Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: What's In A Name?


I like to think I'm a feminist.  Everyone has their own idea of what that means - though Jezebel declares (in classic NSFW style) that everyone's a feminist regardless - but my idea is that it means I have the right to make whatever choices I want for my own well-being as long as they don't hurt anyone else.  So, even though some argue that taking your husband's surname is succumbing to a patriarchal culture that oppresses women, I hereby announce that I'm going to be changing my name when Jon and I get married.

To be honest, when I thought about this post in my head it had more exclamation points.  It had more insistence and more urgency and more don't-you-dare-take-away-my-right-to-make-this-decision emphasis.  But then I turned to the internet for something to rail against and found... not much, actually.  The majority of the articles I discovered that were written by women who kept their maiden names after marriage were thoughtful and respectful.  They said all of the things I expected about gender inequality and not wanting to become property and loss of autonomy but they also agreed that every woman should be able to make the choice whether or not to take her husband's last name for herself.

So you don't get a militant post from me today, dear readers; I'm sorry if you were hoping for something explosive, but I guess it really is that simple.  I'll be changing my name when Jon and I get married because I like the symbolism, I like the tradition, and I like the simplicity.  Interestingly, Jon says that he always assumed his future wife would take his surname, but he didn't feel strongly either way.  So it's my choice and I'm making it: even though it'll be a total bureaucratic pain, after August 24th I will become Mrs. Betsy [redacted].


If you want to read more of my non-militant and romantic thoughts, head over to Case Study,
where I'm with a few other girls talking about our perfect date nights!

Also, this is the last day to enter my giveaway, so click here if you haven't yet!

43 comments:

  1. For as long as I remember, I was always a little hesitant about changing my last name but not necessarily for the 'feminist' reasons. I identify with my last name, I like it, I like the way it sounds, I like that it's mine. I didn't take Joe's name but it wasn't really a fully thought out decision. We were married in Gabon and have lived overseas since - the nightmare that would be paperwork from a developing country just wasn't an option. I figured once we moved home I would do the necessary steps but I suppose I'm still undecided. Joe is pretty ambivalent about it so I'm certainly not pressured to change it and the longer I keep my own name the less appealing changing it is.
    I've vowed to re-evaluate should kids come into the picture - one common name would definitely be simpler.

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  2. One of the first conversations my fiancé and I had after getting engaged was what my name would be. I had always figured since we don't want children that it wouldn't be a big deal to keep my last night, however I learned during our conversation that he really wanted me to take his name. Ultimately the decision was mine but knowing that it was important to him and reflecting on the idea that taking his name symbolized us becoming a family together rather than an societal expectation makes it something that I am excited to do. I am looking forward to having his name and starting our lives together. Everyone tells me what a pain it is with all of the paperwork but secretly I am looking forward to all of it and in the meantime I like practicing signing what my new name will look like.

    Alana

    http://cheapchictravler.com

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  3. I'll be changing my last name too...love the tradition and it helps that I've always disliked my last name. haha! :)

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  4. interestingly enough, here in italy women don't take their husband's last name. and to be honest, for me it would be like losing a piece of my identity. of course everyone is different though!

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  5. This is a really thoughtful post. Changing one's name also symbolizes that the family has become one unit...maybe the choice of the man's last name over the woman is patriarchal, but to me it's more of an incidental consequence of a patriarchal past than a yolk on the modern woman. I am, however, considering keeping my maiden name professionally- to be honest, mostly because I will lose some of my cultural identity if I change my name from Christakis to Eldrige. What are your thoughts on the word 'equalist' over the word 'feminist'?

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  6. It's a pain to change your name {especially when you're trying to update your resume, professional publications, online identity, and ten zillion pieces of government ID}, but I did it because I like the idea of going from two people to one family, one team, and it was the right decision for us. It is a personal decision, though, and every couple is different. Writing a blog post about this right after my marriage opened my eyes quite a bit, though, because I got three emails from male readers who had been the ones to change their names! Who knew that was so common?

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  7. not that I'm anywhere close to getting married, but I've had this debate with myself so many times I don't even know what to think. I absolutely love my last name - it's simple and "normal" (and thus people can spell it no problem), but all the same I wouldn't mind having something a little less...common. I guess it depends on what future hubby's last name turns out to be - and on what my professional situation is like at the point in life.

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  8. Before we got married, I was trying to convince Justin to do a hybrid last name - we could both change our last name to Dillovich (Dillmore + Churgovich). I thought it was a great idea, but it didn't fly. He said he didn't care if I took his last name or not, but he wasn't going to change his. I was upset by his unwillingness to compromise at first, but I think it's harder for guys to consider because up until recently, they never had to. It isn't even close to assumed that the guy will change their names while most girls realize someday that their name will change. In the end, I, like you, had to just be happy with the fact that I do have a choice. No one forced me to change my last name, and that makes the decision easier. I really wanted us to be a family unit "The Dillmores" and like having the same last name (though I still think Dillovich has a nice ring to it ;) ). Anyway, in this day and age, the choice is ours - and whatever one we make we should do proudly! It's no better to guilted into not changing your last name than it is to be guilted in to changing it.
    Whew. That was long.

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  9. ugh I didn't even think about how much of a pain it would be to do from another country! you are making me find silver linings to our situation :)

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  10. haha I practice my new signature ALL THE TIME. (Jon was a little freaked out when he discovered this...)

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  11. haha oh no! well, I guess it's good then that you have a new one that you like :)

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  12. that is SO interesting - I never would have thought that about Italy! also, in England, traditionally (or at least it used to be the tradition), if a man marries a woman who came from a wealthier or more noble family, he'd take HER name!

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  13. I TOTALLY get the cultural identity argument. And if, say, my family had undergone a horrific something in the past that led to the name dying with me, I might feel differently. I guess it's all about the situation?


    what does "equalist" mean? Without Googling it, I'd say that my brand of feminism doesn't require women to be equal to men; it requires women to have the same access to choices that men do. does that make sense?

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  14. oh I'd love to read your post! can you point me to it?


    I did think about starting this new job with my new name, even though I'd be in this position for 8 months before legally changing my name, because it would maybe make things easier down the road. But I guess the pain is a rite of passage!

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  15. TRUE to those things.

    when I was younger - let's face it, through college - I could never imagine "Betsy" with any of my crushes/boyfriends' surnames. I could imagine "Elizabeth," which is my given name, but never "Betsy." Jon is the first boy I practiced saying "Betsy XXX" for!

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  16. one of my best friends (HI HANNAH!) and her now-husband considered smooshing up their surnames, too! But they hypenated in the end. Actually, I don't know if he did or just she did? We have family friends where the wife was Miss F and the husband was Mr E and he's now still Mr E but she's Mrs F-E... man, it is SO complicated!

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  17. I debated a bit over changing my name. I ended up changing it mostly because my maiden name is very rare (the only people with it are related to me within 3 generations) and since I've not got a relationship with my dad, I didn't really want to maintain that connection. Really it came down to realizing that I liked Paul a whole lot more than my dad. So I'd rather have my most visible attachment be to him. To be honest, though, if I had a "normal" (what is that??) relationship with my dad, I'd probably have kept my maiden name, because to me, changing the name is just not important to me. Paul's said he would have argued a bit since I didn't have a professional identity yet or anything, but he's more traditional than I am anyway.




    But let's face it, with a name like "Gesci", I could just be like Cher or Madonna anyway. :)

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  18. I like Dillovich as well, those blend nicely! We joked a bit about a combined name, but there really wasn't a good way to combine our two last names without it sounding clunky and awkward.

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  19. The only thing I changed my last name on right away was my Social Security card. I'm so lazy I only got around to changing the rest a couple of weeks ago. Our one year anniversary was looming in the future, and I knew I had to get it done before then haha.


    It's funny, growing up I absolutely HATED my last name. The only thing that I liked about it was that it was short and different. Then I met my husband and I thought his last name was beautiful and knew I would take it. However, it's made my name even longer and more complicated for people and I kind of find myself regretting it! :P

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  20. Look at you, writing a Wedding Wednesday post I actually like!

    I'll probably go with my husband's last name, unless it's truly horrid, in which case I'll use the excuse that my business name is based on my initials (and then I'm screwed if his last name starts with B). Kidding! (Mostly.) I'm sure I'll take his last name and just display my maiden name on my site so it makes sense. I haven't spoken to my dad or his side of the family since I was litte, so I have no sentimental attachment to the name.

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  21. I have never regretted changing my last name, and love that everyone in our family, our kids included share the name. But I also would never begrudge someone the choice to keep their name. I did, however, go from a very common last name to one that is always mispronounced, as is my first name, so that is the only bummer :)

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  22. Nadine//Back East BlondeFebruary 13, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    This is definitely something people feel strongly about. I've always known I would take my future husband's last name. As a child who grew up in a household with multiple last names, I wasn't a fan. I wanted one name on the mailbox. I actually wrote a whole post about it here: http://www.backeastblonde.com/2012/06/why-ill-take-my-husbands-last-name.html

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  23. YOU ARE LIKE CHER. duh.


    (we'll talk about the dad stuff elsewhere... haha!)

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  24. actually, I meant to ask you earlier if Cara-Mia was your real first name! It's BEAUTIFUL. is your family Italian?

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  25. haha you just like that I was tempted to be militant :P but THANK you.

    I actually know a ton of women who use their maiden name professionally and their married name socially - it wouldn't work with all jobs, but good for you if you can keep everything straight! I'm not that coordinated...

    also, I swear to God I know a girl named Kara Peterson who married a boy whose last name was also Peterson. she couldn't have planned it better for the monograms!

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  26. it makes you more unique? both our surnames can be mispronounced, so I'll just have to learn a new way to correct people :)

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  27. you are so right. families are messy, and you can't choose the one you're born into! but you DO choose the one you marry into, for better or for worse. I like that way of looking at it!

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  28. I was so young when I got married that I really didn't even think about it much at the time. It was weird to change from what I'd had for 21 years, but just seemed like the thing to do. In the end, I feel the same way you do about it - I like to think I'm a feminist too, but there's something nice about the change to symbolize this special bond we share...

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  29. Thanks! Not Italian though. I am half Mexican though from a predominantly Mexican area. Cara-Mia means "my face" in Spanish, so I got teased a lot and didnt like my name for a long time.

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  30. Girl, I'm totally with you. I definitely consider myself somewhat of a feminist but I was happy to take my husband's name. It's just a symbol of our families becoming one. I never considered the implications that it had, but it's my choice. That's what's important.

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  31. so - playing devil's advocate here - would you/one make the same choice if you/one knew all the implications and arguments? hm. can you/one be too informed? ah!

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  32. I'm such a feminist and not even afraid to flaunt it (I had an amazing Psychology of Women professor at university who changed my life about the subject) but I am also taking Alex's surname with no shame. I didn't even think about keeping my surname. I wanted to; culture didn't force me to and neither did Alex. I never really liked my surname anyway (I actually tried to change it to my moms maiden name when I was 12..... my dad was not too pleased... my parents were also divorced and I lived with my mom so I didn't see what the big deal was). So changing my surname is not for Alex, it's for ME. At least, that's the way I feel about it!

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  33. I think equalist is pretty much a synonym for feminist used by people who see feminism as the radical militaristic type that came about in the 1960s and are more averse to those particular connotations word. To me, it makes no difference what word you use, but a close friend brought it up once and I was curious to know if you knew anything about it. I agree about the equal options, rather than man = woman. and better maternity leave policies in the workplace would be great, too :) happy valentine's day!

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  34. I think this choice is entirely up to the individual woman. People might choose to keep their own names for all sorts of reasons, and not necessarily because of feminism. I've gone the hyphen root; I wanted to take my husband's name as a way of joining us together as a unit, and to have the same last name as our future children, but I've kept my own as well as a way to honor my father and my life before my husband. I know it may sound strange, but it would have felt odd for me to cut that tie with myself and my past; like I was losing a small bit of myself.

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  35. oh no! well, in Italian it means "my dear" or "my darling" so we can stick with that :)

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  36. ah! yeah, I'm with you on no difference what word you use - because even if 10 people use the same word, they'll have 10 different definitions for it!

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  37. UGH I want to go back to school to take classes like that!

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  38. I totally get that! I think names symbolize something unique to each of us, and there's so much history wrapped up in that.

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  39. Absolutely not. I've always known that I would do it. I understand the reasons not to, but the reasons to do it outweigh not doing it for me.

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  40. And 'absolutely not' meaning I would have made the same decision. haha, I'm loopy.

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  41. Even though I am nowhere close to getting married, I will probably take my mothers reasoning for changing hers: She wanted to same last name as her kids. Even though she was married previously before my dad and she didn't change her name in that marriage, that is the reason she gave, which I liked a lot.

    I probably won't change it right away (I had a friend do it like the same day she got married and then complained when she had to carry like 10 sheets of paper around with her on her honeymoon!) and just do it gradually when all my id's start to expire. I am so lazy.

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  42. Let me be the first to say, people need to do what makes them happy...and I'm all about supporting that. Go for it girl!

    But, from my perspective, it honestly never even occurred to me to change my name. I've always, even as a little girl, thought it kind of weird that people changed their name. And when men are asked if they'd be willing to change theirs, most of them respond "but it's my *name*!"...right...gentlemen, you've just made my point.


    Unusually, Steve never cared one way or the other, believing it was wholeheartedly my name and my choice, to do with what I wished (this is why we're married!). He was, however, in favor of both of us changing our names to something a little more socially helpful -- like Vanderbilt, Gates, or Buffet (Warren, not Jimmy). ;)


    The other reality that I'm VERY aware of (because everyone in my family is twice divorced), is, 50% of marriages end in divorce, which means, 50% of women (at least the ones who changed their names) have to figure out what to do with their name. Keep it? Change it back? Are there kids? What if they get remarried? Change it again? etc.


    I, personally, think changing last names is as unusual as changing first names -- even though it's culturally common, it feels incredibly strange. But, I'm always pleased when people consider it and then make a choice one way or the other -- that thought is put into the decision -- versus blindly following the norm because other Americans do (and so many other cultures do not...i.e. in Quebec, it's illegal for a woman to take her husband's last name). So, good on you for thinking about it and doing what feels best for your new family :) xx

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I love reading your thoughts and suggestions! Please do leave a comment so we can get to know each other better.