Friday, July 11, 2008

What's in a name

So what is in a name? A surname to be exact?

Traditionally, in our culture, when a man and woman get married, she takes his last name. That's just the way it's been, and for the most part, the way it still is.

I never even thought about this tradition until I realized it soon will apply to me. Suddenly I had concerns.

Let me start out by saying that I am not a feminist. My concerns with this tradition have nothing to do with a patriarchal society, or the plight of women. My concerns are completely selfish. I like my name. After 28 years, it is more than just a signature. It represents the family I come from (which I'm fiercely proud of), the nicknames I've had, the woman I've become, and the hard work I've put forth both in school and in my career to build that name.

This internal conflict was not something I spent time pondering until my fiance expressed his heartfelt request that I take his name. I would imagine that this is my introduction to marriage—suddenly such a personal decision is not mine to make alone. It will affect him as well as any children we might have.

The conflict was even more troublesome because my fiance is so invested in me changing something so intertwined with my identity. By the way, the "it's just what people do" argument doesn't cut it. I need a better reason than that.

The conversation over my future identity lingered with me all week. I've been circling the office with my questions regarding this tradition.

"Are you changing your name when you get married? Are you ok with the new name?"

And to all the married women, "Was it difficult to get used to? Did you ever consider not changing your name?"

Mind you, this is not a very scientific study. I did not get a good representative sample of the US. These women are all my age, close to my income bracket, and working in the same geography, industry and office. I shouldn't be surprised that many of them shared my concerns. The end result was typically the same—They changed or will be changing their names.

I love my fiance and his family. This has NOTHING to do with his name and EVERYTHING to do with mine. Like I said, this is probably my first lesson in being married - get over yourself already!

Don't worry baby, I'll do it but there might be kicking and screaming along the way!


Mo said...

Yikes. This is too serious for me to comment on! :) Can I still call you Em Tat Owwwww!?

Jessica Hagy said...

I offer my experience: I never considered changing mine. Not for a fraction of a moment.

Everybody's different.

monkers27 said...

I'm with you sis!

I kinda feel like i'm a 5 year old in the checkout lane screaming "but i want to keep my name"

Barracuda said...

My last name was Shave. LIKE YOU SHAVE YOUR ARMPITS.

El Guapo Sanchez said...

Ah, no aun mi esposa, pero pronto... El invierno cercano.
Me gustaria grande la luna de miel.
!Me gustan las vacaciones!