convention to both my sister and I. I think its great. My middle name is pretty damn interesting and unique (at least in this country). So when it came to what I was going to do, it wasn't necessarily an either/or option for me. I didn't necessarily want to adopt my husband's last name, but in the end the decision was pretty easy.

We were sitting on the couch one day before the wedding - not actually talking about anything having to do with the wedding (for once), when he said:
You're not going to change your name are you?
Turns out, in his view, the person he fell in love with was the person I was then, name and all, and that is who he wanted to marry - and that, is one of the many reasons I wanted to marry him.

We toyed around with other options: making a new combo one, or both of us adopting my middle name. But, we eventually decided (after all of ten minutes) to stick with the names were already had. It might just be because I'm lazy, but it seems like that is the easiest decision. Correcting well meaning in-laws and friends a few times is much easier than having to make sure my last name is changed on every sort of official documentation, work correspondence, and online account.

And guess what? The world has not come to an end.


  1. I am fascinated by this topic and am so thrilled to read your take on it.
    I'm wondering if you are still surprised, as I am, that so many women our age are changing their last names. Maybe it's because I still remember figuring out that not only was having your moms last name as your middle name not 'normal', but having a mom with her original last name was something of an oddity too. I guess as a kid I assumed that changing your name went out with the burning of the bras.
    In fact, I'd love to pick your brain more on this topic...
    (p.s. There's a whole story here, but my mom actually did change her name, for about three years, then changed it back. She said she couldn't stop looking around for her mother-in-law.)

  2. Oh, we can definitely talk about it more. But, actually I have been surprised at how many women our age (if facebook is any indicator)have decided to keep or modify their middle/last names.

  3. Hello Stephanie. I stoked to see you are writing for Mother Jones (I'm a subscriber), and I've always wondered about the whole name-change issue. Like you I also have a 12-character double last name thanks to my parents. I've always wanted an easier to pronounce shorter last name and figured all would be solved if I got married to someone who fit my self-imposed seven character limit. Time will tell...

  4. Thanks Liz, I know a couple of folks who decided to change their name just because they liked their husbands better.
    PS:It so awesome to know your a MoJo subscriber!

  5. My mom took my dad's name when they married because that's just How Things Were. Years went by and she *never* felt like a Tucker, so she eventually got a legal name change back to her original name (while remaining married to my dad).

    Name changing never came up for me because I married a Costa Rican in Costa Rica, and they don't do that here. (Making things that much simpler when we divorced, I might add.)

    Everyone has two last names here - one from each parent. The first one is the one you inherit from your father, and it's the one that is passed along to your kids. So it's still male-line dominated, but the mother's name is in there for one generation anyway.

    The cool part is that if my kids ever live in the the US, it'll be my last name that people will latch onto as "the" last name, because it's the actual last one. And the first last name - the Costa Rican one - is "the" last name here in Costa Rica.


be nice.


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