Red Flags

Why am I watching “Kim’s Fairytale Wedding,” about Kim Kardashian’s nuptials? I don’t know. Why do I even know who Kim Kardashian is? No idea. And yet here we are. And *SPOILER* Kim’s husband (who is some basketball player, I think? Unclear, I’m not watching that closely) wants her to change her name, and she says ok, and then she says wait I am Kim Fucking Kardashian and my name is a brand so maybe not? and then he acts like a big whiny titty-baby. But then Kim’s dad isn’t alive anymore, and Kim is sad he’s not there, and so her husband is like Well I guess it’s cool if she keeps her name because it was her dad’s and it’s one thing she can have of his.

So, look: I actually do have a fundamental problem with the expectation that women change their names. Yes, I know we all choose our choice and blah blah, but I think it’s really fucked up that it’s really only a “choice” that’s offered to women and that there’s so much pressure about “tradition” and “family” and unspoken expectations that you’re Really Committed and Really Love Your Husband, and that in 2011 the whole concept of marriage still involves dissolving your own identity into your husband’s. I am not going to pretend that I am a fan of the name-change. I am not even going to pretend that I don’t get a tiny bit internally judgy, or at least frustrated, when I scroll through my facebook feed and see all of these names I don’t recognize. But also — and this is not a new observation — we all make compromises in our lives, and we all do the best we can against the very strong tide of social norms, and a lot of really unfeminist social norms can also make us feel good, as name-changing reportedly does for some reason (something I honestly don’t comprehend, but people are different). Some battles aren’t worth fighting, and some people tie a lot to tradition even if those traditions are totally fucked up, so ok. I mean, my feet are all fucked up from years of wearing high heels and I continue to wear them anyway, so, glass houses and whatnot.

But you know what is a huge red flag? If your fiance pitches a fit about you hesitating to change your name. Actually, I think it’s a pretty big red flag if your fiance pressures you in any way to change your name. Having a discussion is one thing; having him be like, “You should take my name” and then getting salty if you push back is kind of a dick move. And I know, I know, I just called a whole lot of dudes dicks on the internet, so cue comment blow-up about how maybe all of these dudes are just really nice guys who want a family unit and tradition and and and and. Fine. If a dude pressures you to take his name, suggest he take your name and watch him literally laugh in your face. A dude who wants you to subvert your own identity for his because you are The Lady is probably not the most woman-friendly dude, you know?

Author: has written 5268 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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629 Responses

  1. Karen
    Karen October 10, 2011 at 9:53 pm |

    When I was trying to decide whether or not to change my name (I ended up not…it felt completely wrong), my husband said, “If you don’t feel strongly one way or another, you should just do what’s easiest.” It is perhaps telling that I presumed keeping my name was easiest (no forms or licenses to change), but he thought me changing my name was easiest (no social norms to challenge). Can’t say I’m proud/thrilled with that exchange.

  2. apricoco
    apricoco October 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm |

    I’m twice married. I bowed to all kinds of pressure and bu*****t and whatever the first time I got married and changed my name without really giving it a lot of thought. I mean, I kinda pondered it for a while and was mostly ambivalent about the whole thing; he, on the other hand, was VERY INSISTENT that I change it. It was one of the most identity-shattering things I have ever done. I felt like I didn’t know who I was anymore for about three or four months (Advice to all who follow: don’t do it). Looking back on it, I should have taken his persistence about the topic as fair warning. Ahem… Divorce followed two-and-a-half years later.

    But, for a lot of reasons, the name change ended up working in my benefit. My maiden name ended up being ‘similar’ to one that was on the do-not-fly list (it’s a very nondescript irish-catholic name, mind you). I think it’s because someone with the same last name as mine and related to a former police chief got arrested for drug trafficking, with planes or some shit. When I changed my name, *poof* all my troubles with flying and the TSA wanting to cavity search me every time I flew magically disappeared overnight. That’s a great security theater system you got there TSA, security only as long as the terrorists are stupid enough to use the same name all the time!

    When divorce time rolled around I just kept my (formerly) married name. I couldn’t deal with the hassle of changing it back and frankly, the prospect of going back was rather expensive at a time when I was in financial shambles. Now, I’m remarried. I SWORE to myself that I would NEVER ever change my name again. For any reason. So, here I am married with my ex-husband’s last name to my new husband who couldn’t give a flying… well… you know.

  3. Véronique
    Véronique October 10, 2011 at 10:08 pm |

    The fact that women are still expected to take their husband’s surname, and that so many women seem to think this is normal and not even worth thinking about, is one of those things that make me wonder what year this is. I’m glad that in Canada it seems to be a lot more common for women to keep their names when they get married. That reduces the social pressure.

    If it’s really a choice (an informed choice), great. But I wish we would stop thinking of it as expected. If name changes worked in both directions, then I would see no particular significance in it. But the fact that it’s pretty much always the woman who takes the man’s name means the tradition (one that goes back to women as property) should be questioned.

  4. Anonymouse
    Anonymouse October 10, 2011 at 10:12 pm |

    Yeah, exactly. That was my dealbreaker: a dude who had any feelings in favor of name-changing wasn’t even dating material. I’d bring that up on first date. Just casually drop it into conversation and watch them squirm. I knew my husband was It when I realized he just had no feelings about the issue whatsoever. Even dudes who argue that women shouldn’t change their names have too much…ego, I guess, invested into the issue.

  5. Keeley
    Keeley October 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm |

    Yeah, both of my brothers have stated outright that if their girlfriends were unwilling to change their names it’d be a “deal-breaker.” Among all of the other sexist implications, that is just unbelievably petty to me.

    I wound up changing my name when I got married in large part due to liking the idea of shedding that connection to my own family… And my now-husband, then-boyfriend very carefully abstained from expressing any opinion whatsoever in the matter (although it has since become clear that he kind of likes us having the same name. It’s one of his most charming traits, really; he just seems to know what decisions really just need to come form me, and he lets me make those decisions, even to the point sometimes of refusing to express an opinion when I ask – (I didn’t want to change to his name if it would bother him, for instance; that’d be a weird dynamic.)

  6. Barb
    Barb October 10, 2011 at 10:19 pm |

    My response to most people who have the gall to ask “but what does the Mr think…” Which alone pisses me off, but my response is “he wouldn’t be my husband/spouse then.” (well something more eloquent that that but you get my drift). Usually shuts them right up.

  7. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley October 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm |

    When i get married (well if I rather) I’m going to sit down with my future husband or wife and suggest we pick a whole new name for both of us, to kinda create our own identity.

  8. chickwithmonkey
    chickwithmonkey October 10, 2011 at 10:40 pm |

    when my partner took my name, we expected there to be a lot of fuss and paperwork, but nope. both social security and his drivers’ license took our marriage certificate with no questions. the only time it was an issue was on our mortgage application, where the applicants are listed as “husband” and “wife” in that order, and the second applicant has a space for “maiden name” but the first one doesn’t. they ended up listing his maiden name under me, which was weird but apparently worked okay for the credit check (or whatever). i did give them an earful about having him as the applicant and me as the co-applicant, which made our taxes harder since we file separately and the mortgage goes under mine. /first world problems

    tl;dr it’s just as easy for husbands to change their names after marriage as wives.

  9. Tamara
    Tamara October 10, 2011 at 10:45 pm |

    I completely agree with everything in this post. That is all.

  10. Shinobi
    Shinobi October 10, 2011 at 10:49 pm |

    Many women I know who have changed their names have complained about what a huge pain it is. WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS THEN? I do not understand. I try not to be judgmental, but it’s not like some husbands are changing their names to make a family unit. It’s all on the women, as usual. While it is up to each individual woman to make that decision, as a whole, ladies, WTF?

    My boyfriend’s family cares, they also want us to get married in a church and all this other stuff that is not going to happen. The key to subverting cultural norms is to do it consistently so that when you continue to do it no one is surprised that your response to their nagging is a raised eyebrow and sarcasm.

  11. Esti
    Esti October 10, 2011 at 10:56 pm |

    I defended the virginity guy, but I’m with you on this. The difference to me, as you note, is that this is something expected only of the woman.

  12. Becky
    Becky October 10, 2011 at 11:01 pm |

    My husband wanted me to change my name at first. But when I asked him how he would feel if he were the one expected to change his name, he came around very quickly and it hasn’t been an issue since.

    Veronique – I think it may depend where in Canada. I’m in Calgary and most of the married women in my social circle changed their names.

  13. alynn
    alynn October 10, 2011 at 11:15 pm |

    PREACH.

    Plus, best thing about skipping the name change…

    You do NOTHING. Like, literally nothing. Laziness reins.

    But seriously, I’ve been married nearly 3 years and people routinely 1) don’t think I’m really married and it must be a fake Facebook marriage because I still have the name they knew me by in high school. 2) don’t think it’s even an option to not change your last name.

    No really. When they find out I never changed my name, they’re like “You can even do that!!111!” And every time I’m like, “Yes. All you do is nothing.”

    Guh.

  14. Alaina
    Alaina October 10, 2011 at 11:20 pm |

    Amen, sister! I have friends who say “oh, it’ll depend on the situation,” which is really code for “I’m not actually opposed the idea.” My heart hurts a little every time I have that conversation, so I try not bring it up, but so many people I know have gotten married recently, and almost all of the women have changed their name, even when their husband/fiance has disavowed the tradition.

  15. igglanova
    igglanova October 10, 2011 at 11:24 pm |

    I don’t even like my name and I would still tell ‘em to shove it. It’s the principle, dammit. Feeling so entitled to a spouse’s name-change must be like living in a total bizarro world.

    Although it might be cool to ditch your names altogether and name yourselves Commander Saturn or whatever-the-hell.

  16. Auguste
    Auguste October 10, 2011 at 11:26 pm |

    My high school principal, marrying at age 60 or thereabouts, and his fiance decided that they would both take the name “Valjean.” It was pretty fantastic, in hindsight.

  17. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer October 10, 2011 at 11:29 pm |

    Not only was I not ever willing to change my name if I married a man (although I was willing to consider adding another last name if I married a woman; now that I’m planning on the latter, we’ve talked about it, and we probably won’t bother), but I discovered that in my state, you can’t change the name on a property deed. I’d have to sell my house to myself to get my wallet name on the title. No fucking way is this ever worth even the possibility of the hassle.

    Anyway, while my dad pisses me off and I can’t stand his family, I like my name. That alone would be reason enough to keep it.

    I once had a brief fling with the same last name as mine (it’s a very common name), and one of his friends said, “If you got married, you wouldn’t even have to change your name!” I gave him the side-eye and said, “I don’t have to change my name no matter who I marry.” He spluttered at me.

  18. Rebecca
    Rebecca October 10, 2011 at 11:30 pm |

    A Practical Wedding had a great discussion/ the longest comment thread ever a few weeks ago- definitely worth checking out.

  19. auditorydamage
    auditorydamage October 10, 2011 at 11:39 pm |

    Lara Emily Foley:
    When i get married (well if I rather) I’m going to sit down with my future husband or wife and suggest we pick a whole new name for both of us, to kinda create our own identity.

    My partner and I have discussed similar ideas; we’ve even thrown around potential names. Heck, we may even go through with it.

  20. BlackHumor
    BlackHumor October 10, 2011 at 11:57 pm |

    Y’know, I think it’s really sad that this is almost the first feminist cause EVER and we still haven’t won it.

  21. m
    m October 11, 2011 at 12:02 am |

    No, totally agree, that name changing shit is weird.

    My mother didn’t do it, and all the kids got both names. Makes the most sense to me…

  22. Angryblackguy
    Angryblackguy October 11, 2011 at 12:23 am |

    Sigh. Well if no one else will raise their hand to take the gun fire:

    - has anyone here who criticized a man for wanting his fiancé to take his name given the engagement ring (a symbol of unfortunate tradition equivalent to the name) back to the man in outrage?

    - did anyone who criticizes this guy flatly refuse to wear a white or cream wedding dress and go instead with a blue or red dress when walking down the aisle?

    - did anyone with two living parents demand that their mother give them away in marriage? Or better yet have no one give them away?

    Etc. These are traditions grounded in some very bad history. Lots of marriage traditions are. For example the African American tradition of jumping the broom, an act that signified the only way slaves could be married. But marriage in all of its forms should mean whatever the couple wants it to mean. If it is not sexist or hurtful for a particular couple, I don’t think it is always fair to place our burdens, struggles and hangups on that union. It is theirs to craft as they see fit.

    Particularly where no one is being hurt or degraded.

  23. Julian Sanchez
    Julian Sanchez October 11, 2011 at 12:25 am |

    I’ll cop to always having found this whole tradition vaguely creepy. My parents having kept their own names, it’s never really crossed my mind that a potential spouse would change hers, and while I suppose I wouldn’t actively mind if they did, I’d put it in the category of “weird kinks you’d go along with because it makes the other person happy.” Which is just to say, I think this is the sort of thing where the inherent bizarreness of the practice is pretty palpable as soon as it’s no longer just “the done thing.” If so, I’d expect it to fall by the wayside pretty rapidly once there’s a critical mass opting out. Not even necessarily because people consciously or reflectively reject it as patriarchal; I suspect we’ll more commonly just see an attitude of “Huh… Why would you do that?”

  24. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 11, 2011 at 12:34 am |

    M and I have been struggling with this recently because my decision to keep my name has seriously hurt his father’s feelings (apparently he only JUST realized I never changed my name). Explaining has done no good and he feels its a racial thing. So we’ve adopted a compromise position. I’m adding M’s last name as a second middle name and M is adding my name as a second middle name. Which we’ll get around to at some point I’m sure. Maybe next year sometime…Seems like a lot of trouble…

  25. llama
    llama October 11, 2011 at 12:40 am |

    So what about the man who marries a woman who has been married before and has changed her name once? What should he expect?

    Now don’t start with the “they makeup such a small percentage of the population” noises because lots of people have second marriages nowadays.

    There are four possible outcomes:

    1) Woman keeps existing name of previous husband.

    2) Woman reverts to original name.

    3) Woman makes up new name.

    4) Woman takes name of new husband.

    How do you explain the first three to the new husband?

  26. tigtog
    tigtog October 11, 2011 at 12:41 am |

    In my sci-fi utopia (we’re all writing one, right?) family names will be a legal convenience for ascertaining parent/guardian status during a child’s minority, after which it is expected that on attaining the age of legal adulthood the child will no longer use the family name, and will be able and will often prefer to choose new personal names as well, as a sign of adult independence.

    Once two or more adults form a partner-bond, the adults concerned will choose a bonding-name which may or may not be used by their friends and family to refer to them (“we’ve been invited to dinner next Friday at the Stormageddon’s place, are we free darling?” “No can do, did you forget we’re having cocktails with the Scoobies?” ). The bonding-name will merely be an extra box on forms involving family/joint accounts/inheritance issues only, and any children that are born to that bonding will use that bonding-name until they become adults themselves.

    This will mean that those children who simply want nothing to do with any name associated with their parental units will be able to shed that baggage without social opprobrium, so there won’t be any reason to wait until marriage to get rid of a name one hates.

  27. Jennifer
    Jennifer October 11, 2011 at 12:44 am |

    I think the whole thing smacks of property. It’s kinda like putting a brand in your cow’s ass. That bitch is MINE NOW and all that. And that disgusts me. Why do we (and by we I mean the 95% of women who do it in some way) think this is totally awesome? Seriously, we’re way outnumbered on this. I’m so sick of “I don’t care, my name isn’t mine to keep anyway” and “We’re not a family if we’re not the Hislastnames” and all those stupid excuses. It’s ridiculous to demand that someone change the name they’ve been known by for decades to show proof of new ownership. Especially in the modern era where people have jobs and publication credits.

    I don’t have any interest in pretending that it’s okay to change your name to a man’s either. Why can’t everyone keep their own damn names and the kids get at least one parent’s name, however you determine it, rather than demand someone prove her love with all that paperwork?

    My ex-fiance whined at me to hyphenate even after I told him (early on!) I had no intention of changing whatsoever. To be fair, he would have as well, but we have 10-letter-long last names and people would have killed us. And to be honest, I really think he did want name bragging rights. He was kind of a closet chauvinist, as it turned out, and we had similar fights about how I wasn’t going to do Wifely Things either, especially when he was better at them. Ironic, huh.

  28. Jennifer
    Jennifer October 11, 2011 at 12:46 am |

    I think the whole thing smacks of property. It’s kinda like putting a brand in your cow’s ass. That bitch is MINE NOW and all that. And that disgusts me. Why do we (and by we I mean the 95% of women who do it in some way) think this is totally awesome? Seriously, we’re way outnumbered on this. I’m so sick of “I don’t care, my name isn’t mine to keep anyway” and “We’re not a family if we’re not the Hislastnames” and all those stupid excuses. It’s ridiculous to demand that someone change the name they’ve been known by for decades to show proof of new ownership. Especially in the modern era where people have jobs and publication credits.

    I don’t have any interest in pretending that it’s okay to change your name to a man’s either. Why can’t everyone keep their own damn names and the kids get at least one parent’s name, however you determine it, rather than demand someone prove her love with all that paperwork?

    My ex-fiance whined at me to hyphenate even after I told him (early on!) I had no intention of changing whatsoever. To be fair, he would have as well, but we have 10-letter-long last names and people would have killed us. And to be honest, I really think he did want name bragging rights. He was kind of a closet chauvinist, as it turned out, and we had similar fights about how I wasn’t going to do Wifely Things either, especially when he was better at them. Ironic, huh.

    Oh, and for the record:
    (a) back in the day I insisted we both have rings, not diamond either.
    (b) didn’t get to the point of picking a dress
    (c) I would have my mother give me away anyway.

  29. Sam
    Sam October 11, 2011 at 1:01 am |

    I have no interest in the whole marriage thing for a whole bunch of reasons (one example being that I don’t see any reason why I should privilege romantic relationships over other types of relationships. I wouldn’t hold a ceremony to celebrate my friendship with my best friend. Nor do I feel I need to cement my relationship with my best friend as COMMITTED FOREVER.).

    I also have no interest in parenting children (well… I’d be interested if I wasn’t a primary parent in a nuclear family arrangement, but that’s not particularly pertinent to this discussion).

    In hypothetical discussions about how to assign surnames to our non-existent and never-existent children though, my partner and I have definitely talked about mixing our two last names into something that sounds fairly ridiculous (we don’t have great last names…) to create the surname for our offspring. Not sure if I like this idea, or the creating a whole new name idea better (as it applies to children or to marital name). I’d be afraid of all the implications of our new last name is all – what’s it’s ethnicity historically, do I like it because it sounds ‘white’, do I like it because it sounds ‘exotic’ (read: not white), etc.

    Also, side note (this whole comment kind of is a side note…) – either of these possibilities for naming children would indefinitely make it difficult to take your kids on international flights. Just sayin.

    And in case you were curious (oh I’m sure you were!), the reason I’m not interested in doubling up the last name is because that’s not really viable past one generation. There is also the policy of giving half your children one last name and half your children the other. I’m just not really sold on the various methods for choosing which half gets which (for example, I don’t like the idea that the boys are all my male partner’s and the girls are all mine… gross gender clubs and also only works in hetero relationships). Other cultures also have the policy of using a parent’s first name as a kids last name but this doesn’t provide a solution at all to the choosing of which parents name.

    And then after all that, try mixing in poly relationships…

    Good thing this is all hypothetical for me! haha

  30. Amanda
    Amanda October 11, 2011 at 1:06 am |

    YES. This is why I subscribe to this blog. I do love a good rant (and am lucky to have so easily found a man who’s a hyphenated last name himself, and would have been more surprised if I’d wanted to change my name).

    I’m not sure I’d say it feels like property to me as much as it does identity.* Like I’m giving up my own history and my own self, even, to just become Wife. I really identify with my name, and with my own family history, and I could never give up that part of me. It’s also a property-feeling thing, but to me the identity thing is a much stronger association.

    But I am really disappointed in my husband for questioning the idea that my brother may take his fiancee’s name when they marry. The word “whipped” may not have been said (I can’t remember), but it was certainly implied, and that’s a whole other problematic dynamic/expectation/word. UGH.

    * Yes, a LOT of things about marriage and weddings feel like–and historically were–about property. Like that daddy walking his daughter down the aisle to Literally Hand Her Over To The New Man. EW. I walked my damn self down the aisle, thank you very much.

  31. Iany
    Iany October 11, 2011 at 1:11 am |

    Angryblackguy:

    Particularly where no one is being hurt or degraded.

    But people are hurt, clearly. I’d be hurt if someone wanted me to change my name (it connects me to my mum). Clearly other people in the comments here feel hurt by the idea of changing it.

    The idea of women as property is inherently degrading.

  32. Natalia
    Natalia October 11, 2011 at 1:19 am |

    So much of this has to do with how fragile men’s egos are, methinks. Men, raised with a tremendous amount of privilege in comparison to women, are also expected to “prove” their masculinity over and over again – and of course one of the great ways to prove it is to have your wife take your name, whereby making her “yours.” Like Jennifer says – it’s in many ways a property issue, but also a way to display that you’re “no less manly” than the other guys.

    My mom is the daughter of a Soviet general, and right before she married my dad, she hesitated about taking his name. My dad also has a military background, but he was only a captain then, and he totally freaked out: “Oh, OF COURSE! Your father is a general and you’re marrying a lowly CAPTAIN! Of course you want to keep your dad’s name and not take mine!!! My feefees! My delicate feefees are hurt!” My mom wound up taking his name after that, but she obviously regretted it.

    My father only understood this regret when I, his daughter, got married. He expected me to keep my last name, which is his, of course. And then I said, “Hey dad! Imagine if Alexey [my husband] were to throw a giant tantrum right now and go: But of course! You don’t want MY name! I never became an officer! I studied theater! I bet you think I’m a pansy next to daddy! Waah!” My father never thought about it in those terms before, and suddenly it clicked for him – how unfair it was to project his issues onto my mom when they got married. So at least he got it – 26 years later, but better late than never, I guess.

    It does become interesting when it comes to what last name you give your kids. A lot of kids have combined last names, of course. But I felt very strongly about my son having his father’s last name – which has little to do with my politics and a lot to do with my spiritual beliefs.

    Still, I can’t pretend that the fact that most women don’t pass on their last names is largely a reflection of our status.

    Also – for those of us who got our last names from our fathers: the fact that I have a strong bond with dad means a lot to me in that context. But for a lot of women who don’t have any bonds whatsoever, taking their husband’s last name can be like turning over a new leaf. If dad was a jerk, and you’ve got his last name, you may not want to keep it.

    I think that increasingly, men are starting to do it too – also for personal reasons. A friend of mine got married a few years back, and took his wife’s last name. His dad was an abusive bully, so it was important for him to get rid of that legacy.

    And we can’t forget all of the instances where people – men and women alike – change their last names to avoid persecution, discrimination, or just to fit in. I’ve got German men in my family who took Russian last names when marrying Russian women. I know Jewish men and women who took on less “conspiculously Jewish” last names, just in case. Shit, my dad’s Russian ex-wife took his last name, then passed it on to her new Jewish husband. And that was in the 80′s – so it just goes to show.

  33. tigtog
    tigtog October 11, 2011 at 1:25 am |

    Angryblackguy:

    - has anyone here who criticized a man for wanting his fiancé to take his name given the engagement ring (a symbol of unfortunate tradition equivalent to the name) back to the man in outrage?

    No, but only because I told him right away that I didn’t want one.

    - did anyone who criticizes this guy flatly refuse to wear a white or cream wedding dress and go instead with a blue or red dress when walking down the aisle?

    Not me, but I have known people who did, and they looked awesome.

    - did anyone with two living parents demand that their mother give them away in marriage? Or better yet have no one give them away?

    Both my parents walked me down the aisle, but we didn’t have the celebrant say anything about “giving me away”.

    Particularly where no one is being hurt or degraded.

    As somebody said upthread, there are people right here talking about how they do feel hurt and degraded by the changing-name expectation. It’s not up to you to decide for them that they’re not really feeling that.

  34. Rodeo
    Rodeo October 11, 2011 at 1:27 am |

    But marriage in all of its forms should mean whatever the couple wants it to mean.

    Marriage has a very clear definition that has been codified in thousands of years of law. Any couple’s opinion about their marriage is meaningless, just ask a divorce court. There are so few jurisdictions that require married women to take their husband’s name (and those that do would likely lose any legal challenge), that the impetus for making women change their names says more about the individual relationship than the marriage.

  35. tigtog
    tigtog October 11, 2011 at 1:28 am |

    No, but only because I told him right away that I didn’t want one.

    clarification: he never expected me to take his last name either, and was willing to change to mine even. In the end it was just easier for neither of us to go through the paperwork.

  36. Ellen
    Ellen October 11, 2011 at 1:29 am |

    My mother changed her name when she got married, and then found out 2 decades after her marriage that the old, probably senile priest had forgotten to register it with the Births Deaths and Marriages. So effectively, she’s been living under a false name for 21 years. It was a thousand times easier to just change her licence/bank accounts etc back rather than go through a name change and marriage registration.

    With my boyfriend and I, I suggested (if we get married) doing a spoonerism, or changing the first letters around. Then I thought about it, and realised that as my name is Dando (pronounced like ‘band’) and his is Heath, it would give us Death and Hando. So we probably won’t do that.

  37. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley October 11, 2011 at 1:29 am |

    auditorydamage: My partner and I have discussed similar ideas; we’ve even thrown around potential names. Heck, we may even go through with it.

    Awesome! I really think it’s a cool thing to do, I’d either keep my last name and go as Lara Emily Foley- or just drop my last name, probably just drop unless my partner is willing to hyphenate as well.

  38. shfree
    shfree October 11, 2011 at 1:39 am |

    Jennifer:

    I don’t have any interest in pretending that it’s okay to change your name to a man’s either. Why can’t everyone keep their own damn names and the kids get at least one parent’s name, however you determine it, rather than demand someone prove her love with all that paperwork?

    Actually, I kept my last name, my ex kept his last name, and we gave our daughter her own last name. She we never once confused by the fact that none of us had a name in common, felt like we weren’t a family or were lacking because of we didn’t have that shared name, and other than the occasional email from other school parents addressed to “shfree daughters last name”, it’s been fine.

  39. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley October 11, 2011 at 1:42 am |

    Angryblackguy:
    Sigh.Well if no one else will raise their hand to take the gun fire:

    - has anyone here who criticized a man for wanting his fiancé to take his name given the engagement ring (a symbol of unfortunate tradition equivalent to the name) back to the man in outrage?

    - did anyone who criticizes this guy flatly refuse to wear a white or cream wedding dress and go instead with a blue or red dress when walking down the aisle?

    - did anyone with two living parents demand that their mother give them away in marriage? Or better yet have no one give them away?

    Etc. These are traditions grounded in some very bad history. Lots of marriage traditions are. For example the African American tradition of jumping the broom, an act that signified the only way slaves could be married. But marriage in all of its forms should mean whatever the couple wants it to mean. If it is not sexist or hurtful for a particular couple, I don’t think it is always fair to place our burdens, struggles and hangups on that union. It is theirs to craft as they see fit.

    Particularly where no one is being hurt or degraded.

    1) If there’s rings we are both getting rings or no one is getting rings

    2)I might rock a suit, or I might rock a multicoloured rainbow dress ,or it might be something else

    3) I can walk my own damn self down the aisle.

    BTW regardless none of those have the same lasting impact that changing your last name for all eternity.

  40. shfree
    shfree October 11, 2011 at 1:42 am |

    “She WAS never confused.” I can type. Really.

  41. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley October 11, 2011 at 1:43 am |

    *that changing your last name for all eternity does

  42. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley October 11, 2011 at 1:44 am |

    Ha ha ha shfree we cut each other’s self-corrections off XD

  43. llama
    llama October 11, 2011 at 2:27 am |

    Personally, I think if all things are equal then do your own thing, change or not change makes no difference.

    However, I wonder how many of the women that don’t think tradition is a good reason for changing names after marriage then use tradition to support other decisions?

    I have seen this exact thing happen whilst tradition was no reason for a name change it was enough to support circumcision of offspring.

  44. llama
    llama October 11, 2011 at 3:22 am |

    I mean, my feet are all fucked up from years of wearing high heels and I continue to wear them anyway

    Which is most damaging to your health? changing name or wearing inappropriate footwear?

    That is some crazy decision process.

  45. Sunatic
    Sunatic October 11, 2011 at 3:36 am |

    Ellen:
    My mother changed her name when she got married, and then found out 2 decades after her marriage that the old, probably senile priest had forgotten to register it with the Births Deaths and Marriages. So effectively, she’s been living under a false name for 21 years. It was a thousand times easier to just change her licence/bank accounts etc back rather than go through a name change and marriage registration.

    With my boyfriend and I, I suggested (if we get married) doing a spoonerism, or changing the first letters around. Then I thought about it, and realised that as my name is Dando (pronounced like ‘band’) and his is Heath, it would give us Death and Hando. So we probably won’t do that.

    How about Danth?

  46. Dr. Confused
    Dr. Confused October 11, 2011 at 4:20 am |

    My pre-marriage conversation:

    Me: “By the way, I’m keeping my name.”
    Him: “Oh, of course. Hey, can I change my name to yours?”
    Me: “Sure. Do whatever you want.”

    He ended up only semi-changing his name to mine; that is, he’s lazy, and as people mentioned above, it’s easier to do nothing. So legally he is still his “maiden name” and depending on circumstances he chooses whether to use his birth name or married name. My kid, of course, has the same last name as I do.

    My sister and her husband chose a blended name. I think it sounds a little silly, but no sillier than my brother-in-law’s birth name, and I think it’s a good solution that avoids the challenges of hyphenation.

  47. Natalia
    Natalia October 11, 2011 at 4:27 am |

    I don’t have any interest in pretending that it’s okay to change your name to a man’s either.

    For someone who grew up in an abusive environment\wants nothing to do with their particular family legacy to begin with, it’s not merely “OK” – it’s as good of an occasion as any to leave that particular bit of personal history behind.

    What is a bigger issue is how a man who might like to take his wife’s last name is still seen as a weirdo.

  48. David F
    David F October 11, 2011 at 4:55 am |

    This is something that, as a guy, I’ve probably thought about more than most other guys. It boggles my mind that guys press so hard for this, when they wouldn’t do the reverse. It also feels like erasing one’s own identity, to a large extent, and subsuming it into someone else’s.

    As to my personal experience:

    My first marriage, I didn’t think to question my wife when she took my name. I didn’t expect it, and it surprised me, but I figured “it’s her choice, I’m not going to argue.” During the divorce, she told me that she was planning on going back to her maiden name, and I offhandedly said “I don’t know why you changed it to mine to begin with,” and she was floored. She had assumed that I wanted it and had done it for me, without ever asking me!

    This led to my asking my current wife what her plans were, and making it clear I was uncomfortable with the name changing thing. She was adamant, though, that she wanted to change it, and gave some solid, personal reasons for her own change, mostly having to do with some major family issues. But, I felt better this time because there had been a genuine discussion, and things were not assumed.

    (Don’t even get me started on the whole “who gives this woman away” thing. Ugh.)

  49. Torie
    Torie October 11, 2011 at 5:07 am |

    Growing up one of the most confusing concepts to me was the topic of last names. It was quite difficult for me to grasp the idea that my mother took my father’s last name. Furthermore, I was incredibly confused when some of my friends’ mothers took their husbands’ last name and some did not. Once I finally grasped the fact that some women take their husbands’ last names and some do not, I began to constantly wander if I too would take my husband’s name just as my mother did….And over the years, even at the young age of 19, I am positive that I will.
    I am not a stickler for tradition by any means, but when it comes to this issue I have to side with years of tradition rather than, what sometimes tends to be, the “feminist” view. The reason I feel this way is because growing up I realized 9 times out of that any marriage where the woman did not take her husband’s last names was a poor relationship. I was blessed with two great parents who love each other more than anything and express their love to one another everyday, so I basically model my ideal relationship and marriage after them. My mother took my father’s last name leading me to want to mimic her. Meanwhile, three of my best friend’s mothers growing up did not take their husbands’ last names, and strangely enough, they all had awful marriages and all three ended in divorce. Now I’m not saying that EVERY marriage with the same last name will be a great relationship and I’m not saying that EVERY marriage without the same last name will be a horrible relationship, but I am saying that through my experiences I found the trend of divorce between parents without the same last name to be very bizarre.
    I respect either side of this decision because I do feel like both can prove an argument. I do agree although that even though I personally plan on taking my husband’s last name, if a man attempts to pressure or force a woman in any way to take his last name that it shows major signs of controlling that could cause problems in the future. When two people are married they are brought together and although they do not give up their individual personalities, ideas and traits, they do become one in a bigger sense, and to me, in order to prove that, the woman, as tradition would have it, should take the last name of her husband.
    The institution of marriage still confuses me to this day. How will I live with someone for the rest of my life? Is it even possible to love someone that much? However, even at my age where I am unsure about a lot in life, I do know one thing for sure: I plan on taking my husband’s last name in the hopes of proving my love and sustaining a strong relationship. This may sound naive to some but to me, it’s one tradition I am not willing to give up no matter how “proud” and “independent” I may be.

  50. chava
    chava October 11, 2011 at 5:22 am |

    I didn’t change mine. Husband offered to change his to mine, but the whole name-changing shindig just seemed wrong to me, for either of us.

    I have no idea what we’ll do about this kid. If I give it my name, well, that’s my father’s name anyway. So I kind of feel you might as well avoid the issue and just go with the father’s last name.

  51. Doc G
    Doc G October 11, 2011 at 5:37 am |

    I love the “then you change your name” test. It reminds me of a friend who says if a boyfriend ever suggests anal sex her ready response will be “sweet! let me get my strap-on!”

    The golden rule people. Come on.

  52. ellid
    ellid October 11, 2011 at 6:07 am |

    @angryblackguy –

    I kept my name, wore an emerald green dress on my wedding day, and walked down the aisle alone, which has always been correct (if optional) except in Jewish weddings, where *both* parents escort *both* parties to the chupah.

    Eventually I got divorced, but it was because my ex turned out to be a liar, a thief, and a serial adulterer. His second wife took his name to show much she looooved him, and guess what? He’s cheating on her, too.

    If a man really loves you, he won’t care. And a woman should wear what she wants and walk with whomever she wants down the aisle. It’s no one’s business but hers.

  53. Disorientated Graduate
    Disorientated Graduate October 11, 2011 at 6:49 am |

    I am a cis lady getting married to a cis man in March, and whilst we’ve ended up planning a wedding with a lot of traditional elements, anything we’re uncomfortable with we’ve ended up changing.

    Inititially, I had no plans to change my name, but Mr DG admitted that we wanted us to have the same surname to reflect starting a new family unit. (Not children. Very different. Long story.) Anyway, after lots of discussion we’re now both changing our name to Mylastname-Hislastname. At no point did he want to change my name to Hislastname. His family is a different argument, but I think they’ve come to terms with it. Had he insisted I change my name, though, we wouldn’t be getting married.

    (On a childish note, we went for this option because we both really fancy being double-barrelled. It looks awesome.)

  54. Kara
    Kara October 11, 2011 at 7:00 am |

    I just added on to my name when I got married.

    So it went from First Middle MaidenLast to First Middle MaidenLast MarriedLast (or First Middle MaidenMiddle MarriedLast if you are the DMV or IRS) And I like it.

    As somebody said upthread, there are people right here talking about how they do feel hurt and degraded by the changing-name expectation. It’s not up to you to decide for them that they’re not really feeling that.

    And that’s fine. If there are other people who feel hurt and degraded and pressured to change their name… well, those are their feelings, and you can’t really tell someone that their feelings are wrong.

    However, just because you (general) feel hurt/degraded/pressured doesn’t mean that I do. And just like I don’t get to tell you how to feel or that your feelings are wrong, you don’t get to tell me how to feel either.

    Nothing makes me feel so stabby as someone implying that if I was only educated/enlightened enough, I would of course see that I should {keep my maiden name/become a vegan/bicycle everywhere/compost/insert other issue here}.

  55. Zenobia
    Zenobia October 11, 2011 at 7:19 am |

    I’m a trans woman, but years before I transitioned, I was married twice. On feminist principles, each time, I told my fiancées not to change their name to mine. Both of them did anyway. And the first one was a feminist, WTF. The second was a Muslimah.*

    Now my GF and I got engaged, and she said she was thinking of changing to my name! Please, not a third time! She also suggested merging our last names together. But there’s no combination of them that would sound good. Can’t we just each keep her own name?

    *In Islam, women are not supposed to change to their husband’s name but instead keep their maiden name all life long. That isn’t because Islam is some feminist Paradise Island. It’s because of Arab tribal society, where patrilineal genealogy is such an important part of one’s identity, there’s a rule in Islam that everybody has to be called by their fathers’ names. It’s all about the paternity.

  56. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 11, 2011 at 7:20 am |

    I wonder how a man would react to a fiance still using her ex-husband’s last name after a marriage. The only example I can think of that is Susan Sarandon, but she never married Tim Robbins, so I can’t ask him.

  57. Complicated
    Complicated October 11, 2011 at 7:21 am |

    I’m absolutely set on not changing my name, but for me, the real question down the line is what to name the kids? Does anyone have a good answer to this one? You can’t just keep hyphenating names (2^n gets big really fast). I don’t like the idea of randomly making up new names each generation – that defeats the purpose of a last name at all. So you end up having to pick one. I’m inclined to say that whichever name is chosen as the last name, the other name should go in as an extra middle name and then the kid can decide whether they want to ignore it or use it in the future. But the big question is which name should go in as the last name? And does it make me a bad feminist if I’m ok with giving the kids my husband’s last name? That’s what my parents did – my mom didn’t change her name, but we got my dad’s last name. So it might just be that that’s the model I’m used to.

  58. Effy
    Effy October 11, 2011 at 7:22 am |

    I have no plans of changing my last name to my partner’s if I ever get married. It’s been my name for 25 years now, this is the name I’m used to and other people are used to. Not to mention all the paperwork and costs that go with changing all your documents, bank accounts, cards… The only way I might take all that trouble into consideration would be if we both changed our name into something new that we would come up with together. Otherwise, if he insisted on me changing it to his, that might be a dealbreaker.

    One of the stupidest arguments for wife changing her last name to her husband’s, that I’ve heard in the last discussion about this : “But they are starting a new family. She doesn’t belong to her parents’ family any more, she is going to belong to the family that consists of her husband, children and her.” All I could think about was, way to go genius, completely ignoring how her husband gets to keep the name of his parents. Just shows how much the whole thing is about the woman becoming her husband’s property. It’s a tradition we could do without. Not banning it, of course, just making it a choice rather than a peer pressured expectation.

  59. Norma
    Norma October 11, 2011 at 7:27 am |

    @angryblackguy -

    I got a ring, wore a sort-of traditional dress (with veil!), and had my dad walk me down the aisle.

    I did these traditions because: 1) I was comfortable with them–the dress was awesome! 2) They made my family happy–my mom did not want to walk me down the aisle with my dad, for example. 3) They didn’t detract from the clear narrative of our wedding that two equals were joining together–eg, my feminist minister didn’t refer to my dad as “giving me away”.

    And I kept my name. Because for me, that’s just not in the same ballpark as wearing a veil for 15 minutes. My name is my name. I’m proud of it and connected to it. I’m not erasing my name for my whole life– that doesn’t have any relationship to love for me. When I think about changing it I feel very sad, and a little guilty for not doing it. It is harmful.

  60. Norma
    Norma October 11, 2011 at 7:31 am |

    @Complicated– the A Practical Wedding thread linked earlier has a lot of ideas about kids’ names for parents with different last names.

  61. Complicated
    Complicated October 11, 2011 at 7:34 am |

    For the people comparing name changing to things like engagement rings and white dresses – yes, all the traditions are similarly rooted in patriarchy, etc. But the name-changing has much more modern real world repercussions than any of the others. If you wear a white dress, let your father give you away at your wedding, etc, it doesn’t really affect anything about your work or professional life. But if you change your name, it basically destroys any networking you might have done based on people you knew before the marriage. They’ll have a hard time looking you up if they ever want to, and they wont’ recognize your name if they see it. I already see women from my high school on my facebook feed and don’t know who they are. And if you ever get divorced you’re faced with the same problem again.

    A white dress is a one time thing, but a name change can really affect your life.

  62. May
    May October 11, 2011 at 7:35 am |

    There are far too many people in here making assumptions about what other women do with their names and how this may or may not define them. I’m fairly certain that for a lot of us, feminism our about being allowed to be who we are, without explanation or permission.

    I changed my name with marriage to be who I am. So I would no longer be defined by the name of my father, who decimated my feelings of self worth and safety. So I wouldn’t be forced by tradition to remain attached to a psychotic and narcissistic mother. I did it to embrace a future I chose, not the past I inherited. Something to consider before you pass judgement on another person, without thought.

  63. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 11, 2011 at 7:39 am |

    Effy: One of the stupidest arguments for wife changing her last name to her husband’s, that I’ve heard in the last discussion about this : “But they are starting a new family. She doesn’t belong to her parents’ family any more, she is going to belong to the family that consists of her husband, children and her.” All I could think about was, way to go genius, completely ignoring how her husband gets to keep the name of his parents. Just shows how much the whole thing is about the woman becoming her husband’s property. It’s a tradition we could do without. Not banning it, of course, just making it a choice rather than a peer pressured expectation.

    That, I think is where this argument falls apart. It’s not the parents’ name, it’s the father’s name. So, I mean, unless you both decide to change your name to something completely new, then ultimately the woman will be taking a man’s name.

  64. Effy
    Effy October 11, 2011 at 7:50 am |

    Fat Steve:

    So, I mean, unless you both decide to change your name to something completely new, then ultimately the woman will be taking a man’s name.

    Yes, you’re right. It always comes down to that.
    Generally, I love the idea of both taking some non-related last name, preferably something really cool like Beauvoir. ;)

  65. speedbudget
    speedbudget October 11, 2011 at 7:54 am |

    Angryblackguy, I don’t like the implication that unless you subvert all marital norms, you can’t subvert this one. Wearing or not wearing a white dress doesn’t have any implications for the deed on my house, my investment portfolio, people recognizing me professionally, or just generally annoying paperwork and long lines at various civil offices. I know plenty of people who didn’t wear white at their wedding. I know plenty of people who either don’t have engagement rings or are very careful to not buy blood diamond rings. I know plenty of people who walk themselves down the aisle, have both parents do it, have a step-parent split the walk with a birth parent, etc. I know very few people who don’t change their names.

    I have had this name for 36 years. Names are identity for people. What I wear changes daily. The jewelry I wear changes daily. I walk to and from lots of places with lots of different people. These not how I know myself. I know myself as speedbudget lastname. It would be a real cognitively dissonant (that’s not really a phrase, but it’s early and I’m only one cup of coffee in) moment for me to have to remember that now I’m speedbudget someotherrandomname.

  66. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 11, 2011 at 7:56 am |

    Natalia:
    So much of this has to do with how fragile men’s egos are, methinks.

    I would agree, but is having a fragile ego the worst thing in the world? Some people are very sensitive, and in a marriage this has both positive and negative effects. I, unfortunately, didn’t see the show Jill is talking about (wait a second…did I just say UNfortunately????) but I can understand why her response upset him, as she wasn’t basing her choice on principle. She was telling him flat out, ‘look, my name is of a lot greater value than yours’, because she is a celebrity who is well known for…umm…err…umm…something.

    Having said that, I don’t think a woman should have to give a reason in the first place.

  67. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 11, 2011 at 7:59 am |

    I remember mentioning in passing to a guy friend that I probably wouldn’t change my name if I ever got married because it would be weird for me, and I like my name. He freaked out. Started yelling at me the usual shit (WHAT ABOUT ABUSE SURVIVORS? [um, you don't have to wait to get married to change your name then] IT’S STILL A MALE NAME IT CAME FROM YOUR DAD [yeah, but it's my name and I've gotten used to it] YOU HATE MEN [dude, I like my name calm the fuck down] IT’S NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL ANYWAY.)

    The it’s not that big of a deal anyway made me blink and then say, “Look, if it’s not that big of a deal, why are you yelling and freaking out over this?”

  68. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date October 11, 2011 at 8:02 am |

    @FatSteve: My name is not “a man’s name”. My name is my name. (I am not a man.)

  69. Rosie
    Rosie October 11, 2011 at 8:04 am |

    Totally agree with everything. I don’t reeally like my last name (Cuppaidge – it is rather awkward and I have a terrible relationship with papa) but am so vehemently against women changing there name unless there is a SERIOUSLY GOOD REASON (great Shakesville post on this) for it. My issue is: CHILDREN! Whose name do they get? Even if you give them a hybrid name, it only shoves the issue under the carpet for the next generation?

    Any ideas?

    My nightmare is that I would be with someone and suggest that the kids take MY name…and then have that person laugh in my face (despite me sacrificing career time etc etc for the children).

  70. Mikage
    Mikage October 11, 2011 at 8:05 am |

    Really, Fat Steve? My last name is not my last name simply because it happened to belong to my father as well? How does that work? Does that mean a man’s name is not a man’s name but his father’s name as well? Where exactly do all these damn names originate and who owns the copyright?

    I call horseshit. My last name was given to me when I was born. I own it just as much as I own my first and middle names, just as much as a man owns his names. Saying that a man owns his name but women are only allowed to borrow theirs from the men in their lives is a sexist tradition better cast onto the garbage heaps of history.

  71. Frogmistress
    Frogmistress October 11, 2011 at 8:23 am |

    When we were dating, I informed my now husband that I would not be changing my name if I got married as I am my own person and not an extension of my husband. He harumphed about it and let me know he didn’t agree.

    I also said that if I had more children, the daughters would get my last name. That one set him off until I pointed out that he felt they should grow up, get married and take someone else’s last name anyway.

    He laughed and agreed.

    We love it when he gets address as Mr. Frogmistress.

  72. Andie
    Andie October 11, 2011 at 8:31 am |

    Fat Steve:
    I wonder how a man would react to a fiance still using her ex-husband’s last name after a marriage. The only example I can think of that is Susan Sarandon, but she never married Tim Robbins, so I can’t ask him.

    My sister was adopted at a young age by my father, and as a result ended up with a pretty ridiculous full name (think along the lines of ‘john johnson’) so when she got married she was quite excited to change her name. When she got divorced she kept her married name until she got married again. I don’t know that my current brother-in-law ever had a problem with her keeping her ex-husbands name.

  73. Wednesday
    Wednesday October 11, 2011 at 8:37 am |

    When people remark on the fact that my husband and I have different last na,es, or if I’m in a situation where I have to bring it up myself (setting up or paying the phone or electric bill, getting him enrolled in health insurance, and for some reason the video store) I just say, “Yeah, he decided to keep his last name when we got married.”

    That usually startles people enough that they don’t harass me.

  74. Hey Hey Helen
    Hey Hey Helen October 11, 2011 at 8:38 am |

    I couple people have touched on my personal reason for changing my name, but I want to expand on it.

    First, let me say that I 100% agree with the original post and what everyone is saying re: names. I think it’s just a really personal choice depending on a ton of factors.

    I knew that taking my husband’s name meant I was “taking a man’s name”. However my name was already “a man’s name” (my dad’s). I really love my dad. But I really love my husband. So for me personally, it wasn’t choosing between “my” name and “my husband’s name”. It was a choice between “my dad’s name” and “my husband’s name”.

    (Lots of disclaimers: Obviously I didn’t mind my dad’s name much because I never changed it before. Also, I had barely started my career, so the name change didn’t have any practical effect on my life. Etc.)

  75. auditorydamage
    auditorydamage October 11, 2011 at 8:41 am |

    Lara Emily Foley: Awesome! I really think it’s a cool thing to do, I’d either keep my last name and go as Lara Emily Foley- or just drop my last name, probably just drop unless my partner is willing to hyphenate as well.

    My last name is ten letters long and Polish. People regularly botch it. Whether or not we pick a new name, there’s no way in hell I’d expect my partner to take it – not that I would otherwise, it’s added impetus to do something interesting.

  76. The Nerd
    The Nerd October 11, 2011 at 8:44 am |

    I guess it’s cool if she keeps her name because it was her dad’s and it’s one thing she can have of his.

    I’m surprised that in 65 comments nobody’s brought this up: it’s not her dad’s last name. He had his own name, and she got herself one just like it. Whatever name she had, has, or will have, it’s her name.
    I was a conservative Christian when I got married, and a feminist atheist when I got divorced. I changed my name at marriage because “oh well, it’s tradition, might as well not make waves”. I didn’t at divorce, because I didn’t feel like it. Curious as to how that might make me look to others, I asked a friend if it was considered bad to keep my last name. His response was “why? does he need it back?” My friend snapped me back into my feminism real quick. No decision in a patriarchy is without implications, but it’s still my decision. No excuses necessary.

  77. Andie
    Andie October 11, 2011 at 8:45 am |

    I got married at a young age, and didn’t really think twice about taking the ex-hubsters name. In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t, for most of the reasons listed above. After splitting I didn’t bother changing back for a long time… because i realized that A) there were only two letters difference between my birth name (hate the term ‘maiden name’) and my married name and B) I liked having the same name as my kids.

    I eventually decided to change back for a few reasons:

    A) I had decided that if I were to marry again, I wouldn’t change my name for the reasons that have pretty much been outlined in this thread and I thought it’d be less of a fight if I was refusing to change from my birth name than my former married name.

    B) I didn’t want to be associated with his family anymore.

    C) He was getting married again, and I thought she would take his name and it would be too much of a hassle with the schools dealing with two Mrs. {redacted}s. Ironically enough, it’s been over a year and she’s still got her birth name.

    So I changed the two letters and went back to my birth name. I still get bummed that my kids have his name and not mine. If he was a shitty dad, I’d probably change theirs as well.

    As far as what to name the kids when there is no name change (or, when the parents aren’t married) I’m kind of bothered by the tendency to default to the fathers name – not that it’s an easy choice, but I always feel like it hearkens back to the bullshit about ‘illegitimacy’ and ‘giving the kid a name’. Like if a kid has the same name as mom and not dad, then people are going to assume that the child is a ‘bastard’. However, I don’t really have a solution to this. So.. um… Yay for choice. Mom’s, dad’s name, hyphenated, doesn’t matter, I guess.

  78. Brandon
    Brandon October 11, 2011 at 8:46 am |

    It’s amazing that by not marrying and co-habitating with someone instead, you avoid this entire problem.

  79. Vail
    Vail October 11, 2011 at 8:46 am |

    My husband didn’t care if I took his name or not. I was very happy to take his though! My maiden name was so generic I actually got a co-worker’s check when I worked at a University since we both had the same first, middle and last name (my first name is super common too). I didn’t take the name out of any bow to tradition, I just wanted to dump my Smith-like name. I did know someone growing up who (I swear to God this is true) who’s last name was Outhouse. I would change that too, even if I wasn’t getting married.

  80. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 11, 2011 at 8:46 am |

    Sheelzebub: IT’S STILL A MALE NAME IT CAME FROM YOUR DAD [yeah, but it's my name and I've gotten used to it]

    Sorry, is that a stock answer? I just noticed how the commenter was saying ‘I’m keeping my parents’ name’ and it occurred to me that really she was keeping her father’s name.

    I guess age matters too. If you get married at 24 like we did, and you only have a drivers license and a couple of credit cards, changing your name isn’t that big of a hassle in the paperwork sense.

  81. Andie
    Andie October 11, 2011 at 8:50 am |

    Andie:
    (or, when the parents aren’t married)

    Sorry I should have clarified that as, when the parents aren’t married but are together (or not even together – but both parents are actively in the picture)

  82. Andie
    Andie October 11, 2011 at 8:51 am |

    Oh and I’m still pissed off with myself for not changing back to my birth name before getting my degree. Blah.

  83. AMM
    AMM October 11, 2011 at 8:52 am |

    Rodeo: There are so few jurisdictions that require married women to take their husband’s name (and those that do would likely lose any legal challenge),

    That’s probably true for the USA. It’s not true for all jurisdictions. (Keep in mind that WWW stands for World-Wide-Web.)

    For example, Germany requires that when a couple marries, one has to take the other’s last name. At one time, the law said that the woman always takes the man’s name, but they changed that when a woman who was the last of the von Whatsits or zu Wherevers and was marrying a commoner wanted to retain her blue-blooded name. Now the couple has the option of having the man taking the woman’s last name.

    (Disclaimer: that was how it was 30 years ago when I lived there. The law might have been changed again. But I doubt it.)

  84. Andie
    Andie October 11, 2011 at 8:52 am |

    Fat Steve: Sorry, is that a stock answer? I just noticed how the commenter was saying ‘I’m keeping my parents’ name’ and it occurred to me that really she was keeping her father’s name.

    If you’re making the assumption she had her father’s name.. she may have been raised by her mother alone, or may have had very progressive parents who were ahead of their time.

  85. kb
    kb October 11, 2011 at 8:54 am |

    I’m absolutely set on not changing my name, but for me, the real question down the line is what to name the kids? Does anyone have a good answer to this one? You can’t just keep hyphenating names (2^n gets big really fast).

    This cudgel makes me nuts. What’s so wrong with hypenating? when the kids get married and change names, they can make their own decision. I know lots of people with hypenated names, and they have made a variety of decisions about what to go by as an adult, and the world hasn’t ended. She doesn’t have to change her name just for this.

    @AngryBlackGuy
    I bought him an engagement ring
    I did cave on a cream dress, but because that was what was available in long at Goodwill.
    Both his parents walked him to the wedding site, and both my parents walked me. There was no mention of giving away.
    Do I now get your permission to choose my own name? Please please please? Seriously-why is there a test of things that happen one day before you can make your own choice about the rest of your life?

  86. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 11, 2011 at 9:06 am |

    Steve, it really is a stock answer. It may well have been my father’s last name (and his father’s last name, etc.) but it’s also MY last name, and I rather like it. I’m used to it. I wouldn’t answer to anything else, honestly. Even at 21, I wouldn’t have gotten used to another name.

  87. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte October 11, 2011 at 9:09 am |

    But if dudes didn’t whine about it, women wouldn’t do it and then claim to skeptical feminists that THEY weren’t pressured and their husband is GREAT and a total feminist. Without women shoving the pressure down the memory hole in order to round up a guy with unfeminist ideals to a kinda-feminist, where would we be?

    I say this as someone who has repeatedly been in relationships where I pretended some sexist shit didn’t happen, because I didn’t want to fight it. Not so much anymore.

  88. EG
    EG October 11, 2011 at 9:10 am |

    I wonder how a man would react to a fiance still using her ex-husband’s last name after a marriage.

    My stepfather was fine with it. My mother didn’t want to go back to her maiden name, because her family of origin had been a very unhappy one, and by the time my parents split up, she’d spent more time with her married name than her birth name. Also, by that time, I and my sister had been born, and I have to admit, even though I was an adult by then, if she had changed her name to my stepfather’s, something she briefly considered, it would have felt like she was abandoning us to our father, who is unreliable, to say the least.

    I wouldn’t change my name, ever, for any reason at all. It may well be my father’s. It’s also mine. I’ve had it for as long as I’ve had my first name, which was also given to me by my parents. I don’t like/want an engagement ring, because why should I have to wear one if he doesn’t? And honestly, very few of my friends who’ve gotten married in recent years have worn white. My cousin wore brown. The friend whose wedding I went to before hers wore green.

    As to children. I feel very strongly that at least one of my children needs to carry my last name as a last name. If I have children as a single woman, no problem. If I have children with a partner, then one of them can have my last name and one of them can have his. I feel very strongly about this because the traditional naming conventions are one way women have been written out of history. I had a boyfriend years ago who was very into genealogy, and he could always trace back his male ancestors farther than his female ancestors, because of the name changes and the fact that children didn’t bear the mother’s name. I don’t see any reason why siblings have to have the same last name to be close. I am, for example, extremely close with my stepdad, and we have different last names.

  89. Brian
    Brian October 11, 2011 at 9:21 am |

    I wonder how a man would react to a fiance still using her ex-husband’s last name after a marriage. The only example I can think of that is Susan Sarandon, but she never married Tim Robbins, so I can’t ask him.

    The priest who priested my wedding was married to a woman who still used her married name from a previous wedding (which I only know because he talked for some time about the various options we had with respect to names.) He seemed to find it pretty mundane.

  90. Ryan
    Ryan October 11, 2011 at 9:22 am |

    My partner initially had no intention of changing her name when we married. I completely didn’t care, but was adamant I didn’t want to do the hyphenated name thing for any kids because of the length issue (she agreed). We also discussed me changing to her name, but it’s very ethnic and would force constant explanations on me (and I thought would look kind of silly on me).

    Someone above asked about a good compromise for the kids. This is what we settled on. They took my last name and she got to pick the first names (she chose traditional ethnic ones) and I could veto one if I really hated it. If we’d done middle names I would have gotten to choose a family one and she’d get a veto. We’ve had a number of people remark they thought this was a really fair way to do it.

    The end of the story is that after some logistical hassles at the bank and customs she decided it was easier just to continue using her maiden name professionally and socially, and to change legally (which wasn’t that difficult a process if you follow the steps in order). Now she moves between the two pretty fluidly and doesn’t seem to bat an eye at whichever name people use.

  91. HJ
    HJ October 11, 2011 at 9:24 am |

    I remember once, after a thread like this, I turned to the boyfriend and asked “if we ever were to get married, would you expect me to take your name?”. He looked up, kinda puzzled, and answered “why would you?”.

    My mother also kept her name – parents have been married 30+ years, so apparently it didn’t hurt. His mother did too, I think (he doesn’t even know for sure, that’s how much of a non-issue it is).

    Anyway, still with the same awesome dude, no plans of marrying anytime soon or ever, really (highly uncomfortable with the whole thing, so there’d have to be compelling practical reasons), but if we did, I’d definitely keep my name – because it’s who I am, because I’ve published both academic articles and journalism under this name, and because, well, “why would I?”. As for kids, they’re even more unlikely than marriage, but I guess I’d be OK with them getting his last name: mine is very common and boring (my attachment to it is historical, not aesthetic) while there are only 7 people with his last name in the whole country, and they’re all related to him.

  92. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte October 11, 2011 at 9:27 am |

    Plus, I wish people realized how much keeping your own name takes one less hassle out of the divorce. Like the Boy Scouts say, always be prepared!

  93. Hannah
    Hannah October 11, 2011 at 9:27 am |

    My mom never changed her name when I was a kid so I got used to the idea that you didn’t have to but since we always got mail addressed to “Mrs Hannah’s lastname” (I have my dad’s last nam) I did understand that she was expected to.

    But I feel like personally for me, I have a hard to spell last name and while I’d probably keep, it might be nice to have a name people can spell by themselves…is that a silly reason? Probably but it would be nice for my hypothetical children to be able to pronouce their last name before they were 10 (the year i figured out how to pronouce my last name)

  94. Wonderkitty
    Wonderkitty October 11, 2011 at 9:34 am |

    Rosie:
    Totally agree with everything. I don’t reeally like my last name (Cuppaidge – it is rather awkward and I have a terrible relationship with papa) but am so vehemently against women changing there name unless there is a SERIOUSLY GOOD REASON (great Shakesville post on this) for it. My issue is: CHILDREN! Whose name do they get? Even if you give them a hybrid name, it only shoves the issue under the carpet for the next generation?

    While I’m not a fan of how AngryBlackGuy went about making his point, this post by Rosie irritates me easily as much as a patriarchal assumption that I would change my name.

    Hell, I get offended by the assumption that I must get married and breed in order to be a fulfilled adult woman, so don’t get me STARTED.

    But, seriously, I get that you hate everything about the idea of changing your name. YOU love your last name, that’s awesome. I’m… totally ambivalent. I’ve been engaged twice and one time I would totally have changed my last name and one time I wouldn’t have – based ENTIRELY on the fact that one guy had a last name I thought was REALLY cool and one guy had one that I didn’t. I don’t need to keep my last name in order to feel connected to my family any more than I need to change my name in order to feel connected to my partner.

    I read the actual post here to make the point that a man INSISTING on a woman changing her name was problematic, and I can whole-heartedly agree with that. Taking a stand on something so petty is stupid, in my opinion, whether it’s my boyfriend preferring that my hair stay long while I want to cut it short or pitching a fit about someone else changing their last name or else the marriage won’t work.

    Kara:

    Nothing makes me feel so stabby as someone implying that if I was only educated/enlightened enough, I would of course see that I should {keep my maiden name/become a vegan/bicycle everywhere/compost/insert other issue here}.

    Basically, I’m with Kara here and maybe I’m putting words in AngryBlackGuy’s mouth, but it seemed to me he was reacting to the same thing that Kara and I are –

    The tone of a lot of the comments has been not just opposed to the ASSUMPTION that women would change their name – which I think is fine, that’s a social construct that takes no account of people’s individual needs, stories and psyches and it has no value, I think, in a society that should value independence and individuality – but a lot of comments have been opposed to the women changing their name to their spouse’s name full stop.

    My point being, when my baby sister got married she thought about changing her name, decided she liked her last name, and didn’t change her name, and that’s fine. If she had decided she wanted to change her name, that would have been fine too. So long as she wasn’t changing her name because of pressure from her husband or society or her in-laws or whatever – so long as she freely made a choice, that’s fine.

    Dudes telling me what to do is not cool- that’s a red flag whether he’s telling me what name to keep or adopt or whether he’s telling me how long my hair should be. Other women telling me what to do isn’t cool either and I’d take any attempt as a red flag from women too. Whether you’re arguing from a place of patriarchy or feminism, hegemony isn’t cool.

  95. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil October 11, 2011 at 9:44 am |

    When I got married (my husband had an engagement ring, I wore a white dress, and we walked into the ceremony together), I was surprised at how invested other people were in whether or not I changed my name. One of my colleagues pulled the “But what are you going to do when you go to pick up your kids at school and you don’t have the same last name??!?!” routine.

    I am stuck on the (currently hypothetical) kids’ names. My husband is a 4th and informed me after we’d been dating for about 2 months that if he had a son, he wanted him to be the 5th and that this was a dealbreaker. Not really thinking it’d ever come to that (I was 19 and we’d been dating for 2 months), I said that was fine. But what about daughters? Whose name do they get?

  96. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date October 11, 2011 at 9:52 am |

    My children have their father’s last name as a last name, and my last name as a middle name. I got this from my sister-in-law, who got it from her mother. Yes, it does come down to tradition. But my rationalization was that, if I were a mother with a different last name from the children’s, people would assume that I was the mother, and I had just divorced and remarried (or I was one of those weird feminist women). Whereas if he were a father with a different last name from the children’s, people would assume that he was the mother’s boyfriend.

    I only know one instance (a friend of a friend) where a man-woman married couple had a child and gave the child the woman’s last name. Almost all of my women friends married to men did not change their last names (none of my men friends married to women changed their last names), but still the children all have the father’s last name.

  97. Florence
    Florence October 11, 2011 at 9:53 am |

    Jill: Even among the most feminist women I know, the kids almost always get dad’s last name (or hyphenated, which seems more fair). I am sure people have all kinds of reasons for that, but it does come down to tradition/ status.

    Sigh, yeah. When it came to getting married, I kept my name, don’t wear a ring, wore a non-white dress, etc. But when it came to my kids, they got their dads’ last name (multiple kids, multiple babydaddies, so the postman hates us). Despite all of my feminist bravado, this was one I couldn’t/wouldn’t fight.

  98. MH
    MH October 11, 2011 at 9:56 am |

    Forgive me if someone brought this up already – but it was my FATHER’s name, not mine. I dropped it like a hot rock as soon as I got an opening – I’d much rather align myself with my husband than my father.

    I did consider getting my own name for a while back when I was single, but I put it off…and eventually wound up married. I suppose it’s no easier than changing it as a single woman, except there’s an artificial “reason” to do it.

  99. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe October 11, 2011 at 9:57 am |

    My last name is long and horrendously difficult. I knew my ex-wife loved me when she agreed to change her name to mine.

  100. Ryan
    Ryan October 11, 2011 at 9:57 am |

    @Jill: If the guy was fine giving the kids your last name but wanted to strike something like the bargain my wife and I did (he then gets to pick first names and you get a veto) would you go for it?

  101. Fiona
    Fiona October 11, 2011 at 9:58 am |

    Hi, this subject is of particular interest to me. I grew up a long time ago and was expected to marry the first guy that I had sex with. Mmmm how long did that last?? I changed my name. It was expected. I wasn’t ‘asked’. Since then, I have had a few long term relationships, once I got married to one guy and didn’t change my name. I love my name. It is my name and why in the world would I want to change it. I am so very very thankful that young women are questioning these things today. I have been learning a lot/reading a lot and questioning a/lot. All things that I WISH I had done in my younger days. But as they say, it is NEVER too late. I truly believe that.

    Think about the reason(s) why you would want to change your name, if that is something you would want to do. Why YOU would want to change it. Not why someone else is pressuring you to. I now know that is not a mutually loving and supportive relationship.

  102. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 11, 2011 at 9:59 am |

    OK, seriously, no one is judging you for taking on your spouse’s last name. I’m sorry you feel judged. How about you keep in mind that I’ve been screamed at and called all kinds of names by people who felt terribly defensive over the fact that I’d rather keep my name? And that my pointing out that it’s a fucked up reaction and that the “reasons” they give me for my awfulness in wanting to keep the identity to which I’m attached are shoddy isn’t a judgement on you for keeping your name?

    Really. I’ve run into this shit when people asked me if I wanted kids. When I said no, you would have thought it meant that I wanted to roast babies on a spit and eat them with garlic, with the yelping and lectures I got, and the terribly offended feelings of judgement my “No, I don’t think being a parent is for me” incurred.

  103. kb
    kb October 11, 2011 at 10:00 am |

    Jill: Seriously. Even among the most feminist women I know, the kids almost always get dad’s last name (or hyphenated, which seems more fair). I am sure people have all kinds of reasons for that, but it does come down to tradition/ status. If I ever have kids, they are definitely taking my last name (or hyphenating). I’ve brought that up with a few dudes I’ve dated, and they universally freaked out.

    Yeah, I hate hate hate this. So you can choose to keep your name, but not your kids? really?

  104. preying mantis
    preying mantis October 11, 2011 at 10:00 am |

    Fat Steve: Sorry, is that a stock answer? I just noticed how the commenter was saying ‘I’m keeping my parents’ name’ and it occurred to me that really she was keeping her father’s name.

    I still find it unspeakably–unspeakably–hilarious that nobody ever looks at a dude’s name and says “But it’s not really even yours–it’s your father’s!” like that’s actually any kind of fucking argument.

    If my name isn’t my name, it’s not my father’s name, either. It’s not even my paternal grandfather’s name. It’s not even–wait for it–my paternal great-grandfather’s name! The only person whose name it ever was, by the logic that it’s not really my name, is some dude who fled one of the Virginias ahead of a horse-thievery charge before the Civil War broke out, and that’s because by all accounts he straight made it up.

  105. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 11, 2011 at 10:01 am |

    Other women telling me what to do isn’t cool either

    Who here is telling you what to do?

  106. Hey Hey Helen
    Hey Hey Helen October 11, 2011 at 10:01 am |

    Jill: That doesn’t make sense, though. It’s just as much your name as your fathers — otherwise, by that logic, it’s not “really” your dad’s name either, it’s his dad’s. And it’s not “really” his dad’s name either, it’s HIS dad’s. And on and on. By that logic, no one “really” has their own name.

    I think it’s probably true that no one really has their own name until you actively decide what your name will be. It would be cool if people realized you can change your name whenever you want. When I got married I liked having a choice between two names. I didn’t realize that choice was totally a social construct and actually had a choice between *all* names in the world, if I just took the initiative to change it!

    I find my husband & my last name interesting because his great-grandfather changed it when he came to the USA. (Obviously that indicates a whole other set of issues going on back then.) The result was that I have basically a made-up last name. I don’t know what conclusions to draw from that, but I think it’s interesting.

  107. kb
    kb October 11, 2011 at 10:03 am |

    Ryan: f the guy was fine giving the kids your last name but wanted to strike something like the bargain my wife and I did (he then gets to pick first names and you get a veto) would you go for it?

    First names don’t have the same connotation-ownership or family, depending on how generous you want to be-I don’t think there’s any comparison. But that’s one opinion out of how many on this thread. Your mileage may vary and all that.

  108. Marie
    Marie October 11, 2011 at 10:16 am |

    With my first husband, we had both decided to change our last names into an amalgamation of the two. His family had gone the hyphen route. I didn’t want his name, he didn’t want mine, and we didn’t want a third hyphen, so we made up a new last name entirely.

    When we went to do the marriage paperwork, though, the clerk freaked out that we were both putting down a brand new name. He told us that I could take his name, or he could take my name (said with an eyeroll and dismissive “like that would happen!” tone), but we couldn’t just write down any name we wanted. We were young, we thought we had misunderstood the rules, so we just kept our last names. Later, we found out the clerk had been full of shit, but I’ve always been grateful for his failure to grasp modern law, since we did divorce.

    I remember when I was a kid, I told my dad, “You know, I think I’ll keep my name when I marry. My name is my name, it’s who I am, I wouldn’t be the same person with a different name.” He responded with this out-of-nowhere (he was not a demonstrative man) welling up of tears and, “You would do that for me?” He’d only had daughters, so I guess he had some kind of heretofore unknown hang-up about the family name “dying” with him. I remember being super grossed out — I had just told him I planned on keeping my identity as I understood it, because my identity was important to me, and what he heard was that I planned on keeping *his* identity as a sacrifice to him, rather than sacrificing my identity to my husband.

    My boyfriend and I have discussed it. Neither of us have a great relationship with our paternal sides, and both of us have thought of changing our names to our mother’s maiden names in the past, but money and paperwork always stops us. So if we get married, we’ll take advantage of the no-cost name-change opportunity to each take our mother’s maiden names. If we have kids, we’ll switch off the last names based on what sounds best with the chosen first name. I dig this plan.

  109. DAS
    DAS October 11, 2011 at 10:16 am |

    Sometimes I am actually tempted to change my name to my wife’s because my last name is incredibly common (and even my first name-middle initial-last name combo is quite common) and hers is less common (at least in the US). Certainly, in many social situations I do end up using my wife’s last name because our kid has her last name (kid was adopted just around the time I came into the picture) and because in many of our social interactions, we’re dealing with people who’ve known her longer than me.

    I’ve already published under my original name, so I don’t know about changing it now. So I guess I am one of those people who use my married name socially but continue to use my “maiden” name professionally?

    Interestingly, I have some friends that decided to take a new last name (the both of them), when they got married (she’s fairly traditional, so she, of course, took her husband’s last name; he converted to Judaism and had an absentee father so he rather wanted a Jewish sounding last name rather than his father’s last name … although interestingly, he chose a last name that could be either Ashkenazic Jewish or from his father’s ethnic background). It was easy for her to change her name to the new last name, but he ran into some problems.

  110. EG
    EG October 11, 2011 at 10:19 am |

    but it was my FATHER’s name, not mine.

    This has been addressed many, many times. Many. Many. I can’t stress this enough. If your family of origin was lousy and you don’t want to be associated with them any more, that’s a real thing, and hey, you don’t even have to wait until you get married to change your name–I know a couple people who changed their names as adults for just that reason, well before they got married. But don’t pretend it’s because the name isn’t really yours–it’s as much yours as a son’s name would be his. If my last name isn’t really mine, what makes my first name mine?

    I am also so sick of people claiming that despite hundreds of years of pressure, their choice is a free one, unaffected by “society.” To make a choice unaffected by society, you’d have to be a sociopath. All our choices are affected by society, and there’s nothing wrong with picking your battles and deciding that this is one you’d rather not fight. Like Jill said, she wears high heels that fuck up her feet. Is that a free choice unaffected by society? If it were, why on earth would anybody choose it?

  111. Ryan
    Ryan October 11, 2011 at 10:20 am |

    kb: First names don’t have the same connotation-ownership or family, depending on how generous you want to be-I don’t think there’s any comparison. But that’s one opinion out of how many on this thread. Your mileage may vary and all that.

    I can see that side of things. When we were discussing it she wanted the kids to have first names that reflected her cultural heritage (and were from favorite grandparents) and so getting to pick those names without much influence from me probably did increase her milage considerably. I could see our bargain not being so equitable if you preferred to give the kids sorta generic first names.

    Maybe one partner could chooose the first and middle names and the other provide the last name? Not that most people would even want to compromise and negotiate as explicitly as we did.

  112. Ladeeda
    Ladeeda October 11, 2011 at 10:23 am |

    I’m not sure kids are in the cards for me, but if my girlfriend and I wound up reproducing and she wanted the kid(s) to have her last name, that would be fine with me. I don’t feel strongly about it one way or another, so if she did, awesome.

  113. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 11, 2011 at 10:24 am |

    I totally understand why everyone thinks that {trend of thread to question a social norm} but I {thing that totally aligns with social norm}. I did it because {reasons that are personal and totally legitimate, and probably very common}, and I feel good about my decision. I don’t want to stop feeling good about my decision to {do the thing that totally aligns with social norm}, and I feel like the commenters are judging that choice {even though they’re not really being pointed about it, just discussing the topic makes me rethink how voluntary it was and therefore how good I really feel about it} so can we please declare that all choices are equal and stop analyzing them? KTHXBAI.

    (This isn’t directed at any other commenter. It’s commentary on how I come to discussions that are not perfectly comfortable for me. I could write that butmyreasonsaretotallydifferent comment on half the threads. I just try not to, because thinking about the choices I make is good for me, even if uncomfortable. FTR, my spouse hyphenated but in practice uses her original name, I didn’t hyphenate and the kids got mine. I could write the whole saga about how different this, decision that, but the point here is that I won’t. Instead of justifying where I am and what I did, I’m trying to think fresh thoughts about it.)

  114. Sparrow
    Sparrow October 11, 2011 at 10:28 am |

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned: career! All this name-change business started when professional women were totally non-existent. I have multiple advanced degrees in my name, not to mention delicate professional contacts who I need name recognition from for my career to flourish. Changing my name upon marriage would obliterate all of this.

    Also, it would be hilariously awkward considering my first name is an animal name and his last name is an animal name. It’s very amusing to show this example to name-change hardliners. Yes, I am now Mrs. Owl Badger. Nice to meet you Mrs. Robin Buffalo! Yeah, no.

  115. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil October 11, 2011 at 10:30 am |

    I totally understand why everyone thinks that {trend of thread to question a social norm} but I {thing that totally aligns with social norm}. I did it because {reasons that are personal and totally legitimate, and probably very common}, and I feel good about my decision. I don’t want to stop feeling good about my decision to {do the thing that totally aligns with social norm}, and I feel like the commenters are judging that choice {even though they’re not really being pointed about it, just discussing the topic makes me rethink how voluntary it was and therefore how good I really feel about it} so can we please declare that all choices are equal and stop analyzing them? KTHXBAI.

    Exactly.

  116. Megan
    Megan October 11, 2011 at 10:34 am |

    I remember being young and being heartbroken at the “fact” that when i grew up and got married, I would have to change my name. Our family’s name is one of those “it’s the name of the farm in the old country, and Ellis Island needed something” names, so it’s not common and very much ties me to who i am and where i’m from. And my father and his brother both have all daughters, so I was (and still am) staring down the barrel of the family name disappearing for good in the USA.

    Having since started (not finished) a conversation with my partner about me keeping my name if/when we marry, i feel much better. But that doesn’t change the fact that the kids probably won’t have my name (at least not just my name), so the disappearing name thing is still happening. Although I do have a friend who goes by her mother’s last name because she identifies more closely with her mother’s family. So that piece is up to the kids, I guess.

  117. samanthab
    samanthab October 11, 2011 at 10:53 am |

    I’m with Brandon, that the whole marital tradition is fraught that it’s sad to me that it’s no longer considered societally appropriate to reject the whole tradition. I get that there are huge legal and financial benefits to marriage, but I don’t see anyone fighting for that to change and for long-term partners to get equal recognition.

    As far as the name issue, I used to think that I was inclined to ditch my last name because it came to me via my grandfather’s abusive adoptive father and also because I’m sick of people’s inability to pronounce an Old English name. Over time I’ve changed my mind towards the belief that it’s too damn important to reject the patriarchal implications. But part of me still wouldn’t mind ditching it, if I’m honest.

  118. Andie
    Andie October 11, 2011 at 11:06 am |

    Jill: Ha, yes! I think that would also alleviate some of the concerns of women who come from abusive homes and don’t want to carry a name associated with their families. You can change that shit as soon as you turn 18, no marriage required!

    I remember years ago reading a story in Seventeen about a guy who had his name legally changed to “Trout Fishing in America” – but his friends just called him “Trout”.

  119. Siobhan
    Siobhan October 11, 2011 at 11:08 am |

    When When I got married to one of my partners I was genuinely surprised by the number of people who asked me if I was going to change my name. My response was always a mystified look and a “Why would I do that?”

    the woman my husband was previously married took his name and kept it after their divorce as a way of shedding some of the cultural baggage that came along with her family name. He is absolutely fine with both of our choices, which is exactly how I think it should be.

    And just for the record, I wore black and white at my wedding, neither one of us bothered with engagement or promise rings, and I was walked down the aisle by two Elvis. (Elvii?)

  120. Andie
    Andie October 11, 2011 at 11:09 am |

    I don’t know if anyone has ever read Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour but I always thought it was cool that in that story, the family legacy was dependent on all the women in the family keeping the name Mayfair, and men marrying into the family were encouraged to take the name as well (although they were welcome to keep their own, if they weren’t already Mayfairs)

  121. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 11, 2011 at 11:10 am |

    Changing your last name to your spouse’s kind of reminds me of the people that get huge tattoos of their spouses’ names… Like, go ahead and do it if you want but I see some regrets in your future. :p

    But more important to me is the whole issue of identity — it’s honestly unsettling that so many women say they have so little attachment to their legal/social/political identity that changing their last name is “trivial” or they are “indifferent” to it. I don’t even care as much about the gender thing, I’m just creeped out that like half the population is apparently weirdly dissociated from their history (personal or familial) and ditch it at the drop of a hat as “normal” part of growing up or something. It icks me right out. X|

  122. DouglasG
    DouglasG October 11, 2011 at 11:14 am |

    Has anyone here followed the example of Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, who went by Sanchez until after she won the French Open and decided to add on her mother’s surname? I always liked that, although one could always make the same point about whose name was whose.

    And good luck to Ms and Mr Kristen in finding a solution that works well for all the interested parties.

  123. Maria Ann
    Maria Ann October 11, 2011 at 11:21 am |

    @Angryblackguy

    We did not do engagement rings, just wedding rings which we made ourselves. Technically I paid, though that was because our wedding funds came from a severance package I luckily did not have to use much of prior to finding a new job.

    I wore an off white dress that I loved because I loved it, not because I thought wearing white was required – I, in fact, fully intended to wear a non-white dress until I found and loved this one. I wore no veil and painted my combat boots blue and silver to match our wedding colors and wore them.

    My father walked me down the aisle because 1) I knew he would be horribly hurt otherwise; 2) I have always been a daddy’s girl and 3) I am not at all close to my mother and would have no interest in walking in with both of them. No one gave me away though. I walked him to his chair, gave him a hug and proceeded the rest of the way myself.

    I kept my name. Not because I am particularly attached to it, not because I have a strong familial connection, but because I could find no good reason to change it. I am very happy I did and a little sad every time a female friend of mine is introduced at her wedding as Mrs. Hisfirstname Hislastname not because I don’t realize there are perfectly legitimate reasons to want to change your last name, but because for so many it is just “easier” or “expected.”

    My awesome sister in law kept her last name as well, and his parents don’t seem to have any feelings on the matter – or if they do, they have yet to make them known to me. My mother, upon being confronted with the option of me not changing my last name, blurted out “But what would you do??!!” To which my simple reply of “Keep my own name” was met with “You can do that??!!”

    My husband and I discussed and he put zero pressure on me to change my name and was uninterested in changing his to mine (which I would have been uncomfortable with anyway). We have talked casually about both changing our names, or options for kids, but never really got anywhere with that. As a sign of how awesome his best man is, upon being told I probably wouldn’t change my name and that maybe we could both change them, if we thought of something really cool, immediately replied with “Skullcrusher” which has become a sweet nickname for us that is truly OUR nickname – though unlikely to make the cut for a “real” last name.

  124. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 11, 2011 at 11:24 am |

    preying mantis: I still find it unspeakably–unspeakably–hilarious that nobody ever looks at a dude’s name and says “But it’s not really even yours–it’s your father’s!” like that’s actually any kind of fucking argument.

    Whenever someone refers to me as Mr. L*****, I always feel like my father must be standing behind me. Mr L***** is my dad, I’m Fat Steve (which is not even my real name or an accurate descriptor.)

    Personally, I don’t place that much importance in my birth name, I could change it to Vagina-Dentata Jones tomorrow and not feel any different. If you’re the opposite and your birth name is a vital part of your identity certainly you should keep it. Whatever you choose, in my opinion, it should be based on what you want, rather out of loyalty to your husband or your parents.

  125. samanthab
    samanthab October 11, 2011 at 11:29 am |

    Jill, sure you can go to the trouble of legally changing your name without marriage, but there’s no denying it’s a hassle. And I think their may be an emotional value to the sense that you have begun a family of your own? I’m not saying it’s the perfect choice, but I do think a woman who’s trying to piece her life together after experiencing an abusive childhood doesn’t need judgment on top of everything else.

  126. petpluto
    petpluto October 11, 2011 at 11:30 am |

    MH: Forgive me if someone brought this up already – but it was my FATHER’s name, not mine. I dropped it like a hot rock as soon as I got an opening – I’d much rather align myself with my husband than my father

    My father’s last name is also my last name. I won’t be changing it because the second I was born and named, my name belonged to me. My father’s name is also my aunt’s name, who kept it. My father’s name are my sisters’ names, whom I love and feel deeply connected with.

    I told my boyfriend that I wouldn’t change my name once, and he looked unpleased and asked me why. So I asked him if he’d change his to mine, and he said, “No, I like my name”. And I was like, “Well, there you go.” He hasn’t had a problem understanding since.

    I’m with Jill on the kid thing. If I have ‘em, at the very least the first one out is getting my last name. After that, we can flip for it.

  127. Shoshie
    Shoshie October 11, 2011 at 11:32 am |

    I’ll admit it, I was one of those women who considered changing her name “for the children’s sake.” And then I decided that I was a) too lazy and b) didn’t really want to change my name thankyouverymuch. Mr. Shoshie seemed relieved and said he was kind of creeped out by the idea of my changing my name in the first place.

    But then we’ve also been avoiding the conversation about future children’s names. I maintain that if they’re spending 9 months inside me, at least some of them are getting my last name. He’s a bit less on board with that decision. :-/ In fact, most men I know who are feminist in many other ways are very insistent that their kids get their last name. It’s pretty sad.

    Also, for the record, we both got wedding rings, I got an engagement ring, Mr. Shoshie got an engagement present of relative equal value (he made a lot more than me), we BOTH wore white, and we were both walked down the aisle by both of our parents.

  128. jessi
    jessi October 11, 2011 at 11:33 am |

    AMM:
    For example, Germany requires that when a couple marries, one has to take the other’s last name.At one time, the law said that the woman always takes the man’s name, but they changed that when a woman who was the last of the von Whatsits or zu Wherevers and was marrying a commoner wanted to retain her blue-blooded name.Now the couple has the option of having the man taking the woman’s last name.

    (Disclaimer: that was how it was 30 years ago when I lived there.The law might have been changed again.But I doubt it.)

    It has changed. There are a couple of options:
    If nothing else is said, the woman takes the man’s name.
    The man can also take the woman’s name.
    Or they both keep their names, or they hyphernate the names.
    The only thing that’s not possible in Germany (without a good reason) is choosing a new name.

  129. petpluto
    petpluto October 11, 2011 at 11:38 am |

    samanthab: Jill, sure you can go to the trouble of legally changing your name without marriage, but there’s no denying it’s a hassle. And I think their may be an emotional value to the sense that you have begun a family of your own? I’m not saying it’s the perfect choice, but I do think a woman who’s trying to piece her life together after experiencing an abusive childhood doesn’t need judgment on top of everything else.

    I think the issue is the idea that only a woman’s name is temporary. Plenty of men experience abusive childhoods, but I don’t see that as being offered up as a reason for why those men should take the names of their spouses. Some probably do, but we see men’s names as permanent parts of men.

    So, I’m not against a particular woman changing her name to her husband’s, with the reasoning being she’d suffered harm at the hands of other people who had her birth name, any more than I am against a particular woman changing her name because she wants to have some form of continuity across the familial structure. I don’t get it, but I’m not going to make a fuss.

    What I am against is how these conversations never go the other way. There is never an expectation that the guy will change his name for continuity across the familial structure – or that a guy who suffered abuse or just isn’t close to his family would choose to take his wife’s name. Because it’s HIS name, whereas for the woman it’s “just” her father’s. The idea seems to be she’s borrowing the names of men, whereas the men in her life own them.

  130. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 11, 2011 at 11:39 am |

    samanthab:
    Jill, sure you can go to the trouble of legally changing your name without marriage, but there’s no denying it’s a hassle. And I think their may be an emotional value to the sense that you have begun a family of your own? I’m not saying it’s the perfect choice, but I do think a woman who’s trying to piece her life together after experiencing an abusive childhood doesn’t need judgment on top of everything else.

    Where did Jill do that? I just went back and re-read all her comments and can’t even conceive a single part of any of her replies or the OP that would constitute judgement of “a woman who’s trying to piece her life together after experiencing an abusive childhood.”

  131. Erin
    Erin October 11, 2011 at 11:44 am |

    Jill: Seriously. Even among the most feminist women I know, the kids almost always get dad’s last name (or hyphenated, which seems more fair). I am sure people have all kinds of reasons for that, but it does come down to tradition/ status. If I ever have kids, they are definitely taking my last name (or hyphenating). I’ve brought that up with a few dudes I’ve dated, and they universally freaked out.

    Yes! My circles large and small (outside family) generally consist of women who do not take their husbands’ names, or even hyphenate. But the children ALL have their husbands’ name, to the last example. I’m the only person I know, besides one couple in Australia, who gave their kids the mother’s last name. So I and my kids have my last name and my husband kept his. I told him full stop before we got married that the kids having my name was non-negotiable.

    I don’t care what other people choose. I understand that women can change their names for a variety of reasons. The problem is obviously that in the vast majority of cases it’s a “choice” rather than a choice. I’m *so tired* of framing every feminist issue in terms of individual choice, which is the ultimate in feminist derails, IMO. So, clearly there are some neutral (neither feminist nor unfeminist) reasons to take one’s husband’s/partner’s name. That fact does not change the larger fact that name-changing is deeply embedded in the patriarchal culture and that most women are under a lot of pressure to change their names, or they wouldn’t even consider not doing it because they don’t question the patriarchal norms of cis hetero relationships.

  132. Tim
    Tim October 11, 2011 at 11:45 am |

    I struggled mightily for a long time to not know who the Kardashians were. It was practically an obsession, and I don’t know why I was fixated on not knowing about them when there are so many celebrities richly deserving of not being known about. But it was hopeless. Bits of knowledge relentlessly trickled in, usually with no warning. And now the first paragraph of your post has roughly doubled my knowledge of them. Oh well.

  133. latinist
    latinist October 11, 2011 at 11:52 am |

    I think part of the conflict here comes from the difference between the general and the specific. I mean, it’s pretty easy, from a feminist perspective, to say “the woman should not [be expected to] take the man’s name.” But for any particular couple (even assuming it’s a het couple), it’s not about “the woman’s” and “the man’s,” it’s about two particular names, with their own idiosyncratic associations. And a woman may sometimes change her name, not due to patriarchal pressure, but because, say, she’s not in contact with the relatives who share that name and doesn’t feel connected to it; or she always disliked her last name; or because this is one gesture to show her husband’s family how connected she feels to them; or whatever. Of course, these things could equally likely cause a man to change his name, and the fact that that’s so much more rare (though not unheard of!) reflects a sucky fact about our society. But you can’t assume that the suckiness of the general trend applies equally to any one particular instance.

  134. anna
    anna October 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm |

    @AngryBlackGuy
    Why are you assuming women who keep their last names would still demand/accept a wedding ring? Nothing to do with stereotypes of women as golddiggers I hope.

    Frankly, I don’t want an engagement ring, because
    I don’t think it’s fair that the woman gets one and the man doesn’t, plus it seems like overkill if you’re going to do wedding rings. And I fully expect to pay for my own wedding ring, and for him to do the same. This idea of showing off the expensive engagement ring he bought you, and having him pay for both the wedding rings and her daddy pay for the wedding (and all the tabloid press for celebrities about how so-and-so celebrity got so very many carats) just screams “woman as property” to me.

  135. Shives
    Shives October 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm |

    If/When I ever get married the only way I’ll change my name is if my future spouses name sounds cooler than mine. I’ve already lived my short life attached to 5 different last names, so it’s already been like musical name chairs for me. Lucky for me my mother gave me a unique first name. I’m basically known by First Name + One of Five Last Names depending on when/where I’ve met people. Plus on top of that I write under a pseudonym, so we can add another name into the mix. Good thing I’m more intelligent than your average dog and I don’t get confused when I’m called by more than one name. ;)

    Concerning wedding dresses, chances are I’ll get married in a black dress. I love how the color looks on me and it’s something that would be more likely to be usable more than once. No point in buying a pretty outfit if you can only wear it once you know?

    My daughter has my current last name, which is more of an incentive to not change my name if I do ever get married, I’d like to keep that connection with her. When I was pregnant her father, who i was dating at the time, was pretty adamant he did not want anything to do with her, blahblahblahabortblahblahblahblahadoptblahblahwhinebitchmoan. I on the other hand wanted to keep her, even though Lil Bit was an oops baby. So we finally get around to me having my daughter, dudebro is still trying to convince me of the advantages of giving her up for adoption as we’re driving to the hospital. I give birth, nurse comes in with the birth certificate to fill out her name, I tell the nurse Lil Bit + My Last Name. Dudebro is infuriated. Can’t understand how I would think he’d be ok with her not having his last name, she’s HIS kid, (even though he had been quite clear on not wanting to be a dad and I had agreed and been ok with him not being involved with a child he didn’t want) and he thought that it should be required that she get his last name. Then he refused to sign her birth certificate because I wouldn’t give my daughter his last name and that was a GIANT RED FLAG that I had cheated on him. -.- Dudebro was single before he walked out of that hospital room.

    Moral of the story, guys usually have some wicked horrible reasons for the whole ‘YOUCANHAZ2TAKEMEHNAME’ thought processes and if your baby doesn’t have the dad’s last name it’s because you were a cheating cheater. (But I didn’t.)

  136. anna
    anna October 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm |

    Duh I meant “accept an engagement ring”. And yes, it is different from a wedding ring, because wedding rings are normally worn by both spouses.

  137. stonebiscuit
    stonebiscuit October 11, 2011 at 12:06 pm |

    Angryblackguy: – did anyone who criticizes this guy flatly refuse to wear a white or cream wedding dress and go instead with a blue or red dress when walking down the aisle?

    - did anyone with two living parents demand that their mother give them away in marriage? Or better yet have no one give them away?

    Yes (it was purple) and yes (we followed the Jewish tradition where both parents walked with us down the aisle, but no one was given away. We dropped our parents off at their seats). And we bought each other engagement rings. So…do I get a cookie?

  138. Doc Alpert
    Doc Alpert October 11, 2011 at 12:08 pm |

    My girlfriend and I discussed this. I felt like she should keep her own name, and we agreed on that. Then she said she wanted our kids to have her name too, because there aren’t very many people with her last name in the world. Well, I said (I didn’t freak out like Jill’s beaus), that’s true of my last name as well—everyone that I share a last name with is related to me by at most a couple degrees of separation. But on the other hand there are plenty of males of child-bearing age with my last name but very few with her last name (this being relevant assumes that most of them are “traditionalists” that will pass down their last names, which is actually true for both our families). So we agreed that the boy children would get her last name and the girl children would get mine, and we were both happy with that.

    We never considered hyphenation, because our last names are already on the long side and have enough consonance that it would sound funny (we’re sensitive to aesthetics as well). The consonance does suggest various portmanteaus, which we considered, laughed at, and discarded.

  139. anna
    anna October 11, 2011 at 12:10 pm |

    Anyway, in America women are still often expected to take their husband’s name upon marriage, while men who take their wives’ name are often looked down on. If she doesn’t take his name, or God forbid he takes hers, she must be a ballbreaking bitch who doesn’t really love him in many people’s eyes. Which is sexist bullshit. No man is expected to give up his last name to prove his love.

    When this attitude mercifully dies out, then choosing to take your husband’s name will be a happy free choice for everyone who makes it. Until then, no matter what reason you change your name upon marriage for, there will be women who are pressured into doing it against their will. Which we can all agree needs to end.

  140. Lynnsey
    Lynnsey October 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm |

    Kara: However, just because you (general) feel hurt/degraded/pressured doesn’t mean that I do. And just like I don’t get to tell you how to feel or that your feelings are wrong, you don’t get to tell me how to feel either.

    This. However, it goes both ways. Any of the billion reasons given here for NOT changing your (again, general) name are perfectly valid, but please try not to imply (or state outright) that those of us who don’t really give a shit are brainless cattle waiting to be branded by our new masters. I am NOT my name (your results may vary) and it’s really not that big a deal to me, nor was it (one way or the other) to my husband.

  141. Lynnsey
    Lynnsey October 11, 2011 at 12:15 pm |

    Also, (back to the original post about KK) this is much less annoying than his suggestion that she move to Minnesota and start “pumping out babies” because he is bothered by the paparazzi.

    http://www.usmagazine.com/momsbabies/news/kris-humphries-wants-kim-kardashian-to-start-pumping-out-babies-2011710

  142. shfree
    shfree October 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm |

    Complicated:
    I’m absolutely set on not changing my name, but for me, the real question down the line is what to name the kids? Does anyone have a good answer to this one? You can’t just keep hyphenating names (2^n gets big really fast). I don’t like the idea of randomly making up new names each generation – that defeats the purpose of a last name at all. So you end up having to pick one. I’m inclined to say that whichever name is chosen as the last name, the other name should go in as an extra middle name and then the kid can decide whether they want to ignore it or use it in the future. But the big question is which name should go in as the last name? And does it make me a bad feminist if I’m ok with giving the kids my husband’s last name? That’s what my parents did – my mom didn’t change her name, but we got my dad’s last name. So it might just be that that’s the model I’m used to.

    I think that’s pretty much up to that kid, should they decide to get married and/or have children.

  143. fannie
    fannie October 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm |

    “Sigh. Well if no one else will raise their hand to take the gun fire:”

    Ew. Stopped reading that comment after that intro. Like, really. it’s the equivalent of getting shot for a man to Play Devil’s Advocate or Contrarian in a feminist forum?

    Please.

    Anyway, yes. The expectation for women to change their names upon entering into a heterosexual marriage is problematic, sexist, and entitled.

  144. Florence
    Florence October 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm |

    Can we talk about the Kardashians for a minute? KK’s new husband is so lugheaded that when he opens his mouth I’m always surprised that real words come out and not just grunts and groans.

  145. Florence
    Florence October 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm |

    Lynnsey:
    Also, (back to the original post about KK) this is much less annoying than his suggestion that she move to Minnesota and start “pumping out babies” because he is bothered by the paparazzi.

    http://www.usmagazine.com/momsbabies/news/kris-humphries-wants-kim-kardashian-to-start-pumping-out-babies-2011710

    “Pump out babies.”

  146. preying mantis
    preying mantis October 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm |

    Lynnsey:
    Also, (back to the original post about KK) this is much less annoying than his suggestion that she move to Minnesota and start “pumping out babies” because he is bothered by the paparazzi.

    If you are that bothered by paparazzi, maybe you shouldn’t date Kardashians? I mean, just a thought, there. People who make their money by being famous for being famous can’t really afford to ditch the press, however annoying they may get from time to time.

  147. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm |

    Florence, I give it two years. What little I’ve seen suggests to me that they have very different interests and values, and that she married him because she’s insecure and has internalized a message that she’s going to be alone, and she’s settling, and that he’s not someone she can talk to about anything that isn’t going well.

  148. preying mantis
    preying mantis October 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm |

    Fat Steve: Whenever someone refers to me as Mr. L*****, I always feel like my father must be standing behind me. Mr L***** is my dad, I’m Fat Steve (which is not even my real name or an accurate descriptor.)

    You might personally feel like it wouldn’t make a difference to you if your name were legally changed to Commander James T. Spacepants by some glitchy, bored, and vaguely malevolent Social Security AI. That’s fine, you can feel however you want about your own name, I don’t know that many people are really going to make it their business to tell you you’re wrong on that one.

    It seems reasonable to speculate, however, that nobody else has ever come up to you and suggested that you go change your name to Vagina-Dentata Jones because, like, L****** isn’t really your name anyway, it’s your dad’s name, in a way that suggests your mind should be blown (or at least instantly changed) by this argument.

  149. Athenia
    Athenia October 11, 2011 at 12:40 pm |

    So wait, now my Dad has to DIE for it to be OK to keep my name?!

    I have to have a bazillon dollar brand for it to be OK to keep my name?!

    BUAHAHAHAHAHA.

  150. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 11, 2011 at 12:40 pm |

    you go change your name to Vagina-Dentata Jones

    Holy shit, I totally want to change my name to this!

  151. j.cruel
    j.cruel October 11, 2011 at 12:42 pm |

    auditorydamage: My partner and I have discussed similar ideas; we’ve even thrown around potential names. Heck, we may even go through with it.

    We’ve talked about doing this if we ever have kids so we won’t have to have different names as a family. Mr’s parents are not stoked about losing the family name though.

  152. bleh
    bleh October 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm |

    We *did* pick a new name and both changed to it. Got a bit of push-back, but wevs, we like it.

  153. Kara
    Kara October 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm |

    Lynnsey: This.However, it goes both ways.Any of the billion reasons given here for NOT changing your (again, general) name are perfectly valid, but please try not to imply (or state outright) that those of us who don’t really give a shit are brainless cattle waiting to be branded by our new masters.I am NOT my name (your results may vary) and it’s really not that big a deal to me, nor was it (one way or the other) to my husband.

    Um, huh?

    What I was trying to state was that while there are obviously a lot of people out there (group a) who feel very strongly about their birth names, to the extent that they feel very hurt/degraded/pressured by expectations that they would change their names, there are also a lot of people out there (group b) who do not either feel a strong connection to their birth names or do not have the same feelings of hurt/degradation/pressure as do the people in group a. Group a doesn’t get to tell group b how to feel or act, and group b doesn’t get to tell group a how to feel or act.

    I missed the part where I called anyone “brainless cattle”.

  154. bleh
    bleh October 11, 2011 at 12:53 pm |

    I have friends who named their children their own (woman’s) last name. She pushed them out, she named them. Her husband still knows kids are his. Why is this difficult for some men to understand?

  155. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm |

    It seems appropriate to note on this thread that Jack White, he of the White Stripes etc., took his wife’s name. Bandmate Meg and he were married young; he was born Gilles, changed to White, kept it after they divorced, and used it in the band name.

  156. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm |

    preying mantis: You might personally feel like it wouldn’t make a difference to you if your name were legally changed to Commander James T. Spacepants by some glitchy, bored, and vaguely malevolent Social Security AI.That’s fine, you can feel however you want about your own name, I don’t know that many people are really going to make it their business to tell you you’re wrong on that one.

    It seems reasonable to speculate, however, that nobody else has ever come up to you and suggested that you go change your name to Vagina-Dentata Jones because, like, L****** isn’t really your name anyway, it’s your dad’s name, in a way that suggests your mind should be blown (or at least instantly changed) by this argument.

    My mind is not blown, my whole spiel about the non-importance of names cuts both ways. No one should ‘suggest’ someone else’s name. I totally agree with Jill’s original comment that a guy who takes offense when their prospective partner wants to keep her name is a dick.

    You went way out of your way to misinterpret what I said, I never claimed that people’s names weren’t theirs, they belonged to their fathers. I questioned one commenter who said it was her “parents’ name”. I did not in any way say it wasn’t her name because it was her dad’s name. Just that it wasn’t her mother’s name, until she got married to her dad and did this same exact thing we’re talking about.

  157. anonadoptee
    anonadoptee October 11, 2011 at 1:01 pm |

    We can’t argue that these choices aren’t somehow affected by society. But the same way, we can’t really make either choice without being affected by some social pressures. If a woman doesn’t want to change her name she may also be influenced by the ideals promoted in the feminist community and they don’t want to be a bad feminist. Or they may change their name because they felt they had to.

    It’s easy to say that women change their names because of social ideals and that you can’t just say “a choice is a choice”…but when a woman chooses to keep her name it is also not necessarily a “free choice”. We can’t pick and choose which choices get to be considered the “right” and “freely made” choice. None of this happens in a bubble.

    I used to hide the fact that I was married when I started to become a feminist. I got a lot of backlash for being very young and married. It bothered me that I was being judged. I did recognize that my decision to marry was not made in a bubble…but had I decided not to marry would that have been made as a completely free choice made without any pressures? Not necessarily. I had a lot of pressure NOT to get married…I’m glad I did but I wish that our choices could be a little free-er. If the social constructs of marriage and expectations for women were more progressive…aka women were not expected to change their name any more than men…then I could say that keeping your name or changing were free choices. But honestly, maybe right now neither of them are.

    Jill: That would be fine if it were in any way possible. But you can’t just opt out of pressure from society. I mean, the very fact that she was the person faced with the name-change choice and her husband wasn’t is pressure from society. I know it’s fun to be like “I choose my choice!!!” but that’s not totally how this works.

  158. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm |

    OK, seriously? If my saying that I don’t want to change my name if I get married is some sort of judgement on you, then you’ve issues you need to address.

    Also, I’m struck at how no one seems to consider the utter heteronormativity of this little tradition.

  159. Sarah
    Sarah October 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm |

    About the original post: what I think is fucked up is that Kim Kardashian’s fiance is all freaked out when she says she wants to keep her name because it’s her money-minting brand name, but is ok with it once he tells himself she’s keeping it ’cause it’s her dad’s. Sounds like he has a problem with women having their own power.

    About me: I always wanted to change my last name, since I was a kid. It’s common, boring-sounding, and associated with my asshole dad. I used to fantasize trying on different, better-sounding names, and then I fell in love with a guy with a beautiful-sounding last name and wanted to take his, and then he dumped me, and well anyway long story short, I currently go by my own last name. It’s a career name, like back in medieval times when your last name was what you did. It’s on my business cards and it’s how I introduce myself to potential friends and lovers. They know me as Sarah Harper

    I haven’t changed my last name legally yet because I still have to work at day jobs. When being a false self, I might as well have a false name. When I can make my money off music and nothing else, I’ll change it legally.

  160. Sarah
    Sarah October 11, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  161. anonadoptee
    anonadoptee October 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm |

    As for me, I was not a feminist when I got married. I grew up in a small town, married very young and didn’t know what the word feminist was. He did NOT want me to take his name. He didn’t understand the tradition (he’s not American), didn’t want to feel like he owned me, and felt it was very backwards. I’m a stubborn girl and I wanted to. This desire was not made in a bubble, I admit this. I grew up believing in a fairy tale of marriage and taking the name was just what you did. I won the argument and changed my name, even though he still thinks it’s a backwards and sexist tradition.

    Fast forward to today. Despite everyone’s assumptions and the stats about getting married young…we are still together. Funnily enough, as soon as I married and got out of my hometown and went to college…my conservative beliefs started crumbling. College turned me into a liberal, women’s studies classes showed me feminism, and I went from conservative, religious, anti-choice (only pro-adoption) small-town girl to socialist, feminist, very pro-choice and critical of adoption girl living in very big city with no plans of having kids any time soon. For me, getting married was my escape. My parents were very controlling, shaming in that religious way, and for my community getting married was a way to live away from your parents. What my parents didn’t know is that marrying a non-american, pretty liberal dude would shatter their attempts to keep me a good little conservative…but meh. :)

    So yeah. Now I’m a feminist. I did consider changing my name back after getting the feeling that having his name made me a bad feminist. I decided not to. Even though the original decision to change my name to his was pretty much made out of sexist ideals…my decision to keep his name as a feminist was my choice. First of all, I am adopted. I found out recently that I have two birth certificates when I met my first mom. She had given me a name. Then my adoptive parents changed it. That bothers me in a way that I can’t figure out. What is my name then? If I changed it back to my adoptive name, it’s still a name that was changed from my “first name”. And changing it to my birth name would make serious waves in my family and make them think I was ungrateful for them (I hate that word)… And really, I wasn’t allowed to express too many opinions growing up unless they mirrored my parents and my religious beliefs. I have grown into such a different person with my husband…I found I have passions for things like pro-choice activism and women’s studies that I wouldn’t have with my parents. So I’m keeping his name. I like it. I do get spoken to in another language sometimes (when people see it they assume I am from his country) but I technically speak it too…it’s just funny when they realize I have an american accent. :)

    It’ll be nice when we aren’t expected to keep or change our name and our choices can truly be freely made. And then guys could change their names too without any social stigma.

    (and changing my name without getting married, even to my birth name once I found it out, would have caused some serious issues. Adoption is a sensitive subject…changing my name without the marriage excuse would have probably seriously hurt my family. I wasn’t up for that even if I had ever considered it)

  162. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos October 11, 2011 at 1:39 pm |

    Why are you assuming women who keep their last names would still demand/accept a wedding ring? Nothing to do with stereotypes of women as golddiggers I hope.

    That’s exactly what I was thinking. I’m surprised anyone dignified ABG’s clearly flame-baiting “gotcha!” post with a response. I’m surprised no one before you called out that crap post, which dodged the topic of the post in favor of “you bitches aren’t pure and perfect so shut up and take it”.

    As for the kid thing: Why would they get the father’s name? If he wasn’t pregnant, didn’t give birth to them, etc., why are they getting his last name? (assuming you’re not married and/or you didn’t take his name).

  163. Katya
    Katya October 11, 2011 at 1:39 pm |

    I never intended to change my name upon marriage, and when I raised the subject with my now-husband, he was glad, because he said he always thought it was strange that women changed their names, and he’d rather I didn’t. (He does want any kids to have his last name, but as long as they also have my last name in there somewhere, I’m cool with it.) My name is not my father’s name, it’s my name, the name of the person that I was for thirty years before I even met my husband. (Plus, I have a sister-in-law with the same first name, and I really loathed the idea of us having the same name.) We’re a family whether or not I change my name.

  164. Ink
    Ink October 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm |

    My mother kept her name when she married in 1976, and to this day she still receives mail addressed to “Dr. and Mrs. Hisname.” Oh, by the way, she got her doctorate at the exact same time my dad got his (literally, they graduated together), and in the same field. But she’s Mrs. Hisname, not Dr. Heractualgoddamnname. Oy.

    My names are staying put. I’ve always been incredibly proud of my parents for keeping their own names, and for giving me both their names. My partner has known since before we were dating that I would never remotely consider changing my name, and he doesn’t want me to.

    Oh, and for the dudely dude upthread, I expressly forbid my partner to buy me an engagement ring (we simply exchanged wedding bands which we are wearing on chains around our necks until we wed), I haven’t the slightest idea what I might be wearing and I don’t give a crap, and nobody is going to “give me away” because I’m a person not a second-hand sofa.

  165. akeeyu
    akeeyu October 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm |

    I took some huffy crap from my mother in law for not taking my husband’s name. Oddly enough, my father in law didn’t seem to give a damn, or at least not a big enough damn to bring it up with me, but my MIL seemed personally offended that I hadn’t made the same choice that she had.

    Almost twenty years later, she still can’t seem to address a Christmas card to me or the kids and get the name right. I’m sure it’s just a clerical error and not two decades’ worth of petty passive aggression, right?

  166. Cluisanna
    Cluisanna October 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm |

    Oh man, I wish I had those possibilities…
    In Germany both parties can keep their names after marriage or choose one of the surnames as “Ehename” (marriage name); if you do that, the person who’s name isn’t the “Ehename” can hyphenate their name and the children have to have the “Ehename”. You can’t both use a hyphenated name or make up a new name or merge the names or something like that :(
    Also, if you both keep your birth names, if you have children, you have to chose one name for them (which has to be one of the birth names) and all of the following children have to have the same name (so no first child gets one name, second gets another, or hyphenated names for the children).
    (Source: Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, §1355, §1616, §1617)
    I really like my name, because I like it’s history (my ancestors owned a chocolate factory and there is actually a street in Berlin named after them) and meaning.
    Also, my parents are fairly unconventional, so not only aren’t they married, but I have my mother’s name.
    It would take a really awesome name for me to consider changing my name; the person I am planning to marry has an okay name, but I wouldn’t want to change to it. He doesn’t want to change either, so we’ll see then, I guess.
    Fun fact: My mother was married before she met my father (that was in the 70′s), and the guy took her name because he was called “Death” in German – and still uses it.

  167. maehemsez
    maehemsez October 11, 2011 at 1:54 pm |

    My husband kept his last name. I kept my last name. Our kid has my last name, as will any additional children we have. My husband’s last name came from his mother, my last name came from my father.

    To some extent, the names we chose don’t make a damn bit of difference because we routinely get mail addressed to “Mr. & Mrs. Hislastname,” and our kid often receives mail using a hyphenated last name. It’s two thousand fucking eleven, why is it so hard to respect the choices we made with regard to our names?

  168. Ink
    Ink October 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm |

    Oh, and to Fat Steve and anybody else with that BS about “well it’s still her FATHER’S name if she keeps it, isn’t it?”:

    You don’t say the woman is taking her husband’s father’s name, do you? No, you say she’s just taking her husband’s name. Hmm.

    So maybe her name is HER name, just like her husband’s name is his name?

    My parents gave me a bike when I was 10, but nobody called it “my parents’ bike.” It was MY bike. So maybe after carrying a name for 20+ years, it’s actually MY NAME at this point.

  169. Lynnsey
    Lynnsey October 11, 2011 at 1:57 pm |

    Kara: I missed the part where I called anyone “brainless cattle”.

    You didn’t.

    I was agreeing with you and adding the thought that maybe some of us who aren’t offended by it are not the property of our husbands or too stupid to realize how oppressed we were by this insidious removal of our identity or something (as others, more than once, implied) just because we don’t really care. My most sincere apologies for any confusion.

  170. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 11, 2011 at 1:59 pm |

    Sheelzebub:
    OK, seriously?If my saying that I don’t want to change my name if I get married is some sort of judgement on you, then you’ve issues you need to address.

    Also, I’m struck at how no one seems to consider the utter heteronormativity of this little tradition.

    Well, you’re probably right in the wider sense, but actually I know two gay couples, living in states with no same sex marriage laws, who have changed their names to the other partners.

  171. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 11, 2011 at 2:02 pm |

    I was agreeing with you and adding the thought that maybe some of us who aren’t offended by it are not the property of our husbands or too stupid to realize how oppressed we were by this insidious removal of our identity or something (as others, more than once, implied) just because we don’t really care. My most sincere apologies for any confusion.

    Well that strawfeminist has now been thoroughly thrashed, so hurray.

  172. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm |

    Ink:
    Oh, and to Fat Steve and anybody else with that BS about “well it’s still her FATHER’S name if she keeps it, isn’t it?”:

    You don’t say the woman is taking her husband’s father’s name, do you?No, you say she’s just taking her husband’s name.Hmm.

    So maybe her name is HER name, just like her husband’s name is his name?

    My parents gave me a bike when I was 10, but nobody called it “my parents’ bike.”It was MY bike.So maybe after carrying a name for 20+ years, it’s actually MY NAME at this point.

    Please re-read what I said. I said it wasn’t her “parents’ name,” I never said it wasn’t her name.

  173. Ink
    Ink October 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm |

    Fat Steve: Please re-read what I said. I said it wasn’t her “parents’ name,” I never said it wasn’t her name.

    Except if her mother changed her name, then yes, it really was.

    All of which is charmingly irrelevant in my case, of course, since my name IS my parents’ names! Good argument for everyone to have hyphenate babies like me and my brother! :D

  174. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 11, 2011 at 2:06 pm |

    Well, you’re probably right in the wider sense, but actually I know two gay couples, living in states with no same sex marriage laws, who have changed their names to the other partners.

    It actually still kind of seems heteronormative to me (not to impugn their gayness or whatever) just like how some people like to map “husband” and “wife” onto same-gender couples. The whole tradition is steeped in heteronormativity no matter how queer the participants. (The same argument could be made of marriage itself, of course, and often is, fwiw.)

  175. Lynnsey
    Lynnsey October 11, 2011 at 2:09 pm |

    Sheelzebub: OK, seriously? If my saying that I don’t want to change my name if I get married is some sort of judgement on you, then you’ve issues you need to address.

    I don’t know if this was directed towards me or not, but I will respond because I’ve made an argument that (I suppose) could be misconstrued to mean this.

    No, *your* (not general) decision to not change your name is in no way a judgement of anyone else’s decision to do so. However, when you (general, this time) enumerate the reasons that it’s so very wrong to change your name (as some have), you seem to imply that any woman who DOES is just too stupid/pressured/etc. to have done otherwise rather than, as I said before, just not giving a shit either way.

  176. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 11, 2011 at 2:09 pm |

    But that’s the thing, Steve. There’s no assumption that one person will just change their name to the other person’s name when it’s a same-sex couple. When it’s a cis het couple, the overriding assumption is that the woman changes her name and it seems that she’s really offending a lot of people if she decides not to.

  177. carvynelci
    carvynelci October 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm |

    Lara Emily Foley:
    When i get married (well if I rather) I’m going to sit down with my future husband or wife and suggest we pick a whole new name for both of us, to kinda create our own identity.

    I totally used to have a teacher who did this exact thing. Fucking radical idea and I suggest you go for it. :)

  178. Hina
    Hina October 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm |

    Angryblackguy:
    Sigh.Well if no one else will raise their hand to take the gun fire:

    - has anyone here who criticized a man for wanting his fiancé to take his name given the engagement ring (a symbol of unfortunate tradition equivalent to the name) back to the man in outrage?

    - did anyone who criticizes this guy flatly refuse to wear a white or cream wedding dress and go instead with a blue or red dress when walking down the aisle?

    - did anyone with two living parents demand that their mother give them away in marriage? Or better yet have no one give them away?

    Etc. These are traditions grounded in some very bad history. Lots of marriage traditions are. For example the African American tradition of jumping the broom, an act that signified the only way slaves could be married. But marriage in all of its forms should mean whatever the couple wants it to mean. If it is not sexist or hurtful for a particular couple, I don’t think it is always fair to place our burdens, struggles and hangups on that union. It is theirs to craft as they see fit.

    Particularly where no one is being hurt or degraded.

    I actually do think the tradition of requiring the man to buy an engagement ring and propose is really sexist!
    I wouldn’t demand my guy to buy me an engagement ring, but if he did get me a ring as a gift, I wouldn’t complain and I would get him one too. I would rather just have no rings at all or both of us wear only wedding rings.

    The color of my wedding dress will depend on whatever I feel like wearing at the time.

    Either both my parents will walk me down the aisle or I will walk down alone. My parents walking me down won’t symbolize them giving me away but a way to show they accept my husband as a member of our family.

  179. Valerie
    Valerie October 11, 2011 at 2:22 pm |

    I am in complete agreement with this post, but have to admit that I enjoy it when my Facebook acquaintances eagerly change their names, because it gives me a weird, smug satisfaction when I see them getting changed back 18-24 months later…

  180. chava
    chava October 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm |

    Yeah. I mean, I KNOW I’m caving to norms by giving any future children HusbandsLastName. Sometimes you can’t fight every battle. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a pressure/societal construction worth point out.

    Jill:

    I don’t think women who change their names are stupid. I do think they’re reacting to culture and social pressures, whether they feel pressured or not (I mean, duh? This is Feminism 101, right?). I think a lot of women feel good changing their names. I know I feel good wearing high heels, and I know I make the conscious choice to wear them for a variety of reasons that extend beyond “society makes me do it.” But also, most of the reasons that I choose to wear them go back to all kinds of fucked up social norms which influence what I want and what makes me feel good (i.e., “they make my legs look good!” is totally true, but also, my idea of “good legs” isn’t something I invented all on my own, etc etc). That doesn’t make the practice beyond criticism, even if that criticism might hurt someone’s feelings.

  181. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm |

    Sheelzebub:
    But that’s the thing, Steve.There’s no assumption that one person will just change their name to the other person’s name when it’s a same-sex couple.When it’s a cis het couple, the overriding assumption is that the woman changes her name and it seems that she’s really offending a lot of people if she decides not to.

    True, true. There were many reasons for making that choice but I don’t think ‘tradition’ was high on the list. From what I understand, in gay unfriendly states, it helps for certain legal/medical issues to have the appearance of being a family member.

  182. chava
    chava October 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm |

    Bah. When women start making the same salaries as men, and don’t give up large percentages of their earnings for things like oh, giving birth?–I’ll give back my engagement ring.

    /snark

    But seriously, if I had proposed, I would have bought him (or myself) a ring. He wanted to propose, he gets to buy the ring.

    Hina: I actually do think the tradition of requiring the man to buy an engagement ring and propose is really sexist!
    I wouldn’t demand my guy to buy me an engagement ring, but if he did get me a ring as a gift, I wouldn’t complain and I would get him one too. I would rather just have no rings at all or both of us wear only wedding rings.

    The color of my wedding dress will depend on whatever I feel like wearing at the time.

    Either both my parents will walk me down the aisle or I will walk down alone. My parents walking me down won’t symbolize them giving me away but a way to show they accept my husband as a member of our family.

  183. Sarah
    Sarah October 11, 2011 at 2:34 pm |

    This sums up my feelings EXACTLY about my married friends who’ve changed their names (all females, of course). They explain it like so: “It’s what I needed to do to feel like we’re a united front.” But a “united front” could be presented just as easily by the man changing HIS name, or by the couple choosing an entirely new, third name, or merging their two last names, or (GASP!) simply living their lives in a way that best presents a united front, whatever that phrase means to and for them.

    I do know a couple who changed BOTH their last names, and I can get that decision. But the woman changing her last name thing? It may be a glass-house thing (I wear makeup sometimes, cross my legs when I sit, and have been known to wear heels), but it’s one of those “choices” that absolutely disgusts me. I can’t help it, it just does.

  184. Verity Khat
    Verity Khat October 11, 2011 at 2:36 pm |

    I’ve been having this fight for years…with my MOTHER. When I first publicly declared (around age 24) that I was born Verity Khat and I will damn well die as Verity Khat, she looked aghast and sputtered “But that means you’re not committed to the marriage!” I think I dislocated my jaw, it dropped so far so fast. Eventually I managed to spit out “Excuse me? Men traditionally don’t change their names when they marry, and no one says that they’re not committed to the marriage.” “But that’s different.” “No, it’s really not.” Repeat eleventy billion times in the last few years.

    (I also freak out EVERY time we go to a wedding and the couple is announced as Mr and Mrs Hisfirstname Hislastname. SHE IS A PERSON NOT AN APPENDAGE. At least announce them as Histname and Hername Hislastname, if you must.)

    I don’t care if other women (or men! or genderqueers!) personally decide to change their name for whatever reasons are important to them. Go for it. But I DO care when other people expect ME to make a particular choice for THEIR comfort. Seriously, the way people go on about “But you’ll have a different name than your spouse/children! Aren’t you afraid people will think you’re not married/they’re not your “real” children?” you’d think that not fitting into society’s damn boxes was the END OF THE FUCKING WORLD. I realize that these societal name expectations can, in fact, cause the occasional legal problem (bank accounts, mortgage appliactions, etc.) but you know what? Despite my intentionally innocuous public presentation, I still end up having to explain myself to someone EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. So I’d much rather explain one more thing than ever change myself for the comfort of anyone else.

  185. Verity Khat
    Verity Khat October 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm |

    P.S. I’ve also started using the name-change as a litmus test question on first or second dates. It’s VERY effective at sending unenlightened twatmuffins for the hills.

  186. Sarah
    Sarah October 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm |

    Valerie:
    I am in complete agreement with this post, but have to admit that I enjoy it when my Facebook acquaintances eagerly change their names, because it gives me a weird, smug satisfaction when I see them getting changed back 18-24 months later…

    Heh. I think that is called “schadenfreude,” and I totally get it. One of my super-alterna FB friends (always insisting on her feminist/bisexual/anticapitalist credentials) had a huge, traditional church-wedding (to a man, of course, including the ol’ name changeroo) a couple of years ago. I admit to much, much smug satisfaction when 18 months later, her status was back to “single.” Oh, FB. What a terrible person you’ve made me.

  187. Lynnsey
    Lynnsey October 11, 2011 at 2:39 pm |

    Jill: I do think they’re reacting to culture and social pressures, whether they feel pressured or not

    I don’t know that this is *necessarily* true. There is a significant difference between just mindlessly doing it because it’s expected/you’re pressured/whatever and thoughtfully considering it and just not being all that bent by it. That doesn’t mean that you don’t see the practice for what it is. It doesn’t mean that you don’t support those who choose differently than yourself. It just means that you’re not making them relevant on a personal level, which (as far as I can see) helps diminish those pressures.

  188. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil October 11, 2011 at 2:42 pm |

    However, when you (general, this time) enumerate the reasons that it’s so very wrong to change your name (as some have), you seem to imply that any woman who DOES is just too stupid/pressured/etc. to have done otherwise rather than, as I said before, just not giving a shit either way.

    Except not. We all make “antifeminist” choices. Interrogating those choices and the context in which they occur does not imply that women are too stupid/pressured/etc. to do otherwise.

  189. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm |

    Aaand round #89161237 of various feminists on a feminist website named Feministe saying: “I haz a sad, I chooz mai choice, plz don’t feminizm at me kthxbai!” 9_9

  190. Irene
    Irene October 11, 2011 at 2:45 pm |

    Related to this topic, I moved across my state and registered a change of address. My junk mail comes in adddressed to me and to my FATHER, who does not live with me. I am not married, and never have been, although yes my fther and i share a last name. I have ceased patronizing those stores which draw upon change of address information and tie in the male householder name as default.

  191. Siobhan
    Siobhan October 11, 2011 at 2:58 pm |

    Jill: Seriously. Even among the most feminist women I know, the kids almost always get dad’s last name (or hyphenated, which seems more fair). I am sure people have all kinds of reasons for that, but it does come down to tradition/ status. If I ever have kids, they are definitely taking my last name (or hyphenating). I’ve brought that up with a few dudes I’ve dated, and they universally freaked out.

    I actually did change my name when I was in my late 20s, which is one of the reasons I’m so attached to it.

    I recall a spectacular argument once with an ex whose last name was Bailey, which I’ve always thought would be a pretty cool first name for a girl. I once mentioned that if I ever had a daughter I would like to call her Bailey.

    Him: But then her name would be Bailey Bailey.

    Me: No, her name would be Bailey [MyLastName].

    He lost his shit. Personally I was bemused at the idea that he thought I would carry a child for nine months, give birth to her and do 99.999% of the work needed to care for her physical needs[1] but that he would get to be the one who named her.

    [1]Not a slight to any other fathers out there, just where this particular guy was during the entirety of our relationship.

  192. chelitah
    chelitah October 11, 2011 at 3:02 pm |

    I’m from the States, which this conversation seems to be focused on, but in the other country where I currently live, no one changes their last names at marriage and everyone goes by the last names of both parents (or just one, if you don’t have two). The culture facilitates it by always having two spaces for last names, etc. so it’s not such a pain like hypenation can be in the US. The fathers’ names are usually passed down to the next generation, so I guess the people saying “it’s my dad’s name really” wouldn’t buy it, but I know several people who have chosen to use their mother’ names for their kids.

    But despite that, I really do think it’s a better solution, and I would choose it if I had kids along with keeping my name (I love my name!). For me, assuming women will keep their names and kids will get both has been kind of like breastfeeding in public (no one bats an eye at that here either)… once you live in another place where it’s totally normal and see it all the time, you start wondering why the hell it’s not the default, unless of course there is a compelling reason not to do it (and personal preference is included as a perfectly good compelling reason).

  193. Brandy
    Brandy October 11, 2011 at 3:03 pm |

    Ink: I expressly forbid my partner to buy me an engagement ring (we simply exchanged wedding bands which we are wearing on chains around our necks until we wed)

    That’s a really great idea.

    1. tigtog
      tigtog October 11, 2011 at 3:49 pm | *

      Ink: I expressly forbid my partner to buy me an engagement ring (we simply exchanged wedding bands which we are wearing on chains around our necks until we wed)

      We did something similar. I’ve been anti-diamond-engagement rings since I was about 19 when I learnt about how the tradition was essentially created as a marketing ploy by De Beers (before that some form of engagement jewellery for the woman was a common betrothal gift amongst the wealthy, but it was always dress jewellery meant for formal occasions alongside the other dress jewellery she owned, not everyday “look I am a fiancée now” jewellery).

      We both had old golden bands from previous relationships (although I hadn’t been married, he’d still given me a band one year – slightly weird). We had them melted down and recrafted into matching bands to symbolise that those relationships were part of what had forged us into the people we were (besides, they’d otherwise have just been sitting around and never worn) and wore them on our right hands until the wedding day, when we switched them to our left hands as part of the ceremony.

      1. tigtog
        tigtog October 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm | *

        P.S. I don’t want to derail the changing-name issue too much regarding engagement rings, but as a related marriage-industrial-complex tradition it’s worth interrogating as well. A quick google has found a 1982 article from The Atlantic which was probably the original source for my 19yo self regarding De Beers creating the market for diamond engagement rings – I must have read an Australian reprint somewhere.

        By 1941, The advertising agency reported to its client that it had already achieved impressive results in its campaign. The sale of diamonds had increased by 55 percent in the United States since 1938, reversing the previous downward trend in retail sales. N. W. Ayer noted also that its campaign had required “the conception of a new form of advertising which has been widely imitated ever since. There was no direct sale to be made. There was no brand name to be impressed on the public mind. There was simply an idea — the eternal emotional value surrounding the diamond.” It further claimed that “a new type of art was devised … and a new color, diamond blue, was created and used in these campaigns…. ”

        In its 1947 strategy plan, the advertising agency strongly emphasized a psychological approach. “We are dealing with a problem in mass psychology. We seek to … strengthen the tradition of the diamond engagement ring — to make it a psychological necessity capable of competing successfully at the retail level with utility goods and services….” It defined as its target audience “some 70 million people 15 years and over whose opinion we hope to influence in support of our objectives.” N. W. Ayer outlined a subtle program that included arranging for lecturers to visit high schools across the country. “All of these lectures revolve around the diamond engagement ring, and are reaching thousands of girls in their assemblies, classes and informal meetings in our leading educational institutions,” the agency explained in a memorandum to De Beers. The agency had organized, in 1946, a weekly service called “Hollywood Personalities,” which provided 125 leading newspapers with descriptions of the diamonds worn by movie stars. And it continued its efforts to encourage news coverage of celebrities displaying diamond rings as symbols of romantic involvement. In 1947, the agency commissioned a series of portraits of “engaged socialites.” The idea was to create prestigious “role models” for the poorer middle-class wage-earners. The advertising agency explained, in its 1948 strategy paper, “We spread the word of diamonds worn by stars of screen and stage, by wives and daughters of political leaders, by any woman who can make the grocer’s wife and the mechanic’s sweetheart say ‘I wish I had what she has.’”

  194. Ashley
    Ashley October 11, 2011 at 3:39 pm |

    I’m not yet sure if I want to change my name yet. I am a public figure myself and I can relate with Kim when she says that her name is her brand. It’s a huge part of her career and I think it’s smart of her to keep it for publicity reasons. That is what I might do myself. I might change it legally but I will still want to be referred to as my maiden name, at least for a while for as long as I am in the spotlight.

  195. Ashley
    Ashley October 11, 2011 at 3:41 pm |

    In addition, I completely agree that it’s not good for the husband to throw a fit if his wife chooses not to take his name. That doesn’t change the point of their marriage.

  196. Stephanie
    Stephanie October 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm |

    I took my husband’s last name. I debated on whether or not to do so, and he was supportive either ways. I’d probably still hear about it from his parents if I hadn’t, but they know these days that I will shock them sometimes, and won’t change just on their say so.

    My husband did wear an engagement ring. Still wears it, in fact. He proposed using two approximately 2000 year old Roman brass rings he bought on eBay. He wears his on a necklace because the larger one, which fit on his pinky finger, was the only one to fit me. We picked out a sapphire ring later on which wouldn’t keep turning my skin green.

    My older sister kept her name, her husband kept his, and their kids have her name. For them, the logic was simple. His second marriage, he already had kids with his name. My sister didn’t, so the kids got hers.

    As for me, I handed my middle name down to one of my daughters. It was also my mother’s middle name. I figure that’s one name that can be kept either way.

  197. Markis Melarkis
    Markis Melarkis October 11, 2011 at 3:51 pm |

    My wife’s last name used to be Cox, and my last name used to be Palmer. We decided that it was too awesome an opportunity to waste by NOT hyphenating our names to “Cox-Palmer”, so we did :) We are both somewhat juvenile that way (get it? Cox-Palmer? haha!snort), but we are still both happy with our decisions.

    I should mention that we are not having children, which seems to be a huge concern about name-taking in this thread. Also, no one has been yelly or stabby to my wife for not “taking my name”, but we live in Oregon so maybe people are more laid back about this sort of thing here, I don’t know.

    I do know that it has been more difficult for me to get banks and such to take my name change than it was for her (contrary to a comment upstream), but it’s not something I want to even complain about given how many more advantages I’ve been given due to being born a privileged white male in America — accident of birth beyond my control or no. Chase still won’t change my name without official “name change” court documents — even though most places accepted the marriage certificate with only a few questions and a couple of raised eyebrows — so they and a few other companies still have my old name. Although I was pretty happy that Social Security didn’t bat an eyelash.

    For the record, I was dead set against marriage on general principles (before she reasoned that we could have whatever marriage we wanted and we could figuratively give the finger to the conservative religious folks in this country with our profane union — which immediately appealed to me. She’s very convincing!), but now I’m glad we were wed as we both now have the added security and priveleges that come with the institution. I now can’t imagine not having that since she was recently diagnosed with rectal cancer :(

    She’s a stubborn fighter and an amazing person, and if anyone can beat this, it’ll be her. But it would be harder for us both without that silly piece of paper, and I think that’s a real tragedy for all of those people who can’t or won’t get one. They shouldn’t have to, but such is life today. It appears to be changing for the better, but it does seem like a long, slow slog sometimes.

    We also both decided, before we decided to get married and before we decided to change our names, that if we were to hypenate to “Cox-Palmer”, that we would both keep our last names for as long as we wanted to if it ended in divorce. The name is just that damn cool.

    Oh, one last thing. My lovely wife joked, when we got engaged, that at least I wasn’t one of those types that demanded that we carry on my surname because I was the last in the Palmer lineage. I admitted it had been something I’d thought about as a kid — our particular line does die with me (or, more accurately, my father now that I’m a Cox-Palmer) — but since I knew I didn’t want children, it was something I had to come to terms with anyway. I take solace in the fact that Palmer is a very common last name and those sorts of concerns are silly (to me anyway).

    These are all my opinions and not declaritives about how the world works for everyone. YMMV.

  198. tessa
    tessa October 11, 2011 at 3:54 pm |

    yes, yes, yes! can we please talk more about giving children the woman’s last name?
    it is a huge pet peeve of mine that it is totally EXPECTED that children will take the man’s last name.
    this makes no sense to me: i’m going to change my entire life for nine months, go through a grueling physical labour and then (statistically) i will most like shoulder at least 60% of the raising of the child and this kid doesn’t get my last name?? i don’t think so!
    i have found one (1) person who when i brought this up to them they did not look at me like i was some crazy radical feminazi. to me it just makes SENSE.

  199. Catherine
    Catherine October 11, 2011 at 4:01 pm |

    Attempting to weigh in on the Social Pressure V. 100% Free Choice argument:

    I am wondering if perhaps the problem lies in assigning so much significance to outcomes. The woman who changes her name and the woman who doesn’t have arguably been exposed to the same social pressures on the subject. The woman who changes her name is often seen as the one who gave in/didn’t think it through/is subconsciously more oppressed than she realizes, and I’m not sure that’s a fair assessment.

  200. Kara
    Kara October 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm |

    Lynnsey: You didn’t.

    I was agreeing with you and adding the thought that maybe some of us who aren’t offended by it are not the property of our husbands or too stupid to realize how oppressed we were by this insidious removal of our identity or something (as others, more than once, implied) just because we don’t really care.My most sincere apologies for any confusion.

    Gotcha! :)

    Confusion all around… time for more coffee, obviously.

  201. Brian
    Brian October 11, 2011 at 4:16 pm |

    It strikes me pretty hard that justifications offered here for why children should have the woman’s name boil down to “Children are the soul/main providence of the mother”, which is usually seen as a pretty sexist construct (father as babysitters, how the children turn out falling largely/solely on the mother, etc.)

    Father and not the mother’s name doesn’t solve much – alienating the mother from the family rather than the father isn’t as strong, because the mother is usually seen as the core of the family. But it’s a minor improvement at best. Inventing, amalgamating, choosing, or hyphenating all seem like better options – one might be able to assume Mr. HerLastName for the purposes of being a parent, depending on jurisdiction (for instance, I could do this, living in Ontario).

  202. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm |

    Jill: Criticizing a widespread practice that is fundamentally rooted in misogyny and outlining reasons why that practice is bad (emphasis supplied) while at the same time recognizing that the practice is widespread and often hard to counter is not the same thing as attacking individuals who engage in that practice.

    The problem I often have with social justice critiques like this one is that the bolded part is frequently missing. Ok, so such-and-such tradition has some pretty ugly historical roots. So what? It’s 2011, not 1811, and no one really thinks about {insert cultural practice} that way anymore. These days, {insert cultural practice} simply evokes feelings of nostalgia and cultural connectedness, not {insert repugnant original symbolic significance}, so what harm does the continuation of the practice actually cause? And hand-wavy “well, its part of a larger culture of oppression” critiques aren’t particularly persuasive, unless the issue at hand can be plausibly and expressly connected to the larger pattern.

    For the name-change thing, I just don’t see it having much relevance to larger patterns of misogyny in contemporary American culture (which is all I can really speak to). So, in that case, people should just do whatever works for them personally, and the whole social justice critique rings hollow.

    Having said all that, however, I should note that I believe it’s certainly possible for the history of a particular practice to be exclusively repugnant and the symbolic connection to that history so obvious and unbroken that you really can’t pretend it’s not still there (e.g., claims that the Confederate battle flag is about “heritage not hate” are ridiculous), but in the context of wedding traditions, I just don’t think that’s the case.

  203. AshKW
    AshKW October 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm |

    The Spousal Unit never breathed a word about name changing before we got married; I chose to hyphenate because for me it was symbolic. I was joining my life to his. For the same reason he didn’t say a word to me about changing my name, I didn’t say anything to him either, and he kept his. Lazy is probably the reason.

    BUT. His family threw the world’s biggest hissy fit and still insist on addressing me as “AshW” or “Mrs. W” and I am going to claw out eyes if this continues. We have repeatedly told people we prefer to be addressed, if to both of us, as “S and A KW.”

    Our children will be KWs, and it is none of my concern whether they choose to use one half of their last name, all of it or call themselves something entirely different. I really don’t care.

    Our names are a huge part of how we define ourselves; it’s no one’s business how we choose to do that.

  204. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie October 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm |

    I just don’t think that’s the case

    Of course you don’t. You’re speaking from the position of male privilege. You’ve never experienced misogyny; it has never affected your personal life; so why should you care? That weddings and marriage have their roots in property transfer is hardly irrelevant in women’s lives today, even if you “don’t think it’s the case.”

  205. DanaR
    DanaR October 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm |

    Oo, oo, I’ve totally found the answer that makes me most comfortable with naming kids. I think the kids should have the surname of the primary caregiver.

    I have to admit this makes me pleased because (a) it explains to me why I’ve always felt most kids should have their mother’s name but also (b) if I were to have kids with my partner he has a dying last name… but he’d also be the primary caregiver. Moot point since we’re not having kids but makes things easier in my brain. :P

    Not to say there wouldn’t be exceptions, but that would be a social norm that makes sense to me.

    Re: names, personally I have my mother’s last name. I was born mid-80s, my parents weren’t married, I don’t think it was ever a question that I’d have my father’s last name (though ironically given the above he was going to be the primary caregiver); he died when I was 11 months old. My other father raised me since I was very little, but I’ve never felt the slightest inclination to have the surname of either father. I *do* wish I could have the father who raised me on my birth certificate without erasing my birth father (who loved me very much) but that’s a different story.

    Having my mother’s surname was never a problem – even when my father was more involved in my schooling. Not that I noticed anyway.

    Personally I can’t begin to imagine changing my name… for some people it’s the most comfortable choice, but it’s an alien concept for me to imagine, really.

  206. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm |

    tinfoil hattie: I just don’t think that’s the caseOf course you don’t. You’re speaking from the position of male privilege. You’ve never experienced misogyny; it has never affected your personal life; so why should you care? That weddings and marriage have their roots in property transfer is hardly irrelevant in women’s lives today, even if you “don’t think it’s the case.”

    This would be another example of a hand-wavy argument. If you want to make an affirmative case for why an existing cultural practice is harmful, you have to actually make it. Otherwise, you’ll just be (a) preaching to the choir and (b) undermining your own case in the eyes of those who don’t already agree.

  207. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm |

    AshKW: Our children will be KWs, and it is none of my concern whether they choose to use one half of their last name, all of it or call themselves something entirely different. I really don’t care.

    Yeah, the kid-naming thing is tough when you start thinking ahead to when they get married and have their own kids. When my girlfriend and I get married, we’ll each be keeping our existing names, and we plan to go with some kind of hyphenation thing for the kids, but we’ve often wondered how they’ll be able to carry that on to the next generation if they choose to do so. Multiple hyphenations can get unwieldy pretty quickly!

  208. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 11, 2011 at 5:02 pm |

    R.Dave, if we started from a clean slate, isn’t it obvious that people would adopt all sorts of different naming conventions? Yet the historical Anglo-American patrilineal norm remains about a hegemonic 95% in the US, and always has been a hegemonic norm. Doesn’t this near-absence of competing modes suggest that it’s a norm that enforces conformity just by being entrenched? As to why it’s problematic, the 200-plus comments above this argue that very well. So it’s problematic, it’s historic to a period of legally enforced inequality, and it’s unabated since then. What further argument do you need?

  209. Ismone
    Ismone October 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm |

    R. Dave,

    You *are* speaking from a position of privilege. Because I changed my name with marriage to two names (birthlastname newlastname), now (1) everyone who knew me as a child knows that I was married, if they haven’t seen me in a while, they often congratulate me, and then I have to tell them I am divorced, and (2) because I had professional contacts under both last names (birthlastname, newlastname) it was a really good idea to keep both after the divorce, again, making the divorce public record. Considering the stigma against divorce, particularly for women, it is a real problem. Should I remarry, which is likely (I am the pair-bondy kind) taking a third last name would be pretty ridiculous, even though the contacts I have under both birthlastname and newlastname are pretty valuable, so I either have to risk losing those contacts.

  210. Ismone
    Ismone October 11, 2011 at 5:06 pm |

    Bother. So I either have to risk losing those contacts or dealing with the social pressure to change to newhusband’s newlastname. (I am cis, hetero., etc.)

  211. EG
    EG October 11, 2011 at 5:06 pm |

    there are plenty of males of child-bearing age

    Heh. This cracked me up. I know it was a slip of the tongue, but I’m quite certain that there are no male human beings of child-bearing age anywhere.

    but please try not to imply (or state outright) that those of us who don’t really give a shit are brainless cattle waiting to be branded by our new masters.

    Do you want to give an example of when this happened? On this thread?

    However, when you (general, this time) enumerate the reasons that it’s so very wrong to change your name (as some have), you seem to imply that any woman who DOES is just too stupid/pressured/etc. to have done otherwise rather than, as I said before, just not giving a shit either way.

    Oh, so it’s OK with you if we keep our names, but if we dare to talk about why and the patriarchal history embedded in the tradition, that’s too much for you to handle? The implication that you are stupid/pressured/etc.? That’s coming from you. Jill noted that she herself does patriarchy-approved things. We all do. That’s what it means to live in a patriarchy.

    The woman who changes her name is often seen as the one who gave in/didn’t think it through/is subconsciously more oppressed than she realizes, and I’m not sure that’s a fair assessment.

    OK. Tell me, where has anybody on this thread made that assessment. Again, Jill noted that she wears high heels, even though they fuck up her feet. I noted that we all pick our battles. I shave my legs and armpits. I don’t shave them because I just happen to like that better. I shave them because I feel unattractive when I don’t, and the reason I feel that way is down to patriarchal social pressure, and the agita and self-consciousness that I feel from not shaving is far greater than the amount of time it actually takes me to conform to this particular example of patriarchy, so it’s not a battle I choose to fight. Why do some women who change their names feel like they’re so much better and more immune to patriarchal social pressure than the rest of us?

    It strikes me pretty hard that justifications offered here for why children should have the woman’s name boil down to “Children are the soul/main providence of the mother”, which is usually seen as a pretty sexist construct

    It’s also reality. The physical labor of creating and producing the child is the mother’s. The social reality is that women are responsible for the vast majority of childcare. If men want to step up and take over a shitload of that, we can talk about naming. Until that day, too damn bad.

    Giving the kids the father’s name has had nothing to do with bringing the father into the family. It has to do with ownership and power. Check and see how recently it was that mothers got any rights to see their kids at all in the event of a divorce.

  212. EG
    EG October 11, 2011 at 5:11 pm |

    For the name-change thing, I just don’t see it having much relevance to larger patterns of misogyny in contemporary American culture (which is all I can really speak to).

    Have you read any of the rest of the thread? It erases women from history, it fucks with the lives of women with careers, and it suggests an identity change for women with marriage that is never assumed for men. It is embedded in those patterns.

  213. anna
    anna October 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm |

    “Ok, so such-and-such tradition has some pretty ugly historical roots. So what? It’s 2011, not 1811, and no one really thinks about {insert cultural practice} that way anymore.”

    Unfortunately, many people do think a woman who doesn’t change her name doesn’t care about her marriage. Women are pressured to change their names and men are pressured not to, which as previously noted is sexist bullshit that needs to end. When name-changing is a realistic, common option for both genders upon marriage, then it will not have anything to do with sexism. As it stands, it does have a great deal to do with sexism. Sure, women change their names for lots of reasons, fine, but where are the men with awful fathers or horribly spelled/pronounced names taking their wives’ name? Where are the women saying, hey I want you to take my name so we can be a united family? They hardly exist (though I’m sure there are a few, roughly 90% of women change their names upon marriage as of 2004 in America, according to Slate magazine: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2004/03/the_maiden_name_debate.html) because changing her name is what Wifey does, and passing on his name is what Hubby does, and that’s crap. And it does have real-world implications – it’s harder for old acquaintances to find you, old publications, businesses, etc you had under your old name may no longer be understood as having been yours (oh I wish I could recommend you my old psychologist, Mary Smith, but she must have married since I left her, I can’t find any Mary Smith practicing now) and it’s just a huge hassle getting all your paperwork changed. And women are expected to do it just because they’re women, and the rationalizations are often sexist in themselves- your name doesn’t belong to you sweetie, it belongs to your father! Giving up your name proves you’re committed to the marriage (nothing like starting marriage off with the wife making a sacrifice to prove her love for Hubby, while he does nothing in return).

  214. Ismone
    Ismone October 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm |

    A few general points:

    (1) any of the reasons given for a women wanting to change her last name are just as likely to apply to a man. So if that were really it, it would be far closer to 50-50.

    (2) naming the children/combining names is rather easy, if you follow the name combining traditions of either the English or of various Spanish-Speaking cultures. For example, Elizabeth Cady became Elizabeth Cady Stanton upon marriage. Bush pere was named George Herbert Walker Bush, to honor his mother who was of the Walker family. For a modern twist, the woman could be herfirst hermiddle hislast herlast and the man could be hisfirst hismiddle herlast hislast so that they both maintained their existing names and recognized the joining of the families. Children could be hypenated, or herlast hislast/hislast herlast could be alternated.

    Or just her last name, because childbirth is kinda challenging. So I am told.

    (3) In my own life, my ex was willing to change to my birthlastname, but had the same first name as one of my brothers. Also, my birthlastname is not very ethnically accurate for either of us. So we considered “orphaned” surnames on both sides of the family–last names that died a few generations back because no one passed them on. We picked the birthlastname of my great-grandmother. He became Hisfirstname hismiddlename newlastname (completely ditched his birthlastname) and I became myfirstname mymiddlename birthlastname newlastname. He got an engagement present, I turned down a diamond ring (politely, I do have manners, and it was a family ring that was spontaneously offered to him, so no dollars were harmed, we later bought a cheaper, prettier, cooler sapphire), I wore a cream-and-colored dress, my father has not walked myself or any of his married daughters down the aisle in a giving-away or non-giving away fashion, and yeah. Some of us do live our values, AngryBlackMan. Really.

  215. llama
    llama October 11, 2011 at 5:18 pm |

    ellid: And a woman should wear what she wants and walk with whomever she wants down the aisle

    I would never marry a woman who wanted to walk down an aisle.
    A good civil ceremony doesn’t have any of that patriarchal church based tradition.

  216. llama
    llama October 11, 2011 at 5:33 pm |

    There is an unbiased naming convention by Bryan Sykes who wrote “The Seven Daughters of Eve”.

    His idea is that everybody carries two surnames a matriname a patriname. Both are worked out as surnames are now except the matriname is based on female descent.

    Your kids get their matriname from the mother and their patriname from their father.

    You can choose the order of these however you like but one suggestion is that girls get matriname first and boys get patriname first (this is the part of the name they will each pass on).

  217. Ismone
    Ismone October 11, 2011 at 5:36 pm |

    Incidentally, to continue with the Bush family tree (of all family trees) to show how names can be passed down:

    George W. Bush stands for George Walker Bush. “Walker” is his paternal grandmother’s maiden name. His father was named George Herbert Walker Bush, “Walker” being his mother’s maiden name.
    George H.W. Bush’s mother was named, at her death, Dorothy Wear Walker Bush. “Bush” was the surname of her husband, Prescott Bush. “Walker” is the surname of her biological father at his birth, and “Wear” is the surname of her biological mother at her birth.

  218. Asinknits
    Asinknits October 11, 2011 at 5:47 pm |

    My sister threw her own family name away on Sunday with hardly a hesitation – which made me feel a little uncomfortable, as if I do get married I don’t want to give my family name up, cause my family are good people. But as I said to myself all the way through the lead up to the wedding and the wedding (I was the MOH by the way), ‘it’s her wedding, her tastes, her decisions’…

  219. bleh
    bleh October 11, 2011 at 6:03 pm |

    AshKW: bleh

    I had to fight this battle for a while. I returned mail. I wrote notes explaining. I encouraged them to use my first name only. I suggested using my title “Dr” rather than the offensive “Mrs” I won eventually. They hate it, but I don’t care.

  220. Aydan
    Aydan October 11, 2011 at 6:11 pm |

    EG: Heh.This cracked me up.I know it was a slip of the tongue, but I’m quite certain that there are no male human beings of child-bearing age anywhere.

    Er… not even trans men?

    Marriage is looking increasingly unlikely given my sexual and romantic orientations, same with having kids, but when I was going down that path, I never considered changing my name. My boyfriend was cool with it, but we never really talked about what we might do about kids– I think I might have said something like, “They could have your name.” At the time, it seemed like me not changing my name was enough of a rebellious feminist thing to do that I would have needed to make concessions elsewhere.

    Now I’m torn, should it ever become an issue. On the one hand, it doesn’t seem like passing down my name should matter to me; on the other hand, I would kind of like to should I ever have children. But I don’t feel that would be fair to my partner, to pass down only mine. I think the solution I would prefer would be to give some of them my and some of them my partner’s last name, except for the bit where that would entail having more than one kid!

  221. bleh
    bleh October 11, 2011 at 6:12 pm |

    Sorry about the quotation fail above.

    To R. Dave – the examples people have given about actual problems changing names cause are not “hand -wavy.” Publications in a previous name, professional reputation built w/ original name, the desire to avoid feeling like you have lost part of your identity. Did you *read* the thread before making your claim that there was no “outlining of reasons it was bad”?

  222. Complicated
    Complicated October 11, 2011 at 6:17 pm |

    I see a couple comments saying that kids should get the mother’s last name because she’s the one who gives birth. As I understand it, that’s precisely why most traditions involve giving the kid the father’s last name*. The point was that its always obvious who the mother is (at least before egg donations were possible) and its not generally obvious who the father is. You know the mother is the mother because she was there when the baby was born, but you only know who the father is if both the mother and father agree to publicly acknowledge it, and naming the kid after the father was usually the way this was done.

    I agree, though, that nowadays that rationale doesn’t make sense in a lot of societies, and could stand to go the other way.

    *(Even in the cultures where the names get combined, usually its the mother’s name that gets dropped eventually, upon marriage or the next generation, and the father’s name is the one that is kept longer.)

  223. Florence
    Florence October 11, 2011 at 6:21 pm |

    In my family, the women either maintain their last name at marriage or it replaces their given middle name.

    I maintained my last name when I got married, and while I was initially annoyed with people screwing up my last name or my in-laws hopefully addressing cards to me for “Florence Ofhusband” (and people asking whether I took my marriage seriously, and people asking what my kids would think, and people asking how my husband felt, and people asking how people would know that we’re married) I just go about my business and don’t offer any explanation to anyone other than, “Yes, we all have different last names and I’m sorry that bothers you. Now…”

    Because there really aren’t very many capacities in which someone else *needs* to know anyone else’s marital status or their relation to another person. When they do, we can address that. But since I’m monogamous and already married, unless the school or a doctor’s office asks me to hand over a birth certificate to prove parentage — and I dare any institution to do so — this is a non-starter.

  224. zuzu
    zuzu October 11, 2011 at 6:28 pm |

    tigtog: I’ve been anti-diamond-engagement rings since I was about 19 when I learnt about how the tradition was essentially created as a marketing ploy by De Beers (before that some form of engagement jewellery for the woman was a common betrothal gift amongst the wealthy, but it was always dress jewellery meant for formal occasions alongside the other dress jewellery she owned, not everyday “look I am a fiancée now” jewellery).

    Not to mention, De Beers is a cartel which controls most of the world’s diamond supplies. Therefore, they artificially inflate prices. Ever try to pawn a diamond? You won’t get nearly what you paid for it new.

    Pawn shops are a good place to buy genuine diamonds, or you can get loose ones and have them set for much less than buying a full ring.

    That’s aside from the whole blood diamonds issue.

    Besides, there are some new lab-created diamonds which are much, much cheaper, identical to natural diamonds, and every bit as pretty.

    I’m a fan of claddagh rings for men and women.

    Not much to add on the name front since I would never change mine unless the combination was just too delicious to resist (I know someone who took her husband’s name, Quattlebum, and for serious, if I married a man with the name Quattlebum, I WOULD TAKE THAT SHIT). And I say this as someone with a sing-songy birth name combination that was chosen because my parents liked my first name even if it sounds slightly ridiculous with my last name, and they figured I’d change my name when I got married. Well, I just turned 43, I’m not married, I’m in no danger of it, and unless Mr. Quattlebum comes along and sweeps me off my feet, I’m not changing my name anyhow.

    Also: How do you feel disconnected from your own name? It’s YOUR NAME.

  225. zuzu
    zuzu October 11, 2011 at 6:32 pm |

    Actually, I’d take the name of anyone who would make my name sound like that of a Wodehouse character.

  226. Florence
    Florence October 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm |

    Zuzu Quattlebum.

  227. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 11, 2011 at 6:40 pm |

    zuzu:
    Actually, I’d take the name of anyone who would make my name sound like that of a Wodehouse character.

    You can marry one of my cats (Gussie and Beezly) as both of their names came from Wodehouse characters.

  228. Robotile
    Robotile October 11, 2011 at 6:44 pm |

    I kept my name when I got married. I had already come across to his family as non-traditional, so even if they didn’t like it, it was just framed as a non-negotiable thing that they didn’t expect me to do. When we said we were getting hitched, they said “she’s keepign her name, right?” This, I think, is key to avoiding the familial pressure bullshit to change your name–start off strong don’t bother trying to seem flexible and act as if your choice is the normative one, and that they’re being weird and unreasonable to try to ask something of you that’s so invasive.
    I’m pregnant, and there’s no way in hell the kid will get his last name…mine is awesome and allows me to trace my family back 800 years, his is a made-up last name that sounds like an insulting work (think Kakaurin or Shlamazel). Also, if the baby is staying in my body for 10 months, it’s getting my name. If it’s a boy, the y-chromosome can get his last name.

  229. zuzu
    zuzu October 11, 2011 at 6:45 pm |

    I’m holding out to be Zuzu Twistleton-Twistleton.

  230. Catherine
    Catherine October 11, 2011 at 7:01 pm |

    “EG: OK. Tell me, where has anybody on this thread made that assessment. Again, Jill noted that she wears high heels, even though they fuck up her feet. I noted that we all pick our battles. I shave my legs and armpits. I don’t shave them because I just happen to like that better. I shave them because I feel unattractive when I don’t, and the reason I feel that way is down to patriarchal social pressure, and the agita and self-consciousness that I feel from not shaving is far greater than the amount of time it actually takes me to conform to this particular example of patriarchy, so it’s not a battle I choose to fight. Why do some women who change their names feel like they’re so much better and more immune to patriarchal social pressure than the rest of us?”

    I definitely didn’t say that assessment had been made on this thread. I’ve just encountered it many times and I thought it might be pertinent. I also didn’t say anything about women who change their names being “so much better and more immune to patriarchal social pressure.” Patriarchal social pressure affects everyone, as I said. I’m just saying that I’m not sure it’s correct to conclude that the woman who wears high heels or changes her name does so primarily because she’s caved to that pressure, as a lot of people seem to.

  231. Kaz
    Kaz October 11, 2011 at 7:02 pm |

    I’m queer and don’t have much of a stake in this issue (my chances of getting married are very small, my chances of getting married to a guy are even smaller, and I’m not entirely female anyway so where do nonbinary people fit in this picture?), I’d just like to point out that it’s not actually true everywhere that you can “just change your name at any time” if you have some objections to your legal name. For instance, I’m from Germany and I know the name-change laws are extremely restrictive. Just saying, since I’ve seen that repeated several times across this thread.

    Oh yeah, one other thing: I’ve never understood the “but think of the children!” argument; my mother didn’t change her name and I can’t remember ever being confused or feeling like less of a family because of it. I can mainly remember having proto-feminist outrage on her behalf at all the mail that was sent to Mrs Mydad’slastname (she’s a Dr., to boot) and being jealous that I got my dad’s name instead of hers because hers is cooler. (She tells me I ought to be happy not to have to deal with an umlaut, mind you, so it may have been US bureaucracy failing at coping with non-Anglo names that led to me having the name I do.)

  232. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley October 11, 2011 at 7:07 pm |

    auditorydamage: My last name is ten letters long and Polish. People regularly botch it. Whether or not we pick a new name, there’s no way in hell I’d expect my partner to take it – not that I would otherwise, it’s added impetus to do something interesting.

    No no no, when I said hyphenate in terms of my partner, I meant like this

    I meant my partner would keep their original last name and hyphenate it with our new last name we made up.

  233. Kamali
    Kamali October 11, 2011 at 7:22 pm |

    As a guy I do not normally feel comfortable participating in discussions here (even though I have been a daily lurker for years and years), but I feel this is one I can safely dip my big toe into…

    I have always had a strange relationship with my own name. When I was about 14 or so, I got the notion that I wanted to change my last name to my paternal grandfathers original last name. A little background: My parents divorced when I was young, and my lineage is from two distinct ethnic backgrounds (without going TMI, think Pacific Islands + Europe, not that it is important I suppose)… Ok, so my paternal grandfather immigrated to this country and fought with the Air Force in World War II. When he joined the military one of his commanding officers more-or-less demanded a name change (it was a different time I guess). So my grandfather lost his original last name for an Americanized translation of the meaning of it.

    Anyway, after my parents divorced I was raised with my mothers family and rarely got to interact with my fathers side of the family. As it turns out I have my Fathers last name but it was my Mother who chose my First and Middle names…So when I was about 14 or so I got this idea in my head (that I have never acted on but never really left either), that I wanted to change my last name to the original pronunciation and spelling to my Grandfathers original birth-last-name, because it is through my Grandfather that that part of my eithnic background comes from, and it had become important to me to acknowledge/include some nod to that part of my heritage.

    To put it another way: Neither one of my parents ever discussed with me what my First, Last, Middle name would be at my birth. (they didn’t discuss religious choices etc. with me either, but that is another discussion! haha)… So sorry, Mom and Dad, but I don’t feel a hugely strong bond with *any* of my birth names. I had no choice in any of them.

    I am a huge huge fan of the freedom of personal choices in all aspects of life, and I feel as if a person should be free to call themselves whatever names they wish for whatever reasons they wish, and I don’t feel any need to judge any of it for any reason. Fathers name, Mothers name, Hyphenated joint names, amalgam of names, etc….choose whatever means the most, and makes the most sense to you.

    The best thing I have heard in this entire thread was the post early on in which Husband and Wife both chose to take the last name “Valjean” haha :) I loved it!!

    I totally dig the idea of couples choosing a last name that represents their ideals or backgrounds or whatever is really important to them and has personal meaning to them. And at this point I suppose it goes without being said that I also feel that a parent shouldn’t feel any ‘ownership’ over their childrens last name (or any part of their name for that matter) either. By the time a person is an Adult, we ought to respect whatever name they choose, and leave them alone about it.

    For me, a persons name shouldn’t be just a collection of letters and sounds chosen by their parents (or their spouse or what-have-you), but have personal meaning and intense meaning. What could be more personal than what a person calls themselves and identifies as? At least that is how I see it. I’d like to see the whole naming norms in our culture shaken up obviously :)

    (Forgive me for talking so much about my childhood in a thread primarily about marriage, I do so only to illustrate one reason why cultural norms have less meaning to me on the subject of names than personal attachment/meaning does, and that even during marriage, names should be more fluid than they typically are. i.e., not a binary decision between birth-name and spouses name or something…)

    Valjean! (Thanks for the smile!) :)

  234. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 11, 2011 at 7:27 pm |

    Er… not even trans men?

    I believe the original wording was “male” not “man” so no.

  235. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm |

    R. Dave, for someone who decried people’s objections to your point as “hand-wavy,” you’ve been pretty hand-wavy yourself of the numerous comments from women (the people who have to deal with this crap, unlike you) that specify why they think it is a big deal. FFS. You don’t get to mansplain what is important to the wommenfolk.

  236. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 11, 2011 at 8:07 pm |

    Sarah: About the original post: what I think is fucked up is that Kim Kardashian’s fiance is all freaked out when she says she wants to keep her name because it’s her money-minting brand name, but is ok with it once he tells himself she’s keeping it ’cause it’s her dad’s. Sounds like he has a problem with women having their own power.About me: I always wanted to change my last name, since I was a kid. It’s common, boring-sounding, and associated with my asshole dad. I used to fantasize trying on different, better-sounding names, and then I fell in love with a guy with a beautiful-sounding last name and wanted to take his, and then he dumped me, and well anyway long story short, I currently go by my own last name. It’s a career name, like back in medieval times when your last name was what you did. It’s on my business cards and it’s how I introduce myself to potential friends and lovers. They know me as Sarah HarperI haven’t changed my last name legally yet because I still have to work at day jobs. When being a false self, I might as well have a false name. When I can make my money off music and nothing else, I’ll change it legally.

    He’s a football player, which explains a lot. While there may be some football players that are not complete dickheads, I doubt that feminist football players exist, and the percent of non dickheads is probably minuscule. Professional male athletes in any sport tend to be sexist jerks. Seriously, find me one that isn’t.

    I always wanted to change my first name, as I found it terribly old fashioned. I like my last name, even if it does get mispronounced a lot. (How hard is it to figure out that the ‘e’ is silent? Grr.) Anyway, the last name thing is one of many reasons why marriage isn’t going to happen for me.

  237. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil October 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm |

    I would never marry a woman who wanted to walk down an aisle. A good civil ceremony doesn’t have any of that patriarchal church based tradition.

    Really? Both the civil weddings I’ve been to involved the bride processing down an aisle (backyard weddings, both).

  238. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 11, 2011 at 8:18 pm |

    bleh:
    To R. Dave – the examples people have given about actual problems changing names cause are not “hand -wavy.”Publications in a previous name, professional reputation built w/ original name, the desire to avoid feeling like you have lost part of your identity. Did you *read* the thread before making your claim that there was no “outlining of reasons it was bad”?

    Quoting Bleh’s response to my comment, but also intended to be a reply to EG, Anna, Ismone, Thomas and others who responded….

    I did read the thread, and I don’t deny that there are problems involved with changing one’s name. However, they are mostly practical problems associated with any name change, not social justice problems that have (to quote my own comment) “relevance to larger patterns of misogyny in contemporary American culture.” Although there is a social justice element – those practical problems fall almost exclusively on women – the practice does not reflect or contribute (much) to misogynistic attitudes anymore because it has been largely stripped of its original symbolic meaning.

    In essence, I’m drawing a distinction between gender-specific norms and traditions that simply impose differing costs on men and women and those that perpetuate misogynistic attitudes. Compare, for instance, clothing norms that only women wear high heels and skirts to clothing norms that only women must veil or otherwise hide themselves from view. While the former may not be entirely unproblematic, the latter is much more closely tied to a misogynistic view of a woman’s place in society.

    Still, there’s a spectrum to all this, of course, and I do concede that the name-change thing is further out on the misogyny scale than other marriage-related traditions.

  239. Athenia
    Athenia October 11, 2011 at 8:22 pm |

    Kamali:

    I have always had a strange relationship with my own name.When I was about 14 or so, I got the notion that I wanted to change my last name to my paternal grandfathers original last name.

    You should definitely do it! I wish I could randomly take my grandmother’s or great-grandmother’s last name for my own. I think if my future husband suggests something like that, I would totally be game for that.

  240. xenu01
    xenu01 October 11, 2011 at 9:07 pm |

    alynn:
    PREACH.

    Plus, best thing about skipping the name change…

    You do NOTHING. Like, literally nothing. Laziness reins.

    But seriously, I’ve been married nearly 3 years and people routinely 1) don’t think I’m really married and it must be a fake Facebook marriage because I still have the name they knew me by in high school. 2) don’t think it’s even an option to not change your last name.

    No really. When they find out I never changed my name, they’re like “You can even do that!!111!” And every time I’m like, “Yes. All you do is nothing.”

    Guh.

    Ha ha yes! I get the “you’re MARRIED???” from people who have known me for a while all the time. I can’t figure out if it’s the name thing, or the fact that I don’t talk about my husband all the time (I’m a student- I talk about history/feminism/work/politics/the bus is late/the weather, etc) or the fact that I am fat and he is thin and conventionally attractive or the fact that I look young (whatever that means) or all of the above.

  241. xenu01
    xenu01 October 11, 2011 at 9:13 pm |

    Angryblackguy:
    Sigh.Well if no one else will raise their hand to take the gun fire:

    - has anyone here who criticized a man for wanting his fiancé to take his name given the engagement ring (a symbol of unfortunate tradition equivalent to the name) back to the man in outrage?

    - did anyone who criticizes this guy flatly refuse to wear a white or cream wedding dress and go instead with a blue or red dress when walking down the aisle?

    - did anyone with two living parents demand that their mother give them away in marriage? Or better yet have no one give them away?

    Etc. These are traditions grounded in some very bad history. Lots of marriage traditions are. For example the African American tradition of jumping the broom, an act that signified the only way slaves could be married. But marriage in all of its forms should mean whatever the couple wants it to mean. If it is not sexist or hurtful for a particular couple, I don’t think it is always fair to place our burdens, struggles and hangups on that union. It is theirs to craft as they see fit.

    Particularly where no one is being hurt or degraded.

    My husband and I went to the antique store and bought engagement rings for each other for under $30. No one even knew we were engaged except for those who we wanted to know and ourselves.

    I wore a red dress to my wedding. I like the color red. I was also fat (apparently dieting for YOUR! Special! Day! is a thing?).

    No one walked me/us down the aisle. We walked in together holding hands.

  242. Lori
    Lori October 11, 2011 at 9:18 pm |

    What Jill said. Truly. I read the post and thought “there’s no way she’s articulating the arguments I’ve made to others, my family, and in my own head for years.” (Then again, I’m not 100% sold on the marriage institution, though I’m married to an amazing man and have been for 10 years. And don’t get me started on the wedding industry and wedding traditions.) Anyway, I digress. The fact is that while I’m not proud that I’m internally “judgy” of women who change their names, I am. And though my husband was not thrilled with the fact I wasn’t changing my name when I first mentioned it, thankfully, he didn’t throw a hissy fit, and years later, he began saying to me: “I’m glad you didn’t change your name. That would’ve been dumb and not at all true to who you are.” Thanks for the post, Jill, and the comments have been very interesting to read.

  243. zuzu
    zuzu October 11, 2011 at 9:19 pm |

    R.Dave: In essence, I’m drawing a distinction between gender-specific norms and traditions that simply impose differing costs on men and women and those that perpetuate misogynistic attitudes. Compare, for instance, clothing norms that only women wear high heels and skirts to clothing norms that only women must veil or otherwise hide themselves from view. While the former may not be entirely unproblematic, the latter is much more closely tied to a misogynistic view of a woman’s place in society.

    Aww, it’s so cute when the mansplainers pull out the old “You’re not really oppressed because you don’t have to wear a burka” trick.

    Here’s a clue, pumpkin: gender-based norms? Perpetuate misogynist attitudes.

    You’re welcome.

  244. andie
    andie October 11, 2011 at 9:36 pm |

    Athenia: You should definitely do it! I wish I could randomly take my grandmother’s or great-grandmother’s last name for my own. I think if my future husband suggests something like that, I would totally be game for that.

    I kind of feel this.. I’ve thought about changing to either A) my mothers maiden name – McLean or my maternal great-grandmother’s name, Campbell.. mainly because these are the branches of my family I am most familiar with, historically and from a geneological standpoint.

    One of the things that has kept me from actually getting a tattoo of either a McLean or Campbell crest and tartan is that I’m not technically a McLean or Campbell, even though I identify with these clans.

  245. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 11, 2011 at 9:59 pm |

    Upon further reflection, maybe I’m just grossed out by the whole concept that two functional autonomous adults have to mush together into some weird semi-attached unit, and I’m especially grossed out that the woman is usually the one subsuming her identity into the mix the most. It’s like the couple has to lurch forward as a two-headed critter, and the wife is the little peripheral head growth on the family’s shoulder, while the man is the actual “head of the family.”

    It’s like Adam and Eve; without a last name of her own, and that attendant history and identity, there is nothing to indicate that the wife did not spring from the man’s rib (or in my metaphor, shoulder) solely to be his mate.

  246. xenu01
    xenu01 October 11, 2011 at 10:01 pm |

    preying mantis: I still find it unspeakably–unspeakably–hilarious that nobody ever looks at a dude’s name and says “But it’s not really even yours–it’s your father’s!” like that’s actually any kind of fucking argument.

    If my name isn’t my name, it’s not my father’s name, either.It’s not even my paternal grandfather’s name.It’s not even–wait for it–my paternal great-grandfather’s name!The only person whose name it ever was, by the logic that it’s not really my name, is some dude who fled one of the Virginias ahead of a horse-thievery charge before the Civil War broke out, and that’s because by all accounts he straight made it up.

    <3<3<3

  247. Valerie
    Valerie October 11, 2011 at 10:33 pm |

    Sarah: Heh. I think that is called “schadenfreude,” and I totally get it. One of my super-alterna FB friends (always insisting on her feminist/bisexual/anticapitalist credentials) had a huge, traditional church-wedding (to a man, of course, including the ol’ name changeroo) a couple of years ago. I admit to much, much smug satisfaction when 18 months later, her status was back to “single.” Oh, FB. What a terrible person you’ve made me.

    Hahahaha. Just because the Germans named it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in other cultures. :P

    Maybe next time around your friend won’t make such a big deal of her wedding. Lessons learned, right? My original comment came from having seen three couples get married this past weekend, where all 3 brides haven’t said a single thing in the last year other than wedding-related stuff. I’m curious as to what they will talk about now that it’s all over, and more importantly, if/when one of the relationship ends. One of the brides is already on marriage #2, freshly in her late 20s…

    (It’s not FB that’s made me a terrible person; it’s unemployment, and the horse shit Canadian economy that is likely to guarantee I will continue to be jobless and therefore have too much time on my hands to notice these things!)

  248. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 11, 2011 at 10:38 pm |

    R. Dave:
    ” I’m drawing a distinction between gender-specific norms and traditions that simply impose differing costs on men and women and those that perpetuate misogynistic attitudes.”

    … and deciding that the former are not worth changing. Leaving aside whether that distinction can even be readily make, that’s a view we’re going to disagree about. I think a whole pile of social tradition that impose greater costs on women than men is a problem worth fixing. Apparently you don’t.

  249. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 11, 2011 at 10:46 pm |

    Zuzu & Sheelzebub:

    Meh. In my opinion, “mansplainer” is basically a Godwin’s for feminist discussions – use it and you automatically lose the argument because you’ve obviously got nothing useful to say in response. And no, Zuzu, not every feminist agrees that gender-based norms automatically perpetuate (or equate to) misogyny. Flatly asserting the connection does not make it true, but do feel free to make an actual argument if you wish.

  250. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 11, 2011 at 10:56 pm |

    Thomas: I absolutely agree that the pile of social traditions that impose greater costs on women is a problem worth fixing. The unequal allocation of responsibility for child-rearing is an excellent example, as is the far greater extent to which women are judged on their physical appearance. I just think there’s a tendency in feminist circles to get too hung up on symbolic issues that no longer have much substantive relevance (or even the same symbolic meaning they once had), and the name-change thing strikes me as an example of that.

  251. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 11, 2011 at 11:34 pm |

    R.Dave: However, they are mostly practical problems associated with any name change, not social justice problems that have (to quote my own comment) “relevance to larger patterns of misogyny in contemporary American culture.” Although there is a social justice element – those practical problems fall almost exclusively on women – the practice does not reflect or contribute (much) to misogynistic attitudes anymore because it has been largely stripped of its original symbolic meaning.

    Misogynist attitudes it contributes to or reflects:

    (1) Women are more concerned with marriage than career.
    (2) Women are “trailing spouses” rather than primary wage earners.
    (3) Women’s identities are secondary and subordinate to their spouses and childrens.

    All pretty big misogynistic attitudes that changing your name reinforces.

  252. Yael
    Yael October 11, 2011 at 11:50 pm |

    My husband and I changed our name to a made up name that sort of could ne a shortened version of our birth names. I refused to change mine to his. He was adamant about having the same name. I am sorry I didn’t insist he take mine.

  253. DonnaL
    DonnaL October 12, 2011 at 12:18 am |

    Bagelsan: I believe the original wording was “male” not “man” so no.

    I guess you’re one of those people who ascribes to the pseudo-scientific notion that trans men are “really” female, and trans women are “really” male, because biological sex has a fixed meaning, isn’t in any way a construct, it’s all about the chromosomes, yada yada.

    By the way, changing names for reasons other than marriage and divorce isn’t nearly as easy as people seem to think. (Especially if you’re trans and come across a judge who happens not to like trans people.)

    I happen to find the idea of women taking their husbands’ last names to be very strange. I guess we should be thankful that at least women now get to keep their first names in common practice after marriage; when I was a child it was still the case that if Jane Doe married John Smith, she was generally referred to as “Mrs. John Smith,” forever after. In other words, she entirely ceased to exist as a separate person.

  254. Laurie
    Laurie October 12, 2011 at 1:34 am |

    Ugh. This issue makes me crazy. I’ve only had a chance to read the first 80 comments (will read more when I have a chance) but wanted to give my 2 cents.

    1) As I am sure others have pointed out, isn’t it funny that women are the only ones who ever want a “fresh start” with a new name upon marriage, so they can get rid of the legacy of their crappy fathers. My husband had a crappy father, too. But he didn’t wait until marrying me to change his name. He just changed his name on his own while he was still in college. It certainly never occurred to him to take his wife’s name.

    2) The idea that a woman who keeps her name just has her “father’s name” makes me a bit stabby. I got my name from my father (and yeah, he was a abusive father too) but it is still MY name. People have called me by this name since I was born. It kind of weirds me out that people don’t think of women as owning their own names.

    3) I hate the notion that this is “only” a symbolic issue that doesn’t really matter. Symbolism is actually somewhat important. It is a way to communicate a society’s values to the next generation. One reason this issue is important to me is that women taking their husband’s names made a huge impression on me as a child: it communicated women’s lesser status and importance to me loud and clear.

    ***********************************

    My own personal story is this: I felt strongly from early childhood that I would never take a husband’s name. But when the time came to get married, my husband was upset that I wasn’t taking his name. He always thought it would be “romantic” to have the same last name as his wife. I did pull the “well, take my name” card, but his response was, “Well, I would, but I already changed my name once.” (He legally took his mother’s name in place of his father’s.) At the time, his position truly made me rethink whether I should marry him. It struck me as a major red flag that he might be controlling and sexist. In the end, I just said, “It’s not your call because it’s my name, and I just can’t live with taking a husband’s name.” Thing is, it’s been years and years and it STILL bothers him. And it bothers me that it bothers him. I’ve gotten hardly any flak from anyone else.

    The other weird thing is that my husband is really NOT controlling or sexist in general. (Really. I swear!) I still agree with Jill that a man’s position on this and how he expresses this is an indication of his attitude towards women in many or most cases.

  255. Laurie
    Laurie October 12, 2011 at 1:54 am |

    Regarding other wedding traditions, broached by some guy upthread:

    – I love his assumption that all or most women love getting a big ol’ engagement ring. In fact, this is a tradition rejected by many feminists. In my case, my husband never even broached getting me a ring because we had no money, or at least we had no desire to spend what money we had on jewelry. This was a huge relief to me because wearing an engagement ring would make extremely uncomfortable, given the sexist implications.

    I do have a work colleague who declared herself anti-engagement ring. However, when she became engaged, she wound up with a huge rock on her finger. Apparently, her fiance and his family had gone to an enormous amount of trouble to clean and reset some family heirloom diamond. It would have been difficult to say no without alienating her new in-laws. On the surface, they were being “nice” but in reality, they were sort of being assholes because they inflicted this thing on her that she is now obligated to wear for the rest of her life without, you know, consulting her.

    – It never occurred to me to have anyone walk me down the aisle or “give me away.” I’ve been to lots of weddings, usually Jewish, in which both bride and groom are walked down the aisle by their parents. That said, a lot of women who otherwise dislike this tradition naturally are reluctant to deprive their fathers of what is, to the fathers, the ultimate sentimental father-daughter moment.

    – I did wear white at the wedding. It never occurred to me at the time that there was anything sexist about it. I had always grown up with the notion that white dresses are the symbol of a fresh start. The girls wore white dresses at my high school graduation and at my college graduation. If anyone had suggested that it was supposed to symbolize virginity, I would have thought that was the tackiest thing I’d ever heard. But apparently, that is how it is interpreted by many, although I don’t know that that was the original meaning of wearing white to marry.

  256. Ismone
    Ismone October 12, 2011 at 2:10 am |

    Dave R.,

    Considering the fact that name changing makes my former marital status immediately apparent to the casual passerby (two names, no hyphen, no ring), and all kinds of people have all kinds of ideas about divorced women, well, there is that. No one knows my ex is divorced from his last name, even though he changed it.

    And yes, it is misogynistic that the culture expects me to give up my existing social contacts and very identity in order to be considered a serious partner to any future husband, and in order for my children to be considered “legitimate”–not that I like that concept either.

    Otherwise, if I don’t want to give up those contacts, our shared culture, and at least one person on this thread, will think it means that I am “not really committed” to my partner.

    I mean, think about that. The tradition is misogynistic, because unless you NAME YOURSELF AFTER YOUR PARTNER, you are judged to NOT LOVE THEM. Therefore Love, for a woman, means entirely denying the meaningfulness of your whole life and identity prior to your marriage.

    That, my friend, is some fucked up shit.

  257. Computer Soldier Porygon
    Computer Soldier Porygon October 12, 2011 at 2:31 am |

    No one walked me/us down the aisle.We walked in together holding hands.

    Awwww. I love it. I’ve been thinking I’d like to do this if I ever decide to marry and have a ceremony (I think this is unlikely but ehhhhhhh, maybe).

    Anyway, I honestly can’t even deal with the idea changing my name. Shit gives me hives. I don’t know that I like having my identity so bound up in my name, seems like nonsense when I really think about it, but I’m deeply attached to the thing anyway.

  258. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 12, 2011 at 2:57 am |

    I guess you’re one of those people who ascribes to the pseudo-scientific notion that trans men are “really” female, and trans women are “really” male, because biological sex has a fixed meaning, isn’t in any way a construct, it’s all about the chromosomes, yada yada.

    Sigh. No, it’s because male-bodied people don’t generally have uteri that gestate babies. Gender is completely unrelated to uterus-status; however “child-bearing” is related to biological sex.

  259. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer October 12, 2011 at 2:58 am |

    Siobhan:
    When When I got married to one of my partners I was genuinely surprised by the number of people who asked me if I was going to change my name. My response was always a mystified look and a “Why would I do that?”

    the woman my husband was previously married took his name and kept it after their divorce as a way of shedding some of the cultural baggage that came along with her family name. He is absolutely fine with both of our choices, which is exactly how I think it should be.

    And just for the record, I wore black and white at my wedding, neither one of us bothered with engagement or promise rings, and I was walked down the aisle by two Elvis. (Elvii?)

    If you’re going to use a Latinate plural, at least use the right one. Elves (pronouned Ell-vess) would be correct. Or just use the English plural, which is quite naturally Elvises. But Elvii is deeply incorrect.

    Don’t even get me started on the stupidity of “penii” as a plural for penis. It offends my every sensibility.

  260. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 12, 2011 at 3:01 am |

    Meh. In my opinion, “mansplainer” is basically a Godwin’s for feminist discussions – use it and you automatically lose the argument because you’ve obviously got nothing useful to say in response.

    …He done explained mansplaining to us!

  261. igglanova
    igglanova October 12, 2011 at 3:09 am |

    Thankfully, such a dismissal of the word ‘mansplaining’ only becomes legitimate via 1. being actually true, 2. consensus – not simply because a man declared it so. He’ll be waiting on that pouty little island for a while.

  262. Computer Soldier Porygon
    Computer Soldier Porygon October 12, 2011 at 3:22 am |

    Bagelsan: …He done explained mansplaining to us!

    omg, it’s like dividing by zero

  263. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer October 12, 2011 at 3:45 am |

    Bagelsan: It actually still kind of seems heteronormative to me (not to impugn their gayness or whatever) just like how some people like to map “husband” and “wife” onto same-gender couples. The whole tradition is steeped in heteronormativity no matter how queer the participants. (The same argument could be made of marriage itself, of course, and often is, fwiw.)

    You don’t get to make that call. If I want to take my wife’s name, or she wants to take mine, then that is entirely our business, and fuck you. If we choose to get married, for any value of married, then that is also our business. It is entirely possible for us to redefine those traditions for ourselves, to queer them with our use of them. We heard this argument when it was “butch and femme roles reinforce heteronormativity,” and it was bullshit then and it is bullshit now. We are queer, and any damned thing we do is queer. How dare you try to take marriage or name choices away from us by saying it’s not queer enough? Fuck you.

  264. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer October 12, 2011 at 4:11 am |

    EG: Heh.This cracked me up.I know it was a slip of the tongue, but I’m quite certain that there are no male human beings of child-bearing age anywhere.

    You’re quite wrong, then. Many trans men are of “child-bearing age”. And don’t try to say they aren’t male, it’s transphobic.

  265. igglanova
    igglanova October 12, 2011 at 4:27 am |

    WHOA can we chill out a sec? Nobody’s un-queering anyone or telling them what they can and can’t do in regards to name-taking. Do whatever you want. But I happen to agree that one partner in a same-sex marriage taking the other’s name only happens because of past patriarchal precedent. If we didn’t have that historical backdrop, it wouldn’t even occur to people to change their names upon coupling.

    It’s simply reality that queer couples often duplicate the same relationship models that are dominant in het culture. Do I have to flash my gay card before I’m allowed to have an opinion on this issue? Whether said name-taking really hurts anyone or perpetuates the patriarchy is much more up in the air for queer couples. But that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about the implications of name-changing without losing our heads.

  266. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 12, 2011 at 4:56 am |

    R.Dave: Zuzu & Sheelzebub: Meh. In my opinion, “mansplainer” is basically a Godwin’s for feminist discussions – use it and you automatically lose the argument because you’ve obviously got nothing useful to say in response. And no, Zuzu, not every feminist agrees that gender-based norms automatically perpetuate (or equate to) misogyny. Flatly asserting the connection does not make it true, but do feel free to make an actual argument if you wish.

    Meh. Men who lecture women on what the important issues are in feminism really are do tend to be mansplainers, and have zero credibility with me. Especially when they ignore the points that have already been raised, numerous times, on this very thread. I get rather tired of repeating myself, especially when it comes to douchetastic, patronizing mansplainers who do not have to live with this expectation and who discount the many points that have already been raised, hand-waved them away as unimportant, and then demand that we present him with points that are acceptable to him. And no, Dave, since you’re not the one who is expected to change your name and catches hell for not wanting to, you don’t get to declare what is “really” important, a few women who disagree that it’s a big deal notwithstanding. That’s incredibly arrogant and condescending.

    Also? If it’s not that big of a deal, then you are welcome to focus your energy on things that you deem truly important. It seems that what is important to you is lecturing the womenfolk and getting pouty when we point out your foolishness in declaring What Is Truly Important In Feminism and getting righteously offended when we give your declaration the creedence it deserves, which would be none.

  267. SarahMC
    SarahMC October 12, 2011 at 6:01 am |

    R.Dave, if the expectation that women change their names to their husbands’ upon marriage is not tied to social misogyny in 2011, then why do so many people freak out when women don’t go that route? Why do so many men demand it?
    Because they are offended by the women’s “practicality?”

  268. Kaz
    Kaz October 12, 2011 at 6:58 am |

    Okay, Bagelsan-

    There’s a few issues with the “biologically male”/”biologically female” bit. The first, which DonnaL’s already pointed out, is that life isn’t as simple as that and a lot of people don’t fit neatly into the strict categories you’re setting up – intersex people are the obvious example. Then there’s issues like people who were born with an uterus and had a hysterectomy – so they no longer belong to the category of “uterus-having people”.

    But IMO the main issue with male/female is that they are very much gendered terms. “Female”? Is associated to “woman”. Strongly so. And we frequently, frequently, use “female” in place of “woman” or “girl”. Female politician, female blogger, female whatever – 99.9% of the time, when we say this we *don’t* mean “someone of any gender who has an uterus/a vagina/XX chromosomes/etc. etc.”. Usually the biological sex characteristics of that person aren’t even the subject. Forms ask me whether I’m “male or female”, and they’re not asking that to know about my uterus or chromosomes or genitalia (which generally aren’t even remotely relevant), they’re asking so they know what binary *gender* category to slot me into. I just ran a quick search on Feministe for “female”, and lo and behold there’s a post from two days ago that uses “female” for woman. In fact, in this very thread – comment 48, “The problem is the expectation that female people change their names when getting married, not that individuals do it.”. My comment – “I’m not entirely female”. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t using “female” to include trans guys. I know for a certainty that I wasn’t.

    “Male”? Same stuff.

    Which means that I find the “but we’re talking about /biological sex/” argument extremely disingenuous, because that’s not actually how the words get used. There may be room in the language for typical-sperm-producing-anatomy and typical-ova-producing-anatomy, bearing in mind the way it is more complicated than that. But those words are not “male” and “female”. Using them just ends up reinforcing that trans* people are never “really” their genders, that a trans guy still has to be female (which, ugh, seriously?).

    Sorry for the long comment, I just see this /all the time/.

  269. llama
    llama October 12, 2011 at 8:05 am |

    Bagelsan: Meh. In my opinion, “mansplainer” is basically a Godwin’s for feminist discussions – use it and you automatically lose the argument because you’ve obviously got nothing useful to say in response.
    …He done explained mansplaining to us!

    No he explained to you that you had ignored the content of his argument and instead attacked its presentation.

    What comment would you have made if it was a woman presenting the argument?

    Would you have still gone all harpie on her and cried “mansplainer”?

  270. Brian
    Brian October 12, 2011 at 8:07 am |

    It’s also reality. The physical labor of creating and producing the child is the mother’s. The social reality is that women are responsible for the vast majority of childcare. If men want to step up and take over a shitload of that, we can talk about naming. Until that day, too damn bad.

    This is something to push back against, though, not re-enforce.

    The historical reasons for naming conventions are what they are, but one of the practical effects today is to re-enforce that children really aren’t any of their father’s business. Pushing back against both probably means amalgamating last names, or creating new ones out of the whole cloth. Everybody keeps their last names, children get the mothers’ does re-enforce the idea that women should be responsible for all the childcare, which isn’t something that should be re-enforced.

  271. llama
    llama October 12, 2011 at 8:07 am |

    Computer Soldier Porygon: Bagelsan: …He done explained mansplaining to us!
    omg, it’s like dividing by zero

    Exactly, the result is undefined and without meaning.

  272. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos October 12, 2011 at 8:10 am |

    Meh. In my opinion, “mansplainer” is basically a Godwin’s for feminist discussions – use it and you automatically lose the argument because you’ve obviously got nothing useful to say in response.

    IOW, he doesn’t understand what mansplain OR Godwin’s Law means. I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you!

  273. llama
    llama October 12, 2011 at 8:39 am |

    igglanova: Thankfully, such a dismissal of the word ‘mansplaining’ only becomes legitimate via 1. being actually true, 2. consensus – not simply because a man declared it so. He’ll be waiting on that pouty little island for a while.

    So you are “womansplaining” logic to men now? Don’t you know formal logic systems are the invention of men? You ignore thousands of years of writing and scholarship by men on the topic to tell us how it should work? Is your lack of acknowledgement

    igglanova: Thankfully, such a dismissal of the word ‘mansplaining’ only becomes legitimate via 1. being actually true, 2. consensus – not simply because a man declared it so. He’ll be waiting on that pouty little island for a while.

    He has a legitimate claim. If he presents an argument and then you attack the person rather than the argument then it clear you are not engaged in discovering the truth of the argument so how can you possibly win?

  274. llama
    llama October 12, 2011 at 8:42 am |

    I meant to say:

    Is your lack of acknowledgement an attempt at erasing them?

  275. llama
    llama October 12, 2011 at 8:49 am |

    Rare Vos: Meh. In my opinion, “mansplainer” is basically a Godwin’s for feminist discussions – use it and you automatically lose the argument because you’ve obviously got nothing useful to say in response.
    IOW, he doesn’t understand what mansplain OR Godwin’s Law means. I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you!

    And your evidence that he doesn’t understand either of these terms is?

    The clear fact here is that he presented an argument and rather than explain that reasons why the argument is wrong or otherwise he is labeled a “mansplainer” and this is apparently a logically sound argument that he is wrong.

  276. EG
    EG October 12, 2011 at 9:17 am |

    In essence, I’m drawing a distinction between gender-specific norms and traditions that simply impose differing costs on men and women and those that perpetuate misogynistic attitudes.

    Well, that’s a bullshit distinction. “See, it’s not misogynist, it’s just that this tradition causes practical problems for women. But not because of misogyny. Because of…coincidence.”

    I just think there’s a tendency in feminist circles to get too hung up on symbolic issues that no longer have much substantive relevance (or even the same symbolic meaning they once had), and the name-change thing strikes me as an example of that.

    It’s a shame a bunch of silly women have so many hang-ups about stuff that doesn’t really matter. Lucky for us that a man has come in to explain to us what’s really important to feminism.

    Which means that I find the “but we’re talking about /biological sex/” argument extremely disingenuous, because that’s not actually how the words get used. There may be room in the language for typical-sperm-producing-anatomy and typical-ova-producing-anatomy, bearing in mind the way it is more complicated than that. But those words are not “male” and “female”.

    I disagree. That’s actually what those words mean, and if we invent new ones, precisely the same conflation will happen, because the facts are that the majority of ova-producing people identify as women and the majority of sperm-producing people identify as men. “Male” and “female” refer to reproductive system distinctions, which is why we use them for non-human animals and plants (I believe), which is why it drives me nuts when my students refer to grown human beings as “males” or “females” (are we talking about horses? bumblebees? no? then the words you want are “men” or “women”). The fact that intersex people exist doesn’t change that; it just means that “male” and “female” do not cover the whole range of possible anatomies. Nor did Bagelsan say that everybody with a uterus could gestate children, so examples of female people who don’t have uteruses are irrelevant. The issue is whether or not a male-bodied person could gestate a baby.

    And don’t try to say they aren’t male, it’s transphobic.

    OK, MadGastronomer. How do you propose we differentiate, linguistically, between people with male genitals and people with female genitals (only)? Or are we supposed to say “people with male genitals only” every single time? Or should I not describe genitals as male either?

    This is something to push back against, though, not re-enforce.

    You cannot push back against the fact that the vast majority of fathers are not going through pregnancy and childbirth.

    The historical reasons for naming conventions are what they are, but one of the practical effects today is to re-enforce that children really aren’t any of their father’s business. Pushing back against both probably means amalgamating last names, or creating new ones out of the whole cloth. Everybody keeps their last names, children get the mothers’ does re-enforce the idea that women should be responsible for all the childcare, which isn’t something that should be re-enforced.

    With all due respect, that’s a load of crap. Throughout the history of western culture, children have received the father’s surname, and women have been responsible for all, or nearly all, the childcare. The idea that some kiddos should carry on their mother’s name isn’t going to do jackshit to affect childcare arrangements. Women managed to carry on feeling important and emotionally attached to their children throughout centuries of those children having the father’s last name. If men cannot, that says far more about men than it does about naming conventions.

  277. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 9:31 am |

    Kristen J.: Misogynist attitudes it contributes to or reflects:(1) Women are more concerned with marriage than career.(2) Women are “trailing spouses” rather than primary wage earners.(3) Women’s identities are secondary and subordinate to their spouses and childrens.All pretty big misogynistic attitudes that changing your name reinforces.

    I suppose one could connect the dots between “changing one’s name is potentially harmful to one’s career” and your first two points, but it strikes me as a tenuous relationship at best. Lots of things are potentially harmful from a career perspective, but that doesn’t mean reflect or perpetuate an anti-career narrative. As for your third point, I agree that there are vestiges of identity subordination in the background, but I think they’re pretty far from people’s minds these days when it comes to name changes. Outside of a few kinda creepy “submit to your husband” evangelical folks I know, I find it hard to imagine any of my acquaintenances thinking (either consciously or subconsciously), “She should subordinate her individual identity to her husband, and taking his name is a symbol of that subordination.”

    Ismone: Dave R.,And yes, it is misogynistic that the culture expects me to give up my existing social contacts and very identity in order to be considered a serious partner to any future husband….The tradition is misogynistic, because unless you NAME YOURSELF AFTER YOUR PARTNER, you are judged to NOT LOVE THEM. Therefore Love, for a woman, means entirely denying the meaningfulness of your whole life and identity prior to your marriage.That, my friend, is some fucked up shit.

    Again, I find it quite implausible that more than a tiny minority of people think changing your name means “entirely denying the meaningfulness of your whole life and identity.” Maybe you feel that way – and that’s fine, don’t change your name if it’s that symbolically important to you – but it’s definitely not the interpretation of the broader culture. Regarding the view that refusing to take your partner’s name is a sign you don’t love them, there’s a perfectly non-misogynisitc alternative explanation for that – our culture places great importance on ritual and symbolism, and there are certain activities that connote love and commitment in our culture: the giving of a ring, the ceremonial exchange of vows, the changing of the woman’s name, etc. Yes, the history of those things involves some seriously “fucked up shit”, but stripped of that historical context, as I believe they (and most everything else) are in contemporary society with its goldfish-like lack of long-term memory, they are simply the things people do to signal love and commitment.

    SarahMC: R.Dave, if the expectation that women change their names to their husbands’ upon marriage is not tied to social misogyny in 2011, then why do so many people freak out when women don’t go that route? Why do so many men demand it?Because they are offended by the women’s “practicality?”

    My reply to Ismone kind of speaks to this point. If, as I argue, the name-change is simply a cultural signal of love and commitment today, then a refusal to do it could easily trigger pretty strong feelings of hurt and doubt from the person for whom one is supposedly declaring one’s love and commitment. In addition, I imagine for a lot of people, there could be the feeling of, “Why the hell do we have to make a political statement with our marriage? Seriously, does *everything* have to be interrogated and subverted? Can’t we just not worry about this shit for once?” In short, there are alternative narratives that don’t rely on a misogynistic reason for the pushback.

  278. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 12, 2011 at 9:43 am |

    Ummm…did you not read the study above that DIRECTLY ties those things together? But please carry on bathering nonsense.

  279. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 9:52 am |

    What study are you referring to, Kristen J.?

  280. raya
    raya October 12, 2011 at 9:55 am |

    I wish I’d live in a country where it’s so easy to change your name… It seems to be a bit more acceptable for a woman to keep her name, or for both partners to hyphenate where I live. But well, making up a new last name, or changing your name without getting married is nearly impossible for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of time, patience, and most importantly money. Even then, you still have to tell a magistrate your personal reasons why you want to change your name — ‘I don’t like it’, ‘I detest my father’s family’ etc. are apparently NOT valid reasons to change your last name. Most people are denied a name change.

    It pisses me off so much because I’d really like to change my last name for personal reasons. If I’ll ever marry another woman, I’m sure as hell going to take her last name. On the other side, I’m not sure what to do if I will ever plan to marry a man. While I hate the history of my current last name, I think I’d equally hate to feel as if I’m someone’s property…

  281. EG
    EG October 12, 2011 at 9:56 am |

    If, as I argue, the name-change is simply a cultural signal of love and commitment today, then a refusal to do it could easily trigger pretty strong feelings of hurt and doubt from the person for whom one is supposedly declaring one’s love and commitment.

    It’s true, I would feel really upset and hurt if my future husband didn’t want to signal his love for and commitment to me by changing his name. I mean, without that, how am I supposed to know he really loves me? Just the fact that he’s pledging to spend his life with me?

    In addition, I imagine for a lot of people, there could be the feeling of, “Why the hell do we have to make a political statement with our marriage? Seriously, does *everything* have to be interrogated and subverted? Can’t we just not worry about this shit for once?”

    The assumption embedded in this thought, that a woman changing her name wouldn’t be a political statement, is in itself misogynist.

  282. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 12, 2011 at 9:58 am |

    R.Dave, this is a teachable moment on Standpoint Theory: you don’t get why what strikes you as a largely symbolic issue is important, and yet many of the women here see it as important and argue strongly for it. Their arguments don’t resonate with you. Could this be because your experiences are different from theirs in ways that make it hard to for to grasp what they are articulating?

  283. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 10:01 am |

    EG – so you see no difference between consciously challenging the status quo and passively conforming to the status quo without any personal consideration of the matter? The latter is just as activist and political as the former?

  284. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 12, 2011 at 10:04 am |

    See Thomas at 88.

    Also, you might consider that your experience may not be the best judge of the oppression women experience related to their career or childrearing choices. That you don’t think your circle thinks that way is not a very good sample size particularly in the face of numerous women TELLING you they’ve experienced it.

  285. Let's do the time warp again!
    Let's do the time warp again! October 12, 2011 at 10:09 am |

    Oh, look, yet another tedious discussion about white straight cis women’s very important feelings about The Name Change Issue that totally erases the lives and experiences of people who are not white straight cis women. With a couple of token queers wagging their fingers at the Bad Queers Who Emulate Het Marriage.

    ‘Nother day, ‘nother dollar.

    (Hint: Ask a group of trans people sometime about the sanctity of “birth names”–which are, of course, just as coercive as and even more non-consensual than the last names that married women feel compelled to adopt. This entire conversation rests on a faulty premise about how all of “us” relate to the names we were assigned at birth, among many other faulty premises that assume we’re straight, white, cis, etc.)

    Also, behold the just as tedious transphobia!

    “OK, MadGastronomer. How do you propose we differentiate, linguistically, between people with male genitals and people with female genitals (only)? Or are we supposed to say ‘people with male genitals only’ every single time? Or should I not describe genitals as male either?”

    Actually, my genitalia IS male genitalia, no matter its configuration, because I’m a man. And I bet you think you’re really clever–”aha, look at this insurmmontable problem I have discovered!”

    Except, of course, we wiley trans folks have an answer. Generally, you’ll see “assigned male at birth” and “assigned female at birth” used. Sometimes, you’ll see “coercively assigned male at birth” (CAMAB) or “coercively assigned female at birth” (CAFAB). That’s a BUNCH of extra syllables I know, and goodness knows we can’t expect poor cis people to utter a few extra syllables in an effort to make the world just a skotch less shitty for trans folks. It would just EXHAUST them so.

    (p.s. If you really cared so much for economy of language, you’d use “penis” instead of “male genitalia” and “vulva” instead of “female genitalia.” But that’s so much less cissexist and sciency, isn’t it?)

    - A guy who took his spouse’s last name

  286. igglanova
    igglanova October 12, 2011 at 10:09 am |

    llama, you still don’t get it after all this time? It’s the arrogance of a man coming into a feminist space with a shallow pedestrian knowledge of feminism, who then decides to give us a little talking-to about what feminism’s priorities should be. If you’d pay attention to what EG and others are saying in response, you’d see that they do provide refutations of this guy’s arguments as well as sarcastic retorts to said arrogance.

    If you still don’t see why we’re getting pissed off, then you either have a shitty handle on perceiving tone or you have a similar lack of respect for our intelligence.

  287. EG
    EG October 12, 2011 at 10:09 am |

    R. Dave — No, I don’t see any difference. If anything, passive acceptance is more politically efficacious, because it believes itself not be political, but merely “the way things are.” Once something is understood to be political, it is not “the way things are” but open to debate. The status quo is a political arrangement.

  288. EG
    EG October 12, 2011 at 10:14 am |

    Don’t you know formal logic systems are the invention of men?

    How, precisely, would you know that? All you know is that the people who have been remembered for that invention are men.

    He has a legitimate claim.

    No. He has a stupid, willfully ignorant, pedestrian claim that we’ve all heard a thousand times before: “Oh, it’s not misogynist. It’s just tradition. Nobody really believes in that stuff any more.”

    The clear fact here is that he presented an argument and rather than explain that reasons why the argument is wrong or otherwise he is labeled a “mansplainer” and this is apparently a logically sound argument that he is wrong.

    llama, my patience with you is wearing thin. I have presented quite a few reasons why his “argument” is wrong, as have others. The fact that the entirely accurate use of the word “mansplain” drowns them all out in your ears is your own problem.

  289. llama
    llama October 12, 2011 at 10:15 am |

    Kristen J.: That you don’t think your circle thinks that way is not a very good sample size particularly in the face of numerous women TELLING you they’ve experienced it.

    Do you think that the readership of Feministe are somehow a more representative sample? You have heard of selection bias? You realise all commentators here are self selecting? What sample size does he need to get the power your require?

    At the moment 87% of married college educated women take their husbands name, up from about 80% in 1990.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Married_and_maiden_names#Use_husband.27s_family_name

    These statistics imply the position of feministe commentators is somewhat at odds with those of women in general so it would seem that his circle of friends could be more representative than those posting here.

  290. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 12, 2011 at 10:26 am |

    Hegemon never says, “I am Hegemon, and you will do what I say” if he can help it, because if Hegemon has to say that, he’s already teetering. Hegemon speaks with many small voices that say, “why are you getting upset? This is just how it’s done.”

  291. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 10:31 am |

    Thomas – I appreciate the outreach, and believe it or not, I actually do try to interrogate my own positions and root out bias born of privilege (as well as any other form of bias, of course). Indeed, on this name-change issue, that’s exactly why I don’t expect my future wife to change her name, and why I think it would be preferable for the name-change tradition to either die out or at least complete its transition from expectation to mere default. The only thing I’m pushing back against in this thread is the idea that the name-change tradition is misogynistic in contemporary culture.

    This is an example, in my view, of the paradox of well-informed social critiques, including Standpoint Theory – by virtue of their own greater level of knowledge, the critic becomes a poor judge of the less-knowledgeable society they are analyzing. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not devaluing knowledge and study. I’m just saying that becoming a well-informed critic introduces its own “standpoint” bias that needs to be considered.

    In the context of the name-change tradition, well-informed feminists who spend lots of time thinking about these issues and are fully aware of the history involved and probably much more likely to feel put-upon by the tradition and to judge it, in part, based on the historical baggage, whereas the average person who doesn’t think or care about it much, no longer carries that baggage around. Thus, while the well-informed critics continue to get really worked up about the practice, to the culture at large, the practice is unmoored from its past and is now just another one of those things people do when they get married.

  292. llama
    llama October 12, 2011 at 10:33 am |

    EG: llama, my patience with you is wearing thin. I have presented quite a few reasons why his “argument” is wrong, as have others. The fact that the entirely accurate use of the word “mansplain” drowns them all out in your ears is your own problem.

    The quote of mine you include before writing this was from post #287 which was about his claim that this was Godwins law in action. At the time I made that post neither you nor anybody else had presented any argument as to why he was wrong on this point.

    The only thing drowned out by the cries of mansplaining was any logical argument.

  293. llama
    llama October 12, 2011 at 10:36 am |

    @EG I notice you put quotes around the word argument. I am a mathematician the word for us means the same as in philosophy or logic i.e., an attempt to persuade someone by reasoning or providing evidence that a particular conclusion should be accepted

  294. petpluto
    petpluto October 12, 2011 at 10:37 am |

    llama: The clear fact here is that he presented an argument and rather than explain that reasons why the argument is wrong or otherwise he is labeled a “mansplainer” and this is apparently a logically sound argument that he is wrong.

    There have been logically sound arguments up and down the board for why he is wrong. MadGastronomer in comment 17, “I discovered that in my state, you can’t change the name on a property deed. I’d have to sell my house to myself to get my wallet name on the title. No fucking way is this ever worth even the possibility of the hassle.”

    The fact that it is “only” women, the fact that it neatly demonstrates that the woman is married (or divorced) when men don’t carry that kind of public banner, the fact that it makes it difficult to find women after they are married.

    And the creme de la creme – the fact that real life women say that it matters, that they are pressured, that they are questioned about their commitment to their spouses, that they feel like they are being asked to give up part of their identity. Plus, the fact that after hearing why this is such a big deal to a lot of the people on this thread, telling women that feminists are fighting the wrong battles.

    Here’s the thing: you don’t get to dictate what battles any of us fight. If you would like to concentrate on a different issue, by all means, go forth and do that. You could even try to convince us feminists concerned with name changing to join your cause. But do not put forth the notion that this is an either-or thing. That we can either tackle the “silly” issues like whether or not women are pressured to change their names, or the “real” issues like… I don’t know, abortion. Because that’s on its face wrong; I can walk and chew gum. I can fight about name changes and fight for abortion coverage. But even if I chose to spend all of my time fighting about the name change, if that is the issue I care most deeply about, there’s nothing logical about telling me I’m fighting the wrong battle, that I’m wasting my time on something that isn’t sexist in the first place, even though it only really affects women and can make their lives harder. That? Is mansplaining at its finest.

    R.Dave: Regarding the view that refusing to take your partner’s name is a sign you don’t love them, there’s a perfectly non-misogynisitc alternative explanation for that – our culture places great importance on ritual and symbolism, and there are certain activities that connote love and commitment in our culture: the giving of a ring, the ceremonial exchange of vows, the changing of the woman’s name, etc. Yes, the history of those things involves some seriously “fucked up shit”, but stripped of that historical context, as I believe they (and most everything else) are in contemporary society with its goldfish-like lack of long-term memory, they are simply the things people do to signal love and commitment.

    It doesn’t strike you as sexist that the changing of the woman’s name is a sign of love and commitment, instead of the name change becoming more equitable between the genders over the generations?

    Please explain to me how something that women, and exclusively women, are pressured to do and are given shit for if they don’t acquiesce – even if they have the “right” reasons like Kim Kardashian – is not sexist. Because this goes beyond choosing personally to demonstrate your love and commitment to someone. This is a general society pressuring you to show your love and commitment by giving something up that is never asked of your partner.

    If I ask my guy to change his last name to mine, and he refuses, does that mean he fails the love and commitment portion of our relationship? Or do I, by asking for a symbol that is out of bounds with the traditional steps of matrimony?

  295. llama
    llama October 12, 2011 at 10:39 am |

    petpluto: There have been logically sound arguments up and down the board for why he is wrong.

    Not on the point discussed in #287 which is where you grabbed my quote from.

  296. mary
    mary October 12, 2011 at 10:40 am |

    llama: Would you have still gone all harpie on her and cried “mansplainer”?

    Are you seriously pulling out a gendered word like “harpie” to insult people who have a problem with a man acting dismissive and condescending all over this thread? SMH.

  297. llama
    llama October 12, 2011 at 10:41 am |

    petpluto: If I ask my guy to change his last name to mine, and he refuses, does that mean he fails the love and commitment portion of our relationship?

    If that is your love test then sure he fails.

  298. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 10:49 am |

    Kristen J.: See Thomas at 88.

    Ah, thanks for the pointer; I missed that post/link. Interesting article that I’ll have to do some follow-up reading about. In particular, I’d be curious to know how the study participants were informed of the woman’s name-change status and whether there were control groups where the participants had no information either way. I could see people assuming a woman who chooses not to change her name is more forceful, driven and independent (and more career-oriented) because she’s actively going against convention, but not making any negative assumptions (relative to the control group with unknown name status) about those who don’t change their names.

    Kristen J.: Also, you might consider that your experience may not be the best judge of the oppression women experience related to their career or childrearing choices. That you don’t think your circle thinks that way is not a very good sample size particularly in the face of numerous women TELLING you they’ve experienced it.

    On this point, the problem is that there are plenty of women who say the exact opposite, and, related to my comment to Thomas a minute ago, a feminist blog probably isn’t particularly representative of the experience of women generally.

  299. llama
    llama October 12, 2011 at 10:51 am |

    mary: Are you seriously pulling out a gendered word like “harpie” to insult people who have a problem with a man acting dismissive and condescending all over this thread?SMH.

    Are you trying to erase harpies?

  300. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil October 12, 2011 at 10:55 am |

    our culture places great importance on ritual and symbolism, and there are certain activities that connote love and commitment in our culture: the giving of a ring, the ceremonial exchange of vows, the changing of the woman’s name, etc. Yes, the history of those things involves some seriously “fucked up shit”, but stripped of that historical context, as I believe they (and most everything else) are in contemporary society with its goldfish-like lack of long-term memory, they are simply the things people do to signal love and commitment.

    How far removed are we supposed to be from these things before they don’t matter any more? Married women weren’t universally allowed to own property in the US until 1900 and were only allowed to have credit in their own name in 1975.

    Speaking from personal experience, getting and initially wearing my engagement ring was actually a traumatic experience. I felt as though I had been bought and paid for, to the point that I insisted that my fiance have one too. I never expected to feel that way and was, in fact, totally surprised by how strong and how visceral my reaction was.

    My husband and I had a Jewish wedding. Since I am not Jewish, I spent a lot of time reading up on various wedding traditions and customs and it’s pretty obvious that many of them have misogynistic roots or interpretations.

    Sure, you can re-interpret those traditions or choose to ignore their origins, but that doesn’t mean that those origins aren’t real and don’t matter. I don’t see why you’re so bent on arguing otherwise.

  301. petpluto
    petpluto October 12, 2011 at 11:00 am |

    llama: Not on the point discussed in #287 which is where you grabbed my quote from.

    Before that point, yes. The first 100 or so comments, yes. Coming in mid-discussion, when these things have already been hashed, to some extent and explanations for why the name change is sexist have been made, and saying, essentially, “Ladies, this isn’t sexist because it’s tradition! Plus, you shouldn’t be concentrating on this silliness when there are real problems in the world”, is mansplaining. Full stop.

    If that is your love test then sure he fails.

    Dave R.’s argument is that a woman changing her name symbolically demonstrates her love and devotion. Many women on this here very thread have said, previous to his assertion, I didn’t change my name and was questioned a lot about it, and pressured into making the change. Ergo, women were pressured by people other than their future husbands toward making that symbolic choice, and therefore it symbolizes love and commitment to a marriage to a wider audience than the guy spouse. If all that is the case, does my guy fail that wider audience test if he doesn’t change his name to mine? Do people ask him why he’s with the person making such an unreasonable demand, or do they tell him that he should do it because it’s only a name? If it’s the first, then why isn’t it always an unreasonable demand? If it’s the second, how come more men aren’t changing their names?

    There is a reason women use the reasoning of “I was abused” or “I don’t like my family anyway” when they change their names to their husbands, but very few men in the same circumstances use the opportunity to distance themselves from their families by taking the name of their wives. I’m thinking it’s probably sexism, and how we see women’s names versus men’s names.

    My guy’s brother and his wife’s first child was a daughter. She’s brilliant. N is smart, potty trained herself, doesn’t cry, and is generally a delightful kid. I say this as a person who doesn’t really like kids until they’re out of the terrible twos. She’s not, and still she’s awesome. That is how awesome this kid is, is what I’m saying. Brother and Wife “needed” to have a boy. A girl was alright, but a boy was necessary. So even though it was medically dangerous to carry another pregnancy to term, Wife did. Because the family “needed” the boy. Why? To carry on the family name. That’s what’s wrong here. That’s why the last name thing is so fraught and why it is sexist and why it is hurtful. Because you’ve gotta have a son to carry on your name. A daughter isn’t good enough.

  302. igglanova
    igglanova October 12, 2011 at 11:03 am |

    It feels so great to be called a token queer for having an inexplicably offensive opinion. OH GOD I AGREED WITH A STRAIGHT PERSON time to kick me out of your rad counter-culture movement and call me an honorary hetero. I also just love having a self-described ‘guy’ ridicule the priorities of women within feminism. Try not to trip over how radical you are.

    Seriously, I’ve seen a lot of abusive shit on Feministe but this kind of balls-out personal attack from nowhere crosses a line.

  303. Azalea
    Azalea October 12, 2011 at 11:07 am |

    Believe it or not, I agree. I’ve known my husband most of my life and he’s named after his father he’s literally a “2nd” (his family despises the idea of a “Jr.”) but he wanted his firstborn son to be a 3rd, he has wnated this since we were children it was something fundamentally important to him in his family legacy. I have always wanted to create a brand new name (combo of my ‘Maiden” name and husband’s ‘maidon?” name) about as much as I wanted to be an astronaut (which wasnt a lot, Im not that connected to my former last name at all, I didnt choose it)but we fell in love, he proposed and I said yes. Initially I was going to keep my name but then the idea of either having a different name than my son or him not continuing the legacy wasn’t so great, especially for a name I intended to change to something else of my choosing ANYWAY.

    BUT, let me tell you how stubborn I am, anything other than “its your call *insert loveydovey name here* I respect whatever you choose” would have resulted in me defiantly keeping my last name either because we wouldnt get married or because I simply never changed it (knowing damn well I wanted to change it from what it was anyway ugh).

    I dont get along well with pressure from others to make me think as they do :)

  304. Iany
    Iany October 12, 2011 at 11:13 am |

    llama:
    @EG I notice you put quotes around the word argument. I am a mathematician the word for us means the same as in philosophy or logic i.e., an attempt to persuade someone by reasoning or providing evidence that a particular conclusion should be accepted

    For a mathematician you sure make a lot of logical fallacies in your arguments.
    Everyone else has pointed them out.
    You know scientists are supposed to listen, right? Not just show up and tell people that they don’t know their own experiences as well as you do.

  305. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 12, 2011 at 11:23 am |

    R.Dave: Ah, thanks for the pointer; I missed that post/link.Interesting article that I’ll have to do some follow-up reading about.In particular, I’d be curious to know how the study participants were informed of the woman’s name-change status and whether there were control groups where the participants had no information either way.I could see people assuming a woman who chooses not to change her name is more forceful, driven and independent (and more career-oriented) because she’s actively going against convention, but not making any negative assumptions (relative to the control group with unknown name status) about those who don’t change their names.

    On this point, the problem is that there are plenty of women who say the exact opposite, and, related to my comment to Thomas a minute ago, a feminist blog probably isn’t particularly representative of the experience of women generally.

    Are you kidding me? Do you realize what a shit move this is? Go check derailing for dummies and then come back an apologize for being a complete asshole.

  306. llama
    llama October 12, 2011 at 11:27 am |

    Iany: or a mathematician you sure make a lot of logical fallacies in your arguments.
    Everyone else has pointed them out.

    Yes that is how logic works now, we can forget all those rules with cumbersome Latin names and just vote on truth.

    Iany: You know scientists are supposed to listen, right?

    You do know maths is axiomatic not empirical, mathematicians are not scientists. For a mathematician truth is merely any statement that is a logical outcome of the axioms being used at that moment.

    Iany: Not just show up and tell people that they don’t know their own experiences as well as you do.

    Tell me whose experiences I am claiming to be authoritative on?

  307. Azalea
    Azalea October 12, 2011 at 11:33 am |

    Jennifer:
    I think the whole thing smacks of property. It’s kinda like putting a brand in your cow’s ass. That bitch is MINE NOW and all that. And that disgusts me. Why do we (and by we I mean the 95% of women who do it in some way) think this is totally awesome? Seriously, we’re way outnumbered on this. I’m so sick of “I don’t care, my name isn’t mine to keep anyway” and “We’re not a family if we’re not the Hislastnames” and all those stupid excuses. It’s ridiculous to demand that someone change the name they’ve been known by for decades to show proof of new ownership. Especially in the modern era where people have jobs and publication credits.

    I don’t have any interest in pretending that it’s okay to change your name to a man’s either. Why can’t everyone keep their own damn names and the kids get at least one parent’s name, however you determine it, rather than demand someone prove her love with all that paperwork?

    My ex-fiance whined at me to hyphenate even after I told him (early on!) I had no intention of changing whatsoever. To be fair, he would have as well, but we have 10-letter-long last names and people would have killed us. And to be honest, I really think he did want name bragging rights. He was kind of a closet chauvinist, as it turned out, and we had similar fights about how I wasn’t going to do Wifely Things either, especially when he was better at them. Ironic, huh.

    But unless your mother doesnt have a history of all maternal last names (or if you”re black with a family history in America that proerpty shit is NOT a fucking euphemism and keeping your last name is highly likely keeping the slave owner’s last name) then you’re keeping a last name forced on someone else that you had forced on you.

    Realistically speaking changing the name to something new altogether is a lot more free than keeping the name forced on you at birth. No one, adopted or not, chooses their own last name as a child what you get is what you have. I know a woman who’s last name is Beetch no fucking way would I keep that. My old gym teacher was Mr. Queen. If my given last name was Queen I’d never change it.

  308. Donna L
    Donna L October 12, 2011 at 11:37 am |

    Thank you, Kaz and MadGastronomer and Let’s Do The Time Warp Again, for trying to penetrate the wall of obtuseness that seems to surround a lot of the commentariat here with respect to trans issues.

    I do find it rather amusing that some of the very same people who rightly point out the “mansplaining” that people like Dave are happy to turn around and engage in precisely equivalent “cissplaining.” Because God forbid people here should ever, even once, close their mouths and open their ears to trans people’s voices, instead of feeling compelled to share their brilliant scientifical-like insights — none of which, of course, they think has ever occurred to trans people themselves at any time ever!

    Which, of course, it has; see this recent blog post in the Trans*Columbia blog, quoting Dean Spade’s article on this subject:

    http://transcolumbia.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/im-back-dean-spade/

    “I want to share this sweet article I found by Barnard graduate, Dean Spade. If you want to know about him, read his about page here. But what I want to talk about is his awesome writing.

    I came across About Purportedly Gendered Body Parts when surfing the queer interwebs, and I think it perfectly clarifies the way to speak about body parts in a non-essentialist ways. Let me lay some quotes on you:

    http://www.deanspade.net/2011/02/03/about-purportedly-gendered-body-parts/

    ‘Even in spaces where people have gained some basic skills around respecting pronoun preferences, suggesting an increasing desire to support gender self- determination and release certain expectations related to gender norms, I still hear language used that asserts a belief in constructions of “biological gender.”’

    True that. This language, although we wish it could be easy, requires some serious thinking. I acknowledge that calling people ‘biologically male/female’ is [a] first step, but Dean is totally right that it’s not where we need to end up, because
    ‘These “bio” terms reproduce the oppressive logic that our bodies have some purported biological gendered truth in them, separate from our social gender role.’

    To resolve this problem, he puts forth four ideas for not gendering bodies when talking about body parts:

    ’1) We can talk about uteruses, ovaries, penises, vulvas, etc. with specificity without assigning these parts a gender. Rather than saying things like “male body parts,” “female bodies” or “male bodies” we can say the thing we are probably trying to say more directly, such as “bodies with penises,” “bodies with uteruses,” “people with ovaries” and skip the assumption that those body parts correlate with a gender. Examples: “Unfortunately the anatomical drawings in this book only represent bodies with penises and testicles, but I think this picture can still help you get a sense of how the abdominal muscle is shaped.” “People with testicles may find this exercise easier with this adjustment.” “Some people may feel a sensation in the ovaries during this procedure.”
    2) The term “internal reproductive organs” can be a useful way to talk generally about ovaries, uteruses, and the like without calling them “female reproductive organs.” Example: “The doctor might think it is necessary to have some ultrasounds of the internal reproductive organs to find out more about what is causing the pain.”
    3) We can use “people who menstruate” or “people who are pregnant” or “people who produce sperm” or other terms like these rather than using “male,” “female” or “pregnant women” as a proxy for these statuses. In this way we get rid of the assumptions that all people who identify as a particular gender have the same kind of body or do the same things with their bodies, as well as the mistaken belief that if your body has/does that thing it is a particular gender. Examples: “This exercise is not recommended for people who are menstruating.” “People who are trying to become pregnant should not take this medication.” “People who produce sperm should be warned that this procedure could effect their fertility.”
    4) When we want to talk about someone and indicate that they are not trans, we can say “not trans” or “non-trans” or “cisgender” rather than “biologically male,” or “bio boy,” or “bio girl.” When we talk about someone trans we should identify them by their current gender, and if we need to refer to their assigned gender at birth we could say they were “assigned male” or “assigned female” rather than that they are “biologically male” or “biologically female.”’

    This really helped clarify my thinking on this subject. I think using thoughtful language is one of the biggest things we can do to help each other and transform our world. Keep fighting the good fight, everyone!”

    ****

    I realize that most people here will never in a million years follow these suggestions. I’ve read way too many comments here, including in this comment thread, that make it very clear that in the collective minds of the Feministe commentariat, well, the overwhelming majority of people are cis, so why should we bother changing the way we talk to take trans people into account? In other words, trans people are few in number, and their issues are irrelevant to us, so they should just deal with it, and not take everything so darned personally, and stop bringing up their silly concerns with inclusive language all the time!

    Finally, specifically as to Bagelsan’s response to my previous comment, I wouldn’t have found it particularly offensive if she’d been able to resist her impulse to add that little assholish “Sigh” at the beginning. So much arrogance, so much condescension towards those bothersome, emotional trans people, all displayed by that one little word. Then again, some people here aren’t able to resist behaving like assholes with respect to just about any subject.

  309. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 11:41 am |

    Kristen J.: Are you kidding me? Do you realize what a shit move this is? Go check derailing for dummies and then come back an apologize for being a complete asshole.

    Uhhh…what?

  310. Donna L
    Donna L October 12, 2011 at 11:43 am |

    The first sentence above should be “the ‘mansplaining’ that people like Dave engage in,” etc.

  311. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 12, 2011 at 11:46 am |

    R.Dave, your second and third paragraphs seem animated by a fundamental misunderstanding that Standpoint Theory has something to do with being “better informed” in some sort of formal education or raised consciousness sense. That’s not the theory. The theory is that it’s hard for people in one (particularly more privileged) social position to acquire the knowledge that people in another position inescapably acquire about their own day-to-day experiences. For example, thin and cisgendered and temporarily able-bodied people don’t just automatically understand why trans folks, fat folks and folks with disabilities may not want to say certain things to a doctor, but the people in those social positions usually have already acquired that information from their daily lives. The understanding I’m talking about here isn’t something one gets in women’s studies class. What the women on this thread have already acquired from life is the experience of being a woman and dealing with inlaws around the name issue; dealing with fiances about the name change, dealing with female friends who may judge or feel judged by that choice, etc. You and I can only learn about those experiences second hand and by conscious effort, while the women who are commenting here learned about those experiences involuntarily, as the product of everyday life.

  312. llama
    llama October 12, 2011 at 11:51 am |

    I predict now that this thread will hit 500.

  313. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 11:55 am |

    Understood, Thomas. My point, though, was that if someone is familiar with Standpoint Theory (and/or other social-critical theories) and consciously applies that theoretical framework to their analysis of an issue, they are better informed than the average population and thus are likely biased by their own knowledge. And as I said to Kristen, while the women commenting here have certain lived experiences that I don’t (indeed, can’t) share, other women have lived experiences that lead them to opposite conclusions, and I suspect that the differing levels of focus and knowledge related to feminist social criticism are a big part of why they’ve reached such different conclusions.

  314. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil October 12, 2011 at 11:58 am |

    Thus, while the well-informed critics continue to get really worked up about the practice, to the culture at large, the practice is unmoored from its past and is now just another one of those things people do when they get married.

    Kristin called you out for telling a group of feminists, on a feminist blog, that we’re “just getting worked up” about a topic that doesn’t matter to the rest of society because it’s “just another one of those things people do.”

    Would you go on a blog run by and for Koreans Americans and tell them they shouldn’t worry about being considered a model minority? Go tell Jews that being accused of running a global financial cartel just isn’t a big deal? Tell male victims of sexual assault that their assaults don’t matter because more women are victim of sexual assault anyway?

    Telling someone that their experiences don’t matter because you don’t think the broader issue matters is Derailing 101.

  315. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 12, 2011 at 11:59 am |

    Dave, DonnaL’s post is a good example. I’m cis. It’s not intuitive to me that referring to biological parts as “male” or “female” leaves people out who don’t fit that arrangement. It’s not intuitive because it’s not part of my life experience. To the extent I have a sense of those issues, it’s because I make a conscious effort to acquire information about it and think about it, and it’s then second-hand learning, not experiential as it is for DonnaL. So when I think “hey, I get the concern, but it’s not really that important, is it?” I need to recognize that when I have a sense that something’s not important, that may just be because it’s arm’s length to me and it matters a lot more to people more directly affected.

    Basically, when the question is, “how much does this matter to person X,” person X always has superior information.

  316. igglanova
    igglanova October 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm |

    Thank you, Jill.

  317. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm |

    FashionablyEvil: Kristin called you out for telling a group of feminists, on a feminist blog, that we’re “just getting worked up” about a topic that doesn’t matter to the rest of society because it’s “just another one of those things people do.”Would you go on a blog run by and for Koreans Americans and tell them they shouldn’t worry about being considered a model minority? Go tell Jews that being accused of running a global financial cartel just isn’t a big deal? Tell male victims of sexual assault that their assaults don’t matter because more women are victim of sexual assault anyway?Telling someone that their experiences don’t matter because you don’t think the broader issue matters is Derailing 101.

    Ah. First of all, no, actually, that’s really not what derailing means. Derailing is diverting the conversation away from the intended topic, usually in a way that isn’t organic to the flow of the conversation. I didn’t do anything close to that – the topic of the thread is spousal naming conventions, which is what I’ve been discussing the entire time; disagreeing with someone’s point or stating that you find their argument or evidence unpersuasive is not derailing.

    Also, I like the ingroup/outgroup assumptions embedded in your comment. Very revealing. A might hypocritical for a “feminist on a feminist blog” to engage in, but interesting nonetheless.

  318. anna
    anna October 12, 2011 at 12:11 pm |

    “If anyone had suggested that it was supposed to symbolize virginity, I would have thought that was the tackiest thing I’d ever heard. But apparently, that is how it is interpreted by many, although I don’t know that that was the original meaning of wearing white to marry.”

    Although wearing a white wedding dress is often seen as a symbol of virginity today (and thus many women don’t wear it because they aren’t virgins and/or because it’s unfair that they should be expected to wear something symbolizing their virginity when the groom isn’t) just for the record white wedding dresses first became popular after Queen Victoria was married in one in order to incorporate some white lace she liked. People wanted to be like the Queen, so there you have it. As for previous Queens, they probably didn’t have photos taken at their weddings.

  319. AndrewJenny
    AndrewJenny October 12, 2011 at 12:18 pm |

    I wound up changing my name when I got married in large part due to liking the idea of shedding that connection to my own family…

    I felt the same way; time to break the mold. My gf and I tried to come up with a combined name, but the vowel-to-consonant ratio was too high.

  320. chava
    chava October 12, 2011 at 12:20 pm |

    Please, just GO AWAY.

    I can’t take another mansplained thread takeover this week.

    R.Dave: Ah.First of all, no, actually, that’s really not what derailing means.Derailing is diverting the conversation away from the intended topic, usually in a way that isn’t organic to the flow of the conversation.I didn’t do anything close to that – the topic of the thread is spousal naming conventions, which is what I’ve been discussing the entire time; disagreeing with someone’s point or stating that you find their argument or evidence unpersuasive is not derailing.

    Also, I like the ingroup/outgroup assumptions embedded in your comment.Very revealing.A might hypocritical for a “feminist on a feminist blog” to engage in, but interesting nonetheless.

  321. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm |

    R.Dave: Ah.First of all, no, actually, that’s really not what derailing means.Derailing is diverting the conversation away from the intended topic, usually in a way that isn’t organic to the flow of the conversation.I didn’t do anything close to that – the topic of the thread is spousal naming conventions, which is what I’ve been discussing the entire time; disagreeing with someone’s point or stating that you find their argument or evidence unpersuasive is not derailing.

    Also, I like the ingroup/outgroup assumptions embedded in your comment.Very revealing.A might hypocritical for a “feminist on a feminist blog” to engage in, but interesting nonetheless.

    Derailingfordummies.com

    You’ll find yourself in various assholish categories there.

  322. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 12, 2011 at 12:26 pm |

    R.Dave, what you said in 325 makes no sense. If you understand that people are speaking from their life experiences, and you can’t wrap your head around why some of those folks are reaching different conclusions than others, then the best way to learn is to listen. They’ll tell you how their experiences relate to their conclusions. The fastest way to assimilate that information is to read the 324 comments that precede yours — excluding ones that are the side-conversation with you about your engagement, which actually don’t have much to do with the topic at hand. Challenging them on whether they have the right priorities is just wasting their energy and slowing your progress.

  323. Donna L
    Donna L October 12, 2011 at 12:27 pm |

    Jill:
    Ok, let’s stop with the gendering body parts. I understand that people may not have meant it to be hurtful or offensive, but it is. So I’d like to nip that conversation in the bud. Donna L just took the time to post a really good primer on gender and the body, so let’s read it, and consider that the suggestions it outlines to be the ground rules going forward. If you don’t feel like you can follow those ground rules, I would urge you to withhold your comment. And I’m sure there are people who are going to want to push back and argue, but this isn’t the thread for that, so please withhold your comments on that too. Thanks.

    Thank you very much, Jill.

  324. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 12, 2011 at 12:28 pm |

    Hey, how about a non-derailing comment that doesn’t feed the derail!

    How does ethnicity and cultural preservation intersect with marriage and naming conventions?

  325. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil October 12, 2011 at 12:28 pm |

    Ah. First of all, no, actually, that’s really not what derailing means. Derailing is diverting the conversation away from the intended topic, usually in a way that isn’t organic to the flow of the conversation.

    Luckily, there’s a handy guide that describes common derailing strategies! “Your Experience Is Not Representative Of Everyone”
    and “I Don’t Think You’re As Marginalised As You Claim” see to be quite applicable here, no?

    Also, I like the ingroup/outgroup assumptions embedded in your comment. Very revealing. A might hypocritical for a “feminist on a feminist blog” to engage in, but interesting nonetheless.

    Okay, I’ll bite. What’s hypocritical?

    Unrelated note: Veils are the wedding symbol of virginity, not white dresses.

  326. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 12:38 pm |

    Thomas, I didn’t challenge people on whether they have the right priorities; that was someone else. At one point, I made a comparison to veiling to illustrate my view that the name-change tradition, in today’s culture, doesn’t have the same overtly misogynistic symbolism it once had, but that’s about it.

    And I am able to wrap my head around why some folks are reaching different conclusions than others. In fact, I offered an explanation for it – different levels of knowledge about and emphasis on the historical origins of the traditions and feminist social critiques related thereto.

  327. Azalea
    Azalea October 12, 2011 at 12:40 pm |

    Shinobi:
    Many women I know who have changed their names have complained about what a huge pain it is.WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS THEN?I do not understand.

    Yeah that doesnt make since, if you didnt want to do, why do it?

  328. Ismone
    Ismone October 12, 2011 at 12:43 pm |

    Dave R.,

    You seem to be putting serious effort into missing the point:

    1) You ignore where I explain that my current name and lack of ring signals a divorce, which brings with it a lot of nasty assumptions specific to women,

    2) You ignore, not the symbolism of my name change, but the lack of contacts. If I change my surname or drop one of my current surnames, anyone who knew me as a child or under one of those first two surnames WON’T KNOW IT IS ME ANYMORE if I win any professional accolades. If they google me, they will only get the me with the new last name. That is an *actual cost.* Especially because a number of people who found me on facebook or other social networking sites or business networking sites only did so because I kept my (rare) birthname instead of switching entirely over to a new name. Plus my birthname is useful because it connects me to my rather large immediate family, and makes their contacts my own. Since I do not look like them, no one is going to figure it out without the name.

    These are not minor concerns. These are major concerns in a career field like mine where name is everything.

  329. Katya
    Katya October 12, 2011 at 12:50 pm |

    Laurie:
    Regarding other wedding traditions, broached by some guy upthread:

    – I love his assumption that all or most women love getting a big ol’ engagement ring.In fact, this is a tradition rejected by many feminists.In my case, my husband never even broached getting me a ring because we had no money, or at least we had no desire to spend what money we had on jewelry.This was a huge relief to me because wearing an engagement ring would make extremely uncomfortable, given the sexist implications.

    I do have a work colleague who declared herself anti-engagement ring.However, when she became engaged, she wound up with a huge rock on her finger.Apparently, her fiance and his family had gone to an enormous amount of trouble to clean and reset some family heirloom diamond.It would have been difficult to say no without alienating her new in-laws.On the surface, they were being “nice” but in reality, they were sort of being assholes because they inflicted this thing on her that she is now obligated to wear for the rest of her life without, you know, consulting her.

    –It never occurred to me to have anyone walk me down the aisle or “give me away.”I’ve been to lots of weddings, usually Jewish, in which both bride and groom are walked down the aisle by their parents.That said, a lot of women who otherwise dislike this tradition naturally are reluctant to deprive their fathers of what is, to the fathers, the ultimate sentimental father-daughter moment.

    – I did wear white at the wedding.It never occurred to me at the time that there was anything sexist about it.I had always grown up with the notion that white dresses are the symbol of a fresh start.The girls wore white dresses at my high school graduation and at my college graduation.If anyone had suggested that it was supposed to symbolize virginity, I would have thought that was the tackiest thing I’d ever heard.But apparently, that is how it is interpreted by many, although I don’t know that that was the original meaning of wearing white to marry.

    It wasn’t always the norm to wear white. Most women just wore their nicest dress; only wealthy women could have dresses made special for a wedding, and even then, those were a variety of colors. The white wedding thing took off when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert and wore white; brides started to imitate her.

  330. mary
    mary October 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm |

    R.Dave: And I am able to wrap my head around why some folks are reaching different conclusions than others. In fact, I offered an explanation for it – different levels of knowledge about and emphasis on the historical origins of the traditions and feminist social critiques related thereto.

    And some people are telling you that this is wrong, because there is direct real-world social shaming directed at women who do not change their surname. Many commenters here have personally experienced this. For you to make it a knowledge issue is dismissive of people’s lived experiences, which is probably why you have received a lot of dismissiveness in return.

  331. Rachel
    Rachel October 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm |

    I had this argument with my ex. He wanted me to change my name and I made it clear that I wouldn’t. I wanted us to merge last names and he WOULD NOT take my last name. Finally he said you can keep your last name but we’d name the kids after my name. So I have a question for those of you (women) who kept your last name, what last name did you give your kids? Did you combine them?

  332. chingona
    chingona October 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm |

    Thomas MacAulay Millar: How does ethnicity and cultural preservation intersect with marriage and naming conventions?

    I think this is an interesting question. I’m pretty sure that I would have kept my name no matter what. However, I hadn’t put much thought into it because I wasn’t planning on getting married, until I did. I do think the fact that I have an unusual and ethnic last name and that I identify with that ethnicity and that my husband had an extremely common last name contributed to my decision.

    Interestingly, if my mother had kept her last name and then given me her name, my last name would be neither so unusual nor so ethnic.

    My husband had no problem with me keeping my name, but I sensed that he would have been hurt if our kids didn’t have his name. He would have been fine with hyphenating, but not with his kids not having his name at all. I didn’t want to hyphenate because aesthetically I just don’t care for it, but now that it’s all said and done, I wish they had my name in there somewhere. I thought I didn’t care – I carried them for 9 months and gave birth to them, so it’s not like I don’t know they’re my kids – but I’m realizing that I kind of do.

    I like the Spanish naming custom of the kids having both parents’ last names – paternal first, maternal second – but it maps poorly onto U.S. government forms.

  333. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 12, 2011 at 1:04 pm |

    R.Dave, I’ve concluded that you’re too smart to be dismissed as accidentally dense, and I therefore conclude that you’re simply maneuvering to avoid reaching any conclusion that involves you shutting up and listening. I’m done engaging with you.

  334. Off White
    Off White October 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm |

    Having been married for over 23 years now, I haven’t given it much thought lately. It does always strike me funny when someone remarks, while filling out some form or somesuch, “oh, you don’t have the same last name.” As I have various friends who’ve done the traditional name change, not changed names at all, he’s taken hers, or they’ve both used something new, I’ve sort of forgotten about expectation and just always assume its a question and anything’s possible. Granted, as a guy, there’s a lot less social baggage for me to carry on the issue and its much easier to be oblivious.

    In my own case, her last name is rather rare and strking, whereas her first name combined with my last would be both dull and have some funny connotations. If I’d taken her’s my long standing nickname Off (yes, real world, not internet) would lose the PUNch it provides when combined with my last. In so many ways, no change at all was the way to go. Lazy probably figures in there too somewhere.

    Names for the children is an interesting related issue. I know folks where the son gets the dad’s name and the daughter gets the mother’s.

  335. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 1:08 pm |

    Ismone, I agree; those are major concerns, and, for those very reasons, I don’t think you should change your name. Like I said earlier, though, those are practical problems resulting from any name change. And if there was a no-change tradition instead, there would be other problems associated with that approach. For example, how would you know two people are married or that they’re related to their kids? How do you handle naming conventions for kids? If someone gets married, then divorced, and married to someone else, how would you know any of that in order to avoid committing a social faux pas or, far worse, revealing information to a stalker ex-spouse? In short, there are practical problems with any naming convention.

    None of that goes to the issue of misogyny, though, which is what I’ve been getting at. Does the expectation that a woman will take her husband’s name impose greater practical problems on women than on men? Yes. Does it imply, in our contemporary culture, that women are subordinate to their husbands; that they are surrendering their former identities; that they are less serious about their careers; etc.? I don’t think it does for most people (with the caveat on the last point that I intend to read up on the studies Thomas linked). So, what we’re left with is a tradition that most people today engage in without really thinking about the history or intending any negative implications about the worth or identity of women, but that does impose additional burdens on women. Does that qualify as misogyny? I don’t really think it does.

  336. Kaz
    Kaz October 12, 2011 at 1:09 pm |

    Thanks, Jill!

    How does ethnicity and cultural preservation intersect with marriage and naming conventions?

    This is a really interesting question and I hope more people tackle it! From my own (still quite privileged) viewpoint, I noticed that the idea of ever changing my surname became much more out of the question to me when I moved outside of my home country. Back home, I didn’t like the idea but I wasn’t totally against because there my surname is a surname among many – pretty common, kind of boring, has some regional connotations but they’re very vague. Now I live in a foreign country where both parts of my name are markers of ethnicity, I feel much more attached to them, and you will have to pry my name from my cold dead hands. (This also means that I’m extremely lucky in that although I’m nonbinary I’m fine with my gendered-female first name; if I wanted to change my first name I’d definitely want a German name and German has very little in the way of gender-neutral names, and that’s not even getting into the legalities of name-changing and allowable names in Germany that would make it a nightmare.)

    On a not me-me-me front, I’d be very curious to know how people from cultures who don’t do the name-changing thing (I know Spanish-speakers have been mentioned), people from cultures with a different surname pattern or even no surname at all, and other people with different angles on the name thing think of this topic.

  337. Brian
    Brian October 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm |

    With all due respect, that’s a load of crap. Throughout the history of western culture, children have received the father’s surname, and women have been responsible for all, or nearly all, the childcare. The idea that some kiddos should carry on their mother’s name isn’t going to do jackshit to affect childcare arrangements. Women managed to carry on feeling important and emotionally attached to their children throughout centuries of those children having the father’s last name. If men cannot, that says far more about men than it does about naming conventions.

    The factual assertions here aren’t true, so the conclusions don’t follow. While mothers’ did most of the labour associated with children historically (and still do), they didn’t have most (really any) of the authority over the children. Divorce courts gave children to men, TV fathers disciplined children, whatnot – you can choose whatever examples you like. This flips between the 50s and the 70s (to be a North American Anglo Urbanite Whatever – context varies, obviously). And those children had both parents’ name anyways (since it was the same).

    Beyond which, parenting isn’t otherwise gender symmetric. All the current pop culture forces enforce and re-enforce that children have only one parent – their mother. Which is something that should be pushed back against on all fronts (even if the biology means the situation can never be identical, it doesn’t mean it can’t ever be equal.)

  338. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm |

    Thomas MacAulay Millar: R.Dave, I’ve concluded that you’re too smart to be dismissed as accidentally dense, and I therefore conclude that you’re simply maneuvering to avoid reaching any conclusion that involves you shutting up and listening. I’m done engaging with you.

    That’s a shame, Thomas. I found your comments helpful and thought-provoking. You’re correct, though, that I don’t agree with the “shut up and listen” approach so often advocated in feminist spaces. Speaking and listening are not mutually exclusive; and debate is often a very effective method of learning.

  339. zuzu
    zuzu October 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm |

    Dave, darling, if this is an issue with no consequence, a purely symbolic thing, why did Kris Humphries get so worked up about it?

  340. zuzu
    zuzu October 12, 2011 at 1:24 pm |

    Brian: The factual assertions here aren’t true, so the conclusions don’t follow. While mothers’ did most of the labour associated with children historically (and still do), they didn’t have most (really any) of the authority over the children. Divorce courts gave children to men, TV fathers disciplined children, whatnot – you can choose whatever examples you like. This flips between the 50s and the 70s (to be a North American Anglo Urbanite Whatever – context varies, obviously). And those children had both parents’ name anyways (since it was the same).

    And this is an argument against defaulting to the mother’s name, how, exactly?

  341. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm |

    Zuzu, my love, I don’t know him, so I have no idea what his personal motivations are. I’d not be surprised if he’s a raging misogynist, but I base that on nothing more than the fact he looks like an asshat in his publicity shots. Of course, it could also just be another made-for-tv drama concocted by their media team. In any event, I did offer a number of alternative (non-misogynistic) explanations upthread for why someone generally might get upset.

  342. shfree
    shfree October 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm |

    One thing that I did appreciate is that when my brother got married, not only did my sister-in-law hyphenate, so did my brother, and all of my nephews have hyphenated names. There was none of that only the woman in the marriage hyphenates and everyone else has the lone man’s name. I would imagine there was some pushback about what those kids would do should they get married, what with the hyphen, but that decision is theirs, the same as my brother’s and my sister-in-law’s.

    With my sister’s first marriage, I know that my grandparents had a bit of a hissyfit that she wasn’t taking her husband’s name. (he wouldn’t hyphenate and she thought it was a stupid name on its own) I think she kept her own name with her second, but has a problem with the hospital sending insurance stuff to Mrs. Hislastname. I think she has pretty much gave up that battle, and her daughter has Herlastname as her middle name. And as my daughter was born out of wedlock (Scandalous! Shameful!) who the hell knows what the thought of me giving her a completely different last name.

    All that said, I try to keep track of the names of my maternal line, and that is what we lose when we take on a paternal name. That’s why her dad and I gave our daughter her own name, because there is no true maternal name. We can keep digging back and back, but each daughter’s name, each mother’s name, is the one that came from her father, after her parents married. So if she chooses to have a child and gives her the same last name, it will be her own.

  343. EG
    EG October 12, 2011 at 1:50 pm |

    The factual assertions here aren’t true, so the conclusions don’t follow. While mothers’ did most of the labour associated with children historically (and still do), they didn’t have most (really any) of the authority over the children.

    They are, in fact, true. The only time a kid got the mother’s name is if the mother was unwed. Mothers and other women did all the labor–what does authority have to do with it? If anything, giving the kid the father’s name rather than the mother’s reinforces patriarchal authority.

    Does that qualify as misogyny? I don’t really think it does.

    Oh, you ladies think that’s misogyny? That’s not misogyny. Nothing to get your pretty little head worked up over.

    Thanks for clearing that up, R. Dave. Feminists everywhere find the male perspective on our experiences invaluable.

    And thanks for the explanation, DonnaL (that one’s genuine and sincere, not to be confused with the one directed at R. Dave, which is neither).

  344. petpluto
    petpluto October 12, 2011 at 1:51 pm |

    R.Dave: Zuzu, my love, I don’t know him, so I have no idea what his personal motivations are. I’d not be surprised if he’s a raging misogynist, but I base that on nothing more than the fact he looks like an asshat in his publicity shots. Of course, it could also just be another made-for-tv drama concocted by their media team. In any event, I did offer a number of alternative (non-misogynistic) explanations upthread for why someone generally might get upset.

    Actually, I don’t think your explanations of why it isn’t sexist really separated the sexist chaff from the wheat of tradition. You buoyed those explanations on the idea of tradition, and, without explaining how, you just kept asserting that these traditions are free from their sexist roots because, well, they are.

    I don’t think they are. A lot of commenters here don’t think they are. You have not made a great case for why they are. You don’t think women are subordinate to men and because you think that the name change can’t be sexist? If that’s true, why are men offended when women don’t want to change their names? Why are women harranged by people they aren’t marrying for not wanting to change their names? If that’s true, why aren’t men lining up to change their names as well?

    If there is no greater meaning in changing one’s name than the impotent tradition that symbolizes love and commitment, these issues would not be so fraught when someone chooses to not go along with them. The very fact that women get grief for not changing their names means that the traditions aren’t impotent. Then there’s the fact that men still want sons to “carry on the family name”. Even the men I know who are gender conscious and who have conceded that their (someday) wives shouldn’t have to change their last names still insist that their progeny need to get their last name. Because their last name is better? No. Because there’s the assumption that they “need” to carry on the family name, and whether or not the wife’s name lives on is ignored.

    There’s something happening here beyond what you’re willing to grant; and if you’re going to argue otherwise, I’d suggest you come up with better explanations than the ones you’ve provided.

  345. EG
    EG October 12, 2011 at 1:52 pm |

    By the way, since giving up our surnames has been one of the ways women have been erased from history, it is indeed reinforcing a misogynist attitude: women just don’t matter. It doesn’t matter whether or not you can trace a woman’s life or her ancestors, because chicks, who gives a shit?

  346. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm |

    EG: Thanks for clearing that up, R. Dave. Feminists everywhere find the male perspective on our experiences invaluable.

    Again with the ingroup/outgroup assumptions. You really might want to check those at some point.

  347. Computer Soldier Porygon
    Computer Soldier Porygon October 12, 2011 at 2:14 pm |

    R.DaveFor example, how would you know two people are married or that they’re related to their kids?

    Because they tell you? Who cares?

  348. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm |

    petpluto: Actually, I don’t think your explanations of why it isn’t sexist really separated the sexist chaff from the wheat of tradition. You buoyed those explanations on the idea of tradition, and, without explaining how, you just kept asserting that these traditions are free from their sexist roots because, well, they are.I don’t think they are. A lot of commenters here don’t think they are. You have not made a great case for why they are.

    Fair enough; I concede I have nothing to back up my view beyond a facially plausible alternative hypothesis, personal experience, and anecdotal observation. The thing is, other than that one study linked by Thomas, I haven’t seen anything beyond those things from other folks here either.

    So, I’m not sure where to go from there, except perhaps a wishy-washy middle ground of me accepting that maybe there’s more unspoken misogyny lingering in the background of the name-change thing than I generally realize, and y’all coming away with the idea that maybe your greater-than-average knowledge and focus on these issues makes the sexist baggage of the tradition more salient for you than for most people these days. *shrug*

  349. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers October 12, 2011 at 2:47 pm |

    I married a man who already had two kids. Keeping my own name was never in question; I’m a feminist *and* a data analyst who knows what havoc name-changing plays on a person’s data trail *and* a writer *and* I strongly identify with my entire name, to the point where I use it on the internet. But I felt like I needed to give the children I bore the same last name as their older siblings, which was their father’s last name, because I wanted to make the older sibs feel like there was no question that we are all the same family, and I think that my husband’s name is objectively cooler than mine… which was not a reason for me to take it, because seriously, you don’t give up your identity because someone else has a cooler identity, but it was a reason for me to establish it as the identity of people who didn’t yet have one.

    But then years later the insurance company sent me cards that mistakenly gave everyone my last name… and I looked at those cards that said Mylittleson Rogers and Mylittledaughter Rogers, and I wanted to cry, I wished so badly that that had been the name I’d given them in the first place.

    I think I did right by my kids. Their last name is much more unique than Rogers, and is much closer to the start of the alphabet, and both of those things are helpful to people’s careers. But they’re *mine*. They’re my genetic line, unlike the older two, and I bore them out of my body and destroyed my body as a result, and I’ve been their primary caretaker their whole lives… it’s a selfish desire, I think, because like I said I was looking out for their integration with their siblings and how memorable their names would be when I decided to give them their dad’s name, but… I wish I wish I could have given them mine.

  350. Brian
    Brian October 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm |

    And this is an argument against defaulting to the mother’s name, how, exactly?

    Because parenting shouldn’t be solely a woman’s responsibility.

    Which is an ethical judgment, so you can disagree, though this seems like a weird place to do it.

  351. EG
    EG October 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm |

    R.Dave: Again with the ingroup/outgroup assumptions.You really might want to check those at some point.

    The assumption that someone using the name “Dave” is a man? I think that’s a completely reasonable assumption, and I’m not the only one who’s made it. If it’s incorrect, by all means let me know, but no, I’m not going to “check” my assumption that by and large, people who go by masculine names are men.

    For example, how would you know two people are married or that they’re related to their kids?

    If you’re not already on friendly enough terms for it to have come up in conversation, what business is it of yours?

    Because parenting shouldn’t be solely a woman’s responsibility.

    Uh-huh. And what does that have to do with whether or not her kids have her last name?

  352. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 4:35 pm |

    EG: The assumption that someone using the name “Dave” is a man?

    No, EG, the assumption that someone expressing a “male perspective” is speaking to feminists not as a feminist. In short, the assumption that feminists aren’t male.

  353. shfree
    shfree October 12, 2011 at 4:40 pm |

    R.Dave:
    For example, how would you know two people are married or that they’re related to their kids?

    “I’m shfree Mylastname. This is my daughter Herslastname. Her dad is Dad Hislastname” Done, done and done. And you know what? My daughter certainly understands that she’s our child, and hasn’t once felt like she isn’t part of a family, because she grew up with having her own last name. And really, she is the one whose feelings we are most concerned about, not the people who live down the street. They can go fuck themselves if they were confused or clutching their pearls over the fact that when my ex and I were together, there were three last names on the mailbox. Love makes a family, not a last name.

  354. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 4:43 pm |

    I agree, shfree. However, my comment about informational problems associated with a no-change naming convention was purely a counterpoint to other commenters’ arguments that such problems exist for the current name-change convention. The two sets of problems are simply mirror images of one another.

  355. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar October 12, 2011 at 4:47 pm |

    R.Dave, I think we’re all assuming you don’t identify as a feminist because of what you’ve said, and how you said it. If you do identify as a feminist, STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND GO READ DERAILING FOR DUMMIES BECAUSE YR DOIN IT RONG.

  356. zuzu
    zuzu October 12, 2011 at 4:51 pm |

    R.Dave: No, EG, the assumption that someone expressing a “male perspective” is speaking to feminists not as a feminist. In short, the assumption that feminists aren’t male.

    No one is assuming that because you are male, you are not feminist. They are concluding, based on the evidence you present with every pixel, that you’re not a feminist.

    The mansplaining is just lagniappe.

  357. petpluto
    petpluto October 12, 2011 at 4:52 pm |

    R.Dave:
    I agree, shfree.However, my comment about informational problems associated with a no-change naming convention was purely a counterpoint to other commenters’ arguments that such problems exist for the current name-change convention.The two sets of problems are simply mirror images of one another.

    Are they? The problems women have with changing their names range from the pain of doing paperwork men do not have to do, to feeling as if they’re losing a piece of their identity, to being severed from work contacts, to being almost impossible to find on social media sites, to having problems with being recognized for work done under their birth name.

    Problems for everyone keeping their own names, if that was the standard, would be what? shfree doesn’t seem to have any problems. If that became standard, the only thing people would have to do is pay attention to who has what name. Which isn’t nearly as big an issue.

  358. Tamara
    Tamara October 12, 2011 at 4:59 pm |

    I live in New Zealand where marriage is pretty popular but so is living as de factos. Lots of children are born to de factos and there is no stigma to that in mainstream culture. My partner and I are not married so obviously have separate surnames. Even if I got married I would keep my name. He gets to keep his.

    As for ethnicity, I am Jewish and we are the only family in NZ with this surname. The preservation of my history is important to me, even if the religion is not.

    We gave our children the hyphenated option. I kind of hope they will keep their own names when they grow up but as for if they have their own children what to name them? They can figure that out themselves! Not my problem!

    I know many women who kept their surnames on marriage but gave the children their fathers’ surnames. I’ve never got to the point of asking why, it seems indelicate.

    Final comment, as for the veil: There are lots of stories about its provenance and they all seem equally creepy to me.

  359. EG
    EG October 12, 2011 at 5:03 pm |

    No one is assuming that because you are male, you are not feminist. They are concluding, based on the evidence you present with every pixel, that you’re not a feminist.

    What she said. I’ve met many male feminists. You, alas, are not among them.

  360. chava
    chava October 12, 2011 at 5:07 pm |

    Figure the fuck out what “ally” means, and what its potential pitfalls are, mmmkay?

    R.Dave: No, EG, the assumption that someone expressing a “male perspective” is speaking to feminists not as a feminist.In short, the assumption that feminists aren’t male.

  361. Off White
    Off White October 12, 2011 at 5:09 pm |

    Tamara:
    I live in New Zealand where marriage is pretty popular but so is living as de factos…

    Is that the common idiom in NZ? I love it, I’m adopting the term immediately.

  362. Shoshie
    Shoshie October 12, 2011 at 5:11 pm |

    R.Dave: No, EG, the assumption that someone expressing a “male perspective” is speaking to feminists not as a feminist. In short, the assumption that feminists aren’t male.

    Joining the chorus of people who aren’t assuming that men can’t be feminists. We’re making the astonishing leap that anti-feminist rhetoric is coming from a non-feminist. Holy crap, how do we do it?!

  363. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 5:11 pm |

    Thomas MacAulay Millar: R.Dave, I think we’re all assuming you don’t identify as a feminist because of what you’ve said, and how you said it. If you do identify as a feminist, STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND GO READ DERAILING FOR DUMMIES BECAUSE YR DOIN IT RONG.

    I followed the link to that site. *shrug* It’s pretty clearly a site set up by someone in an attempt to redefine the term “derailing” for feminist discussions in a way that allows common points of contention to be labeled “derailing.” It’s simply not what derailing means in general usage, and the fact that someone reserved that domain name doesn’t change anything.

  364. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 5:17 pm |

    zuzu: No one is assuming that because you are male, you are not feminist. They are concluding, based on the evidence you present with every pixel, that you’re not a feminist.

    Except that’s not what EG said. She said:

    EG: Oh, you ladies think that’s misogyny? That’s not misogyny. Nothing to get your pretty little head worked up over.Thanks for clearing that up, R. Dave. Feminists everywhere find the male perspective on our experiences invaluable.

    She specifically depicted the audience as female and feminist and the speaker, in contrast, as voicing a male perspective. “Feminist” and “male perspective” were set in counterpoint. Maybe that’s not what she really thinks, but if so, then her words were certainly ill-chosen.

  365. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 5:26 pm |

    Incidentally, this side-discussion of derailing, mansplaining, who is and isn’t a feminist, etc. actually does qualify as a true derail. However, I’m not the one who drove us in that direction. Indeed, I tried to ignore the insults and othering as long as possible.

  366. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 12, 2011 at 5:27 pm |

    R.Dave: I followed the link to that site.*shrug*It’s pretty clearly a site set up by someone in an attempt to redefine the term “derailing” for feminist discussions in a way that allows common points of contention to be labeled “derailing.”It’s simply not what derailing means in general usage, and the fact that someone reserved that domain name doesn’t change anything.

    Its pretty clear you didn’t read it. Since if you had you would realize it was initially created to address racism in the progressive blogosphere. But nice try deflecting criticism by pretending your definitions are superior to ours. Asshat.

  367. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 5:35 pm |

    Kristen – From the header of the site: “Just some of the many issues you can apply it to: sexism, whorephobia, racism, transphobia, classism, homophobia, ableism, classphobia, fatphobia”. So, one mention of racism specifically (which is not mutually exclusive with feminist discussions) and the rest are topics widely addressed in feminist spaces. And I’ve been reading and participating in such spaces long enough to recognize basically all of the linked subpages as common points of contention in feminist discussions.

  368. EG
    EG October 12, 2011 at 5:36 pm |

    R.Dave:
    Incidentally, this side-discussion of derailing, mansplaining, who is and isn’t a feminist, etc. actually does qualify as a true derail.However, I’m not the one who drove us in that direction.Indeed, I tried to ignore the insults and othering as long as possible.

    You are a saint, verily.

    “You silly women! You don’t know what derailing is, what is truly important when it comes to feminism, or when some dude is mansplaining! Wait–whaddaya mean you don’t think I’m a feminist?”

  369. chava
    chava October 12, 2011 at 5:37 pm |

    Othering??? This word, it does not mean what you think it means. Or to be more accurate, your use of it is completely and utterly inappropriate.

    Men can be feminist allies. You’re clearly not one.

    R.Dave:
    Incidentally, this side-discussion of derailing, mansplaining, who is and isn’t a feminist, etc. actually does qualify as a true derail.However, I’m not the one who drove us in that direction.Indeed, I tried to ignore the insults and othering as long as possible.

  370. chava
    chava October 12, 2011 at 5:40 pm |

    For the record, I have had people freak out at me at the post office and at banks for not changing my name. Not, you know, a lot, but it has happened.

    My in-laws all assume I will do what my mother in law did and wait to subsume my identity until I have baaaaabies, because I will want to have the same name they do. Which didn’t stop the very first thing said to me after our wedding ceremony being: “How does it feel to be Mrs. Chava HisLastName?”

  371. rae
    rae October 12, 2011 at 5:43 pm |

    Oh my god, R.Dave, why is it so hard for you to understand that a practice which damages career and friendship networking possibilities and is expected only of women is misogynist? Even if you think women’s identity, symbolic linguistic position, history and lineage are unimportant, how can you possibly argue that a marriage practice which directly inhibits women’s careers is totally neutral and unproblematic? The mind boggles.

    I am currently unmarried, although me and my boyfriend’s cat has a hyphenated last name (y’all! I encourage this, get the naming argument out of the way with your cat! low-stakes and also you get to have a cat! except actually there was no argument, we just sort of were like hmm does mylastname-hislastname or hislastname-mylastname sound aesthetically better?). I’m keeping my last name; the only change I would consider is if we both hyphenated, but that’s unlikely for education and career related reasons. Hypothetical kiddos are getting hyphenated, and they can figure out what they want to do with their names if they ever marry. I’m not worried about this because any kids of mine will surely be smart and resourceful enough to come up with a solution they like! ;-)

  372. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 12, 2011 at 5:49 pm |

    R.Dave:
    Kristen –From the header of the site:“Just some of the many issues you can apply it to:sexism, whorephobia, racism, transphobia, classism, homophobia, ableism, classphobia, fatphobia”.So, one mention of racism specifically (which is not mutually exclusive with feminist discussions) and the rest are topics widely addressed in feminist spaces.And I’ve been reading and participating in such spaces long enough to recognize basically all of the linked subpages as common points of contention in feminist discussions.

    Oy. Yes, you are clearly the expert on EVERYTHING. Have you tried the “about” page? Or are we next going to hear about how just because this was drafted in response to something doesn’t mean that its about that…

  373. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 5:51 pm |

    Out of curiosity, Kristen, what relevance does the original intent of the derailingfordummies site have to the question of whether or not it accurately reflects the general definition of the term “derailing”?

  374. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm |

    R.Dave:
    Out of curiosity, Kristen, what relevance does the original intent of the derailingfordummies site have to the question of whether or not it accurately reflects the general definition of the term “derailing”?

    Because its original purpose and subsequent acceptance by the progressive blogosphere means that that is the working definition in this and other spaces regardless of whether it is *your* definition.

  375. zuzu
    zuzu October 12, 2011 at 6:05 pm |

    R.Dave: She specifically depicted the audience as female and feminist and the speaker, in contrast, as voicing a male perspective. “Feminist” and “male perspective” were set in counterpoint. Maybe that’s not what she really thinks, but if so, then her words were certainly ill-chosen.

    She was mocking you, Dave.

  376. zuzu
    zuzu October 12, 2011 at 6:07 pm |

    R.Dave:
    Incidentally, this side-discussion of derailing, mansplaining, who is and isn’t a feminist, etc. actually does qualify as a true derail.However, I’m not the one who drove us in that direction.Indeed, I tried to ignore the insults and othering as long as possible.

    Pobrecito.

  377. igglanova
    igglanova October 12, 2011 at 6:09 pm |

    ‘However, I’m not the one who drove us in that direction.’

    Oh, sure you are.

  378. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 6:10 pm |

    And do you have any evidence that it has been accepted as the “working definition” in the progressive blogosphere? Because, like I said, I’ve been reading and commenting in progressive blogs for quite a while, and I’ve never noticed any such consensus.

    Also, the definition I noted is not mine; it’s the definition in general use for Net discussions. Here’s my evidence (see, the linking thing works both ways):

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=derailing%20a%20thread

    Do you seriously think “the act of throwing a thread in a discussion forum off topic, oftentimes so much so that the original discussion is unable to continue” isn’t the general-use definition of the term?

  379. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 6:12 pm |

    zuzu: She was mocking you, Dave.

    Yes, and while focused on doing so, seemingly let some sexist biases of her own slip through.

  380. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 6:15 pm |

    zuzu: Pobrecito.

    In case you’re wondering, snide remarks that make no substantive point are just as self-defeating in spanish as they are in english.

  381. xenu01
    xenu01 October 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm |

    Computer Soldier Porygon: Awwww.I love it.I’ve been thinking I’d like to do this if I ever decide to marry and have a ceremony (I think this is unlikely but ehhhhhhh, maybe).

    Anyway, I honestly can’t even deal with the idea changing my name.Shit gives me hives.I don’t know that I like having my identity so bound up in my name, seems like nonsense when I really think about it, but I’m deeply attached to the thing anyway.

    Thank you! :) We made the decision to get married together, like all the other decisions in our life, and we wanted to reflect that in the ceremony. And strangely, even the people that I know who might grumble about “feminazis” or “tradition” came up to me after the ceremony and said, “hey, that was nice!”

    So you can ignore the naysayers. I promise!

  382. DanaR
    DanaR October 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm |

    Off White 10.12.2011 at 5:09 pm
    Is that the common idiom in NZ? I love it, I’m adopting the term immediately.

    It’s the legal term in NZ. We have de facto partnerships, which is basically a couple that has been living together for 3 years or more, civil unions and sadly still marriage that is hetero-specific.

    While I wish/hope that marriage as a legal concept can be phased out, effectively couples of any gender configuration are pretty OK over here, which is nice.

    Also means I can refute my partner’s [Catholic] mother’s “joking” claims that our non-marriage doesn’t count quite easily without having to elaborate as to how stupid I think her beliefs are. :P

  383. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 12, 2011 at 6:28 pm |

    R.Dave:
    And do you have any evidence that it has been accepted as the “working definition” in the progressive blogosphere?Because, like I said, I’ve been reading and commenting in progressive blogs for quite a while, and I’ve never noticed any such consensus.

    Also, the definition I noted is not mine; it’s the definition in general use for Net discussions.Here’s my evidence (see, the linking thing works both ways):

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=derailing%20a%20thread

    Do you seriously think “the act of throwing a thread in a discussion forum off topic, oftentimes so much so that the original discussion is unable to continue” isn’t the general-use definition of the term?

    R.Dave:
    And do you have any evidence that it has been accepted as the “working definition” in the progressive blogosphere?Because, like I said, I’ve been reading and commenting in progressive blogs for quite a while, and I’ve never noticed any such consensus.

    Also, the definition I noted is not mine; it’s the definition in general use for Net discussions.Here’s my evidence (see, the linking thing works both ways):

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=derailing%20a%20thread

    Do you seriously think “the act of throwing a thread in a discussion forum off topic, oftentimes so much so that the original discussion is unable to continue” isn’t the general-use definition of the term?

    I cannot believe you are still arguing this point. Check back citations for derailing for dummies circa 2009. Yeah, generally accepted definition. You don’t run into it often because typically only assholes engage in the behavior described and often they are modded out. Each of those behaviors is turning the discussion away from the original conversation. Conversation: difficulties women experience re: changing their name. Derailment: justify your assumption that women experience oppression.

    You have consistently ignored people’s experiences, people who have direct knowledge rather than just anecdotes from others. You have disregarded studies confirming those experiences. All as part of an effort to argue that there is no misogyny here. That question is not the original topic of this post.

    If marginalized people of any variety have every goddamn conversation turn into “justify your belief that you experience oppression” that is fucking derailing under any definition.

  384. DanaR
    DanaR October 12, 2011 at 6:30 pm |

    For anyone who’s interested… it’s not ideal but it’s a lot better than most places I’ve gathered! :/

    Marriage in NZ”
    Civil Unions
    De Facto Relationships

    I hope this works. :P

  385. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl October 12, 2011 at 6:53 pm |

    Mr. Dave can figure out if someone is a misogynist by looking at their publicity shots!

    I’m sold.

  386. DouglasG
    DouglasG October 12, 2011 at 7:01 pm |

    Ms Rogers @362 – A poignant post, but has it really become so bad that having a surname close to the beginning of the alphabet helps people in their careers (and doubtless people act on that assumption)? What a world – I really need to start carrying a cyanide pill.

  387. Tamara
    Tamara October 12, 2011 at 7:06 pm |

    Thanks DanaR. Your first link doesn’t work though.

    There are still situations where de factos don’t have equivalent status to married couples and/or civil unionised couples. In the main though we’re treated pretty well.

    Chaning your name for whatever reason is pretty easy in New Zealand. There is a fee though (which only gets waived in case of change on name on marriage, by either spouse).

  388. Tamara
    Tamara October 12, 2011 at 7:08 pm |

    Oh, and “ideal” would be extending marriage to same-sex couples. We’ll get there eventually though.

  389. JenniferNotJenny
    JenniferNotJenny October 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm |

    The “woman taking her husbands last name” issue has always been a source of frustration and confusion for me.

    I am shocked to find out how much people opposed to a woman doing anything but taking her husband’s last name. That and how women take their husband’s name with so little thought.

    I was having a conversation with my coworker and he mentioned that he has 4 kids, with his youngest being his only son. He said that he’s relieved that he has a son because he’s an only son and his father was an only son, so the last name will continue. His last name is the not too uncommon name of “Nelsen”. I told him I wouldn’t change my name to a common last name, and he said that would be a dealbreaker for him. Why, exactly? The Nelsen last name isn’t going to die out anytime soon!

    I’m confused by why women who have a unique last name and a not-hateful relationship with their parents would change it to something common. I had a teacher in high school named Mrs. Smith who told us her maiden name one day. It was cool sounding and I wondered why oh why would she change ever change it to Smith. To be fair, I understand that some people would prefer to blend in, but still.

    I also have a friend who has a very unique last name. Thanks to Nazi’s killing most of her ancestors during WWII, everyone currently with the last name is related to her and she mentioned more than once how small her dad’s side of the family was. Her response during a separate conversation if she would change her name upon marriage: “Probably. Yeah.”

    I’ve met/heard of women who changed their last name to something just plain stupid. Women who marry guys whose last name is the same as their first name and they still change it. Women whose new names go badly with their first names. It’s juvenile, yes, but would you name your kid Harriet if your last name was Dick?

    With all of that being said, I am ashamed to admit that I will probably change my last name to that of my current boyfriend’s should we ever get married. Like Tom Riddle, I’m not to fond of my common name (heck, I’ve been trying to pick a good name to replace “Jennifer” for the past 2 years), and he has a really cool last name. BUT I told him initally I wanted to keep my name, if just on principal it was no easy discussion to have with him because he really wants me to take his name (like 99% of guys out there). Eventually we compromised that I take his last name, and I get the final say on what to name our kids. First and middle names. That’s a big deal for him because traditionally for his family the kid’s middle names is the father’s first name (more patriarchy, yay!). I’m going to teach any daughters I may have to be proud of their last names and to not cave to patriarchial practices. I just hope I can do so without sounding like a hypocrite.

  390. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil October 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm |

    A poignant post, but has it really become so bad that having a surname close to the beginning of the alphabet helps people in their careers

    I mean, anytime you do something in ABC order, people with last names at the beginning of the alphabet get to go first. I have joked that one of the reasons I don’t want to change my name is that I’d go from being a B to an S. Who wants to sit around and wait that long?

  391. EG
    EG October 12, 2011 at 8:05 pm |

    Yes, and while focused on doing so, seemingly let some sexist biases of her own slip through.

    Aw. Poor baby.

    You see, ladies, social pressure to change your name at marriage is not at all misogynist, but just a bee-yew-tee-ful tradition signifying love and commitment. On the other hand, noting that readers of feminist blogs frequently have to deal with arrogant men who are absolutely convinced of their superior understanding of feminism and women’s experiences is totally sexist. I am sexist against men! Won’t somebody help the men!

    snide remarks that make no substantive point are just as self-defeating in spanish as they are in english.

    You mistake Zuzu’s purpose. Mocking you is fun.

  392. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 12, 2011 at 8:09 pm |

    Clueless mansplainer is clueless.

  393. anyc
    anyc October 12, 2011 at 8:16 pm |

    llama:
    So what about the man who marries a woman who has been married before and has changed her name once? What should he expect?

    Now don’t start with the“they makeup such a small percentage of the population” noises because lots of people have second marriages nowadays.

    There are four possible outcomes:

    1) Woman keeps existing name of previous husband.

    2) Woman reverts to original name.

    3) Woman makes up new name.

    4) Woman takes name of new husband.

    How do you explain the first three to the new husband?

    “Explain” to him? I am assuming you’re saying the new husband would feel bad if she retained the name of her former husband, or reverted to her original (father’s) name, b/c the new husband wouldn’t feel like she was really ‘his’ or that their marriage is less real, or what? I’m confused.

  394. JenniferNotJenny
    JenniferNotJenny October 12, 2011 at 8:16 pm |

    Jill: Seriously. Even among the most feminist women I know, the kids almost always get dad’s last name (or hyphenated, which seems more fair). I am sure people have all kinds of reasons for that, but it does come down to tradition/ status. If I ever have kids, they are definitely taking my last name (or hyphenating). I’ve brought that up with a few dudes I’ve dated, and they universally freaked out.

    I know that in the state of Ohio 10 or so years ago, the law was that if a newborn’s parents are unmarried, and there is a father named on the birth certificate, the newborn MUST take the last name of their father’s. I can only imagine it was the same for married couples. And I hardly doubt that Ohio is the only state with that law.

  395. JenniferNotJenny
    JenniferNotJenny October 12, 2011 at 8:44 pm |

    anna: If she doesn’t take his name, or God forbid he takes hers, she must be a ballbreaking bitch who doesn’t really love him in many people’s eyes. Which is sexist bullshit. No man is expected to give up his last name to prove his love.

    Reminds me back when I was engaged to a conservative guy (I was young and didn’t know better) and I when I asked him what he was giving up on our upcoming marriage if I changed my name, my identity, his response pretty much boiled down to the fact that he would love me and take care of me. Yeah, glad that marriage never happened.

  396. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 9:13 pm |

    Look, I know women tend to get catty when challenged, but try not to revert to the full high-school “mean girls” persona, ok?

    There…now you have a target as low as the one you’ve set by your own example, folks. Seriously, the level of juvenile stupidity from some in this thread (EG, Kristen, Sheelzebub, etc.) is equal parts painful and compelling. Like watching a slow-motion train wreck or something.

  397. Alison
    Alison October 12, 2011 at 9:35 pm |

    Dude, seriously. Go fuck yourself. People have tried over and over to discuss these things with you and you’ve proven yourself to be about as receptive as a pile of cow shit. And now you’re being snide and sniveling because people are SO MEAN TO YOU OMG. Well, tough shit. You act like an asshole, people will treat you like an asshole. If we’re so catty and painful and stupid and childish, then why don’t you just go find an enlightened, brilliant group of mature adults like yourself to hang with. We’ll all be happier for it.

  398. EG
    EG October 12, 2011 at 9:56 pm |

    R. Dave just put me in company with two of my favorite commenters! Thanks, dude.

    It is amusing how very sore many men’s feelings get when women don’t automatically defer to their, ah, mature, intelligent rhetoric.

  399. igglanova
    igglanova October 12, 2011 at 10:01 pm |

    And there we have it. Doesn’t take long for men to resort to misogyny when we’ve bruised their feelings. Such catty, catty harpies we all are, and so unreasonable. I picture a cackling bird witch with the catwoman mask, purrsonally.

  400. zuzu
    zuzu October 12, 2011 at 10:02 pm |

    I am WOUNDED that I didn’t make the juvenile commenter cut.

    WOUNDED.

  401. Alison
    Alison October 12, 2011 at 10:04 pm |

    Don’t fret, zuzu. Maybe he didn’t call you juvenile because instead he thinks you’re an old spinster hag! Huzzah!

  402. igglanova
    igglanova October 12, 2011 at 10:08 pm |

    You know you’ve made it on this blog when you’re mentioned by name in an epic flounce. Congrats. Maybe R.Dave will be too busy sucking his thumb to annoy us anymore.

  403. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 12, 2011 at 10:12 pm |

    EG: R. Dave just put me in company with two of my favorite commenters! Thanks, dude.It is amusing how very sore many men’s feelings get when women don’t automatically defer to their, ah, mature, intelligent rhetoric.

    Ahhh…I love you too. Many of them do get all huffy when we don’t take care of their tender feelings. Because its perfectly okay for them to say to us “you’re experiences don’t count or are not valid”, but FSM forbid someone tells them that they are being shit heads. Frankly there have been a few too many of these the last few weeks. My patience is wearing thin.

  404. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 12, 2011 at 10:12 pm |

    EG: R. Dave just put me in company with two of my favorite commenters! Thanks, dude.It is amusing how very sore many men’s feelings get when women don’t automatically defer to their, ah, mature, intelligent rhetoric.

    Ahhh…I love you too. Many of them do get all huffy when we don’t take care of their tender feelings. Because its perfectly okay for them to say to us “you’re experiences don’t count or are not valid”, but FSM forbid someone tells them that they are being shit heads. Frankly there have been a few too many of these the last few weeks. My patience is wearing thin.

  405. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 12, 2011 at 10:20 pm |

    How did I double post?? This is why I should have mod power…also so that I can correct my numerous typos. ;)

  406. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 12, 2011 at 11:02 pm |

    R.Dave: Seriously, the level of juvenile stupidity from some in this thread (EG, Kristen, Sheelzebub, etc.) is equal parts painful and compelling.

    Lack of self-awareness, it hurts.

  407. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 11:44 pm |

    I have to say, it is amazing how frequently (and quickly) some self-described “feminists” (i) resort to gender-based discrimination and insults intended to play on gendered sensitivities when a male commenter disagrees with them and (ii) then project their own hangups about exactly those things onto said commenter. The “me too!” dog-piling by folks too lazy to have contributed any actual substance up-thread is also especially amusing.

  408. R.Dave
    R.Dave October 12, 2011 at 11:56 pm |

    In any case, this thread has followed the predictable pattern from interesting to infuriating to briefly amusing and finally to boring. So, I leave the last words on this exchange to whoever among you still feels the need for more snarky reassurance that you’re part of the in-group. Just try not to damage your hearing by shouting too loudly into that echo chamber.

  409. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig October 13, 2011 at 12:15 am |

    RDave:Dude, what the hell. You’ve basically been waving your peen all over this thread, and then you get huffy when some people call you on it and use logic to demonstrate why you are wrong. Go back to your frathouse, and don’t come out until you’ve grown up. If you ever do.
    Sorry for any unfortunate imagery. It’s late, I’m tired and I’m sick of all these stupid trolls.

  410. outrageandsprinkles
    outrageandsprinkles October 13, 2011 at 12:31 am |

    Aaaaaand, scene!

  411. zuzu
    zuzu October 13, 2011 at 1:00 am |

    Flounce-and-bounce!

  412. Azalea
    Azalea October 13, 2011 at 1:02 am |

    Kaz:
    Thanks, Jill!

    How does ethnicity and cultural preservation intersect with marriage and naming conventions?

    This is a really interesting question and I hope more people tackle it!

    I’m biracial, one set of great great grandparents had a name given to them by the family who owned them and it was/is a very rare last name but not one I’m too fond of.

    The other set while they never owned anybody personally did have family who did and that family forced their last names on their “property.”

    My husband’s great greatgrandfather made up his own last name and passed that name like a right of passage to his family. Most of his peers had names that were forced on them, he didn’t and neither did his children. There was absolutely nothing humane about the way my former name was given to that set of greatgreatgrandparents and I had no desire to keep that tradition going of just forcing it along, allowing the “family property” name to keep running with me.

  413. Alison
    Alison October 13, 2011 at 1:10 am |

    Aw, R. Dave left before I could reassure him that since everyone poops, there is totally nothing gendered about me wanting him to eat shit.

  414. Ismone
    Ismone October 13, 2011 at 1:27 am |

    R. Dave,

    You still have not responded to my twice-mentioned point that my current double last name identifies me as a divorced women, and that divorced women are treated badly in all kinds of bad and misogynistic ways.

    You also have not responded in any way to my point regarding the presumed illegitimacy of children (and again, what that says about the mother) should I give them my last name.

    And further to the point that my ex, who also changed his last name, is not presumed to be divorced even when he is introduced to people who *know* he was born with a different last name because in our culture, changing last names aren’t tied to divorce.

    So you have answered jack shit. You just say that me losing my google footprint would be the same as anyone in any naming convention. Not so. Because it doesn’t happen to men hardly ever.

    Otherwise there would probably be a solution for it.

    But keep pretending that you are arguing in good faith. Really. So persuasive. Unless someone actually goes back and reads all of the stuff that you have *obviously* ignored, even when it is highlighted and underlined and directed specifically to you.

  415. Mr. Kristen J.
    Mr. Kristen J. October 13, 2011 at 1:48 am |

    Thomas MacAulay Millar: Hey, how about a non-derailing comment that doesn’t feed the derail!How does ethnicity and cultural preservation intersect with marriage and naming conventions?

    As I understand it, this is my father’s main concern. In addition to not getting the “Kristen isn’t changing her name” memo, he apparently also missed the “We’re not having children” announcement. I suspect he still thinks we intend to have children at some point in the future. In our hypothetical discussions, Kristen and I have agreed that our hypothetical children would carry both last names and could choose which they preferred. Also, our hypothetical children would have a Japanese middle name – a tradition in Hawaii among the AJA.

    If our non-hypothetical furry child is any indication, she has my last name for convenience – I’m the one who ferries her to day care and the vet – two western names and various Japanese nicknames.

  416. Jamie
    Jamie October 13, 2011 at 2:45 am |

    Cue comment explosion.

    Author, you should read tarot!

  417. llama
    llama October 13, 2011 at 4:45 am |

    anyc: “Explain” to him? I am assuming you’re saying the new husband would feel bad if she retained the name of her former husband, or reverted to her original (father’s) name

    I am saying that the prospective new husband (being a man of which I have experience) might ask why a different choice is being made now that he is the prospective spouse. Depending on the answer he might feel bad.

    anyc: b/c the new husband wouldn’t feel like she was really ‘his’ or that their marriage is less real, or what? I’m confused.

    Why would you think this would be about ownership? There could be any number of comparisons that might be unplayable to him.

  418. llama
    llama October 13, 2011 at 5:08 am |

    I meant unpalatable rather than unplayable

  419. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 13, 2011 at 7:07 am |

    R.Dave: folks too lazy to have contributed any actual substance up-thread

    Lack of self-awareness, it hurts.

  420. Crys T
    Crys T October 13, 2011 at 8:40 am |

    Jesus, I read this thread a few days ago & found it somewhat interesting. I’ve been off ill for a few days & look what’s happened.

    It’s become dull as fluck to get through, and for 1 reason: the trolls have (yet again) been allowed to come in and completely take it over. They have now become the focus of this entire thread.

    You’re not fighting a battle, here. You’re not having a debate or winning hearts and minds. You’re also not saying anything new or interesting. What you’re doing is what everyone who has an ounce of sense about child psychology ALWAYS tell us to avoid doing: you’re rewarding bad behaviour. That’s it. That’s all.

    These men are not opponents, they’re silly litte spoiled, screaming brats who are screaming PRECISELY so you’ll put down what you’re doing and focus exclusively them. So just don’t do it. God.

  421. igglanova
    igglanova October 13, 2011 at 9:23 am |

    Well, thankfully I was not put on this Earth to make comment threads pleasant for Crys T to read.

  422. DouglasG
    DouglasG October 13, 2011 at 9:55 am |

    Ms(?) Fashionably Evil – That is a good reason. I just live in dread. Having seen the explosion of career counseling in which it has become Conventional Wisdom to have a social networking page that will prove to The Corporation that one is the Perfect Worker Bee (and by the corresponding inevitable creep that not to have such is sure proof that one is Not Serious About One’s Career), I now get to be haunted by the soon-to-come advice that people Serious About Careers all have names that begin with A, B or C for slackers. Self-help books will come out to assist people in Choosing the Perfect Name for Your Career. Oh, the horrors!

    Maybe the other party involved should try on changing the S to a B to see if that works better.

    I’ll admit to a slight prejudice in favour of letters that score highly in Scrabble. After all, one never knows – someone might become sufficiently famous that zir name becomes accepted as a commonly used word, and an increase in uses for the Q and the Zed are always welcome.

  423. DouglasG
    DouglasG October 13, 2011 at 10:11 am |

    Mr Kristen – That sounds very reasonable, though you and Ms Kristen might be far too compatible. After all, you aren’t quarreling over your hypothetical grandchildren.

  424. llama
    llama October 13, 2011 at 11:05 am |

    Jill: So I’m coming late to this thread, but serious R.Dave? No. I think you’re gone at this point? But I’m going to go ahead and make sure you stay gone.

    Pity, I was wondering how deep a hole he could dig. Now we will never find out.

  425. Donna L
    Donna L October 13, 2011 at 12:23 pm |

    I’m glad that Dave is gone, and I pity the other feminist blogs he claims to frequent.

    Although the name change issue is academic for me — once was enough both for changing my name (my first name) and for marriage — the connection of my surname to my family history and my Jewishness are both very important to me. It would feel unspeakably strange to me to no longer have a surname that was identifiably Jewish. (At least here in New York; I realize that there are other places in the USA and abroad where people have no idea what names are or aren’t usually “Jewish,” even though mine is about as Jewish as it’s possible to be. When my son and I were in Berlin this summer — where my mother was born and lived until she was 15, and where nobody in my family had been back since 1941 — nobody seemed to know we were Jewish unless we told them. Once upon a time, that wouldn’t have been true, for good and ill.)

    Unlike some other trans people I know, it never occurred to me to change my surname when I transitioned. I didn’t want to lose my entire connection to my family and its history, especially since my son shares my last name and happens to be the last living descendant of my father’s father’s father’s father — whose tombstone survives in the Jewish cemetery in Jurbarkas (Yurburg in Yiddish) in Lithuania, where no living Jews remain — to have that name.

    I didn’t change — or ever consider for a moment changing — my middle name, either. It’s my mother’s birth name (I’ve always despised “maiden name”!), and although it isn’t hyphenated with my last name I consider it an integral part of my identity, as it was of hers: when she married my father in 1948 after they both graduated from Columbia Law School (she was one of three women in the class; not bad for a refugee who’d only been in the US for less than five years) she kept her last name as her middle name and used both that name and my father’s together sometimes.

    And she gave it to me very deliberately as a symbol of her survival, as well as in memory of her murdered family in Europe, on both her parents’ sides, including two grandparents and 9 other very close family members.

    As it happens, ever since my mother died in 1975 when I was 20 (we were in a car accident), I am not simply the last person in my family with that name, but the last person in the world; there’s nobody else left. There only ever was one family in Europe with that name (there was one other family with an identically pronounced and similarly spelled name, but they all died out before 1900), which my great-great-great-grandfather, a minor supplier of horses to the Prussian army during the Napoleonic Wars, invented and adopted in 1812 when the Jews of Pomerania (and elsewhere in Prussia) were required to adopt hereditary surnames. It was never a prolific family, and they’re all gone now except me. Although my son has said he’s thinking of making it his middle name someday (it shares a first initial with his present middle name); my former spouse didn’t like the name — too peculiar-sounding and nobody ever knows how to spell it — and was didn’t want to give it to him at birth.

    Plus, it’s my cat’s middle name, but he isn’t likely to pass it on.

    So I never dreamed of changing my middle or last names, and wouldn’t have even considered it if I’d lived a different life and had ever married a man — even apart from not liking the idea in the first place as a general matter.

    Not that I ever really had any significant career or other achievements identified with my own birth name, but it still amazes me that anyone could possibly not understand what it means for women to be expected to relinquish those ties. I did have a few journal articles published under my original name and was in the credits of one movie (nothing to do with being a lawyer; it all related to Jewish history/genealogy), and even just changing my first name has made it impossible for me still to retain any kind of connection with that. Since, for obvious reasons, I never, ever, ever tell anyone what my first name used to be. My choice, of course, but I still understand the loss.

  426. Todd Pettigrew
    Todd Pettigrew October 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm |

    When my wife and I talked about getting married, I didn’t want her to take my name but she insisted that she wanted to change it. I didn’t get upset, but I did try to persuade her to keep her name.

    Finally she said, “you can’t use a feminist argument to make a woman do something she doesn’t want to do.”

    And that was that.

  427. suspect class
    suspect class October 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm |

    Bagelsan:
    I guess you’re one of those people who ascribes to the pseudo-scientific notion that trans men are “really” female, and trans women are “really” male, because biological sex has a fixed meaning, isn’t in any way a construct, it’s all about the chromosomes, yada yada.

    Sigh. No, it’s because male-bodied people don’t generally have uteri that gestate babies. Gender is completely unrelated to uterus-status; however “child-bearing” is related to biological sex.

    You’ve said you don’t agree that biological sex is fixed, but then you say it’s related to child-baring. Statistically, of course this is true. But as a rule, no, unless trans men aren’t biologically male. I am male, legally, socially, and biologically. The fact that some aspects of my anatomy may not be typical as compared to the average male (whether you assume the standard model to be cis & textbook male, or an actual statistical average of all men) doesn’t change that. Sometimes that may be relevant in a medical context, but there are a lot of things about my body that are relevant in some medical contexts and not others. The relevant issue in child-birth as it applies to me is not my sex, but whether I possess the correct organs and whether I can produce the appropriate hormones in order to get and stay pregnant (among the other health considerations for pregnancy).

    On the original topic: My mother has never changed her name. Even though her name on my birth certificate appears as herfirstname hislastname. I have the same last name as my father. When my mom married my step-father, she considered whether to change her last name. Both, I think, as a recognition of how strong their relationship was, and also probably because keeping her name had proved to be a pain in the ass in a lot of respects. (obviously convention & social pressures play a role always, but I mean I think this was an explicit consideration, though I’m not positive). But the story goes that I got really upset about being left out, so in my household we each had our own last names.

    My husband’s mothers have different names, his mom #1 has is dad’s name, and mom #2 has her birth name. His older brother has mom #2′s first-husband’s name. We debated changing our names upon marriage, but I didn’t want to change mine–partly because I was still legally female at the time and rankled at the idea of being his “wife”–and he felt that as he’d already changed his first and middle names at transition, it would hurt his family and seem like a rejection at a time when they were getting close again. We said we’d hyphenate, but it’s just too much of a pain to go through legal paper work again.

    We’ll probably give the kids both of our names, hyphenated, since having two dads raises plenty of “is this really your child” problems. Both of us are very clear from our own childhoods that matching names are not necessary to make a family. But we’d like to do whatever we can to make our family status clear to others, since having same-sex parents allows so much opportunity for people to question the validity of your family. I got plenty of that growing up in blended families, and my husband is particularly sensitive to how children of gay couples are treated. We may well end up hyphenating socially, but like others here, I’ve published and made professional contacts under my current name so changing it now seems ill-advised.

    These above choices are of course deeply influenced by hetero- and cis-normative rules about family and identity. I’d like to say that my family had all different names, and we turned out just fine, but a) I share a last name with my sisters, and that makes me really happy, so I can’t say that I relish the idea of not sharing a last name with my children, and b) sometimes you have to pick your battles. Which I think is something most of us here more or less agree on, I just thought it was worth acknowledging in the context of the above personal history.

  428. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy October 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm |

    Who exactly. The women making the change? Shouldn’t they be the judge of whether they are hurt.

    All I am saying is that there are surely some abusive situations in which people are forced to make the change and that is clearly wrong. But there are other situations in which the woman sees it as an good tradition that she is just fine with (or maybe even wants).

    I personally think the tradition of giving rings to women is sexist, impractical and hypocritical for feminist thinking people, but I did it because my wife thought otherwise and in the big picture and it was important to her. Sometimes it is as simple as that.

    Iany:

  429. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 13, 2011 at 1:58 pm |

    Angry Black Guy: The women making the change? Shouldn’t they be the judge of whether they are hurt.

    Didn’t you come on to a thread where a bunch of women said they would be hurt or degraded if they were expected to change their names? Or do they not exist to you? Also, where is it said that women aren’t allowed to feel ambivalent if they feel ambivalent?

    Angry Black Guy: But there are other situations in which the woman sees it as an good tradition that she is just fine with (or maybe even wants).

    Like the women who are barefoot pregnant in the kitchen making men sandwiches? Great, that’s settled. Let’s never question sexism again. This dude just solved it. Some women like being barefoot and pregnant, therefore it’s not worth challenging barefoot and pregnant norms.

  430. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy October 13, 2011 at 2:02 pm |

    I appreciate the realtively none angry responses to what was a fairly controversial initial comment. If anyone is still paying attention, riddle me this:

    Most of the responses back from people opposed to the tradition fall into one of two categories:

    1. There is no benefit in it so why do it.
    2. The burden on the woman is great and lasts a lifetime.

    For item 1, I think tradition is the answer. Many people care nothing about tradition. I get that. But I just saw a wedding where a woman wore the veil her mother wore, which her gransmother and sister also wore. For some, tradition and lineage is important. If you don’t get that, there will never be an answer to no.1 that is satisfactory.

    No.2 is much more interesting, because although many here have said that the difficulties of maintaining reputation, friends, etc. is complicated by taking on another’s name, this is going to become infinitely easier. Every year brings us closer to unified computer systems in which your SS controls and a change of name in one place ripples through everything. In ten years, we will likely have a unified online ID that is used for everything based on biometrics of some sort that will identify you to the government and everyone else. The issue of name confusion will be greatly decreased. And even our online personalities will provide the ability to give both original and married names (facebook for example is rumored to be providing this option shortly).

    So it is not hard to imagine a world where such difficulties no longer exist. Let’s pretend that that world is here, the question is whether the folks opposed to the tradition would find another reason to be opposed other than the complications. My sense is yes.

    That right?

    In other words, 1 and 2 above are the reasons given primarily, but even if they weren’t issues, many would still oppose the practive, which is interesting to me and reflects upon whether the “people are hurt” charge is valid.

  431. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy October 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: Didn’t you come on to a thread where a bunch of women said they would be hurt or degraded if they were expected to change their names? Or do they not exist to you? Also, where is it said that women aren’t allowed to feel ambivalent if they feel ambivalent?

    Like the women who are barefoot pregnant in the kitchen making men sandwiches? Great, that’s settled. Let’s never question sexism again. This dude just solved it. Some women like being barefoot and pregnant, therefore it’s not worth challenging barefoot and pregnant norms.

    My point was that this is a very one sided conversation for the most part. I have read most of the 400 comments and I don’t remember any where a woman said “my husband really thought this was important and I did it because he wanted me to.” despite the fact that that is undoubtedly the case with a significant percentage of married women. It is their perspective that is missing.

    I wager that if many of those women were here, sexism or coercion wouldn’t be the first response. I think they would respond in the same way that I did when I paid too much for that engagement ring:

    Sometimes you just do it because you love the person, its tradition and it isn’t that big a deal in the big scheme of things.

    My wife took my name because she had already gone through a number of last name changes due to her parents marriages and divorces and she liked the fact that my name represented an uncomplicated lineage for our kids.

    Can’t that be an acceptable answer?

    My bigger point: I think women should be educated as to the roots of the tradition, but that being said, couples make compromises for the wants and wishes of their spouses every single day. I don’t think it is inherently wrong for a man to want his wife to take his name or vice versa, or to even lobby pretty strongly for it. If she/he says no, then you either move on or don’t get married.

    But there is no harm in wanting it I think.

  432. pnkrokhockeymom
    pnkrokhockeymom October 13, 2011 at 2:41 pm |

    When I was younger, I changed my name to my first husband’s name, frankly because I was nervous to buck the tradition and afraid of making waves. I wouldn’t make the same decision if I were getting married for the first time today. When I divorced, however, it was 13 years later, and I’d already built up a national reputation in my career with my ex’s name, so decided to keep it. My ex (who is still a very good friend), doesn’t care.

    Four years post divorce: I got married again (this past June). My new husband never expected that I would change my name to his, and he entirely understands why I felt I couldn’t change my name back to my maiden name. If we have a kid, the kid’s name will include both of our last names, and that will be a nice connection between new-marriage-kid and old-marriage-kid as siblings. There are no tensions over this. He never asked me to change my name. When we discussed it, it was because I brought it up in case he was feeling hurt about the first marriage thing, but he wasn’t. It’s simply not an issue.

  433. Alice
    Alice October 13, 2011 at 3:14 pm |

    I’m already considering changing my last name, because it’s not very practical. If I was marrying someone with a name I liked better, I’d probably consider taking it. If not, I think I’d prefer for both me and the spouse to change to a new, shared name.

  434. Mr. Kristen J.
    Mr. Kristen J. October 13, 2011 at 3:31 pm |

    Angry Black Guy: My point was that this is a very one sided conversation for the most part. I have read most of the 400 comments and I don’t remember any where a woman said “my husband really thought this was important and I did it because he wanted me to.” despite the fact that that is undoubtedly the case with a significant percentage of married women. It is their perspective that is missing. I wager that if many of those women were here, sexism or coercion wouldn’t be the first response. I think they would respond in the same way that I did when I paid too much for that engagement ring:Sometimes you just do it because you love the person, its tradition and it isn’t that big a deal in the big scheme of things. My wife took my name because she had already gone through a number of last name changes due to her parents marriages and divorces and she liked the fact that my name represented an uncomplicated lineage for our kids. Can’t that be an acceptable answer?My bigger point: I think women should be educated as to the roots of the tradition, but that being said, couples make compromises for the wants and wishes of their spouses every single day. I don’t think it is inherently wrong for a man to want his wife to take his name or vice versa, or to even lobby pretty strongly for it. If she/he says no, then you either move on or don’t get married.But there is no harm in wanting it I think.

    I disagree. There is often a great deal of harm in wanting.

    Hopefully you would not argue that there is no harm in wanting a wife who doesn’t work or a wife who doesn’t know how to read. Yet each of these was argued in western society in recent memory.

    When we press these or other sexist ideas on the women we love and the women who love us, we bring the oppressive system into their homes and families. When we ask our loved ones to compromise themselves by complying with kyriarchal norms, we confirm the kyriarchy’s message that they are not acceptable the way they are. In short, you transform love from a place of safety and acceptance to one more place of rejection and oppression.

  435. EG
    EG October 13, 2011 at 4:35 pm |

    Indeed, the worst forms of patriarchy have often masqueraded under the guise of “love.” “I just get so angry that I can’t control myself when I see you talking to another guy because I love you, baby.” “I love you, and I’ll take care of you [by taking control of all the finances].” “I love you, and if you love me, too, you’ll…”

    Bullshit.

    And don’t pull this “you guys just can’t understand the importance of tradition” crap, either. You’re not the only person in the world who cares about tradition. I just don’t see why I should maintain a tradition that symbolically and historically signals my status as property, and currently would make my life a lot more difficult (and no, I don’t find your notion that it will soon be immaterial because all our biometrics will be in a giant database reassuring; I find it horrific). If I get married, I want to do so under a chuppah; I want my partner to step on a glass. Those are traditions. Changing my name is actively harmful.

    And yes, lots of women choose to carry on patriarchal traditions–there are more women than there are men, so without our active collaboration, the whole system of patriarchy would crumble. Why do they choose to do so? Well, socialization and ideology play a very large part. Hence the radical feminist concept of “interior colonization.”

  436. EG
    EG October 13, 2011 at 4:37 pm |

    By the way, Donna L, your history and that of your family is fascinating. Do you have a blog?

  437. Ismone
    Ismone October 13, 2011 at 5:03 pm |

    ABG,

    People aren’t going to find me based on an identification number or biometrics. Like, oh, gee, remember that girl I knew in elementary school? Well, here is a piece of her hair I conveniently have, I will use it to search the internet for her whereabouts! Ain’t happening. Nor is it likely anyone other than me and perhaps close family would remember any identification number assigned to me. So no one is going to be like, oh yeah, that fellow student, 24601 (like it would be that short), I should google her.

    Not. Happening. And also, when people discuss me in conversation, they use my name. I want to be remembered by my name.

    Like Dave R., you are also ignoring the whole name-change signalling divorce problem, and how that means that people know, well, for one, that a I presumably have a sexual history. Fortunately, I live in a liberal area, but I know plenty of women who deal with a lot of static over being divorced.

    So no, it isn’t just people finding me on the internet.

  438. Donna L
    Donna L October 13, 2011 at 5:27 pm |

    EG:
    By the way, Donna L, your history and that of your family is fascinating.Do you have a blog?

    Thank you very much, EG, that’s very nice of you to say. No, I’m afraid I’m just a commenter, not a blogger — mostly on Shakesville and on a private trans-related message board where I’m a moderator, and sometimes on a forum for parents of kids in high school and college.

    But if you’re interested, this is something I wrote about my trip to Berlin this summer, and what it felt like for me to go “back” there, so many years later:

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/13033106-post14.html

    And this is what I wrote a couple of years about my mother’s experiences after she left her home and her parents at the age of 15 when they sent her away from Berlin to England on the first Kindertransport a few weeks after Kristallnacht; it includes translations of a few of her early letters to her parents:

    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parent-cafe/827831-kindertransport-article-about-my-mothers-experiences-beginning-dec-1938-a.html

    To give an example, this was the first letter (remember, she was only 15!):

    Friday, 2:30 pm

    Dear Parents:

    I assume you must have received my postcard from Hanover by now. But let me start my description of the last two days from the beginning. The trip on Thursday was very nice. The kids in our train compartment were all first-rate kids, as are, by the way, 95% of all the kids. Dear Mutti, you gave me much too much to eat; like almost all the other kids, I was able to finish only about half the food I had with me. The border check at Bentheim functioned precisely and without problem for all of us. At about six pm we had a splendid reception in Holland. Huge train cars with warm, excellent food (a thick soup of beans, meat, and potatoes) with cold drinks and sweets were positioned right at the border. We were most cordially received by the committees. There were delegations at all train stations (Utrecht, Rotterdam), to force fruit and sweets on us, although we were already stuffed, and to wish us good luck. The people from the Dutch and English press kept pestering us during the entire passage through Holland, and even after that, with their constant flash photographs. In Holland we already had to set our watches back forty minutes. At Hoek van Holland, the Dutch checked our names, and then (at about 9 pm) we went on board. The ship was very nice (about 2000 tons). If we had wanted it, they would have served us another good dinner. We had two-bed cabins (second class). We left at 11.

    And this is the start of our barfing tragedy. The ship sailed for about 7 hours in very agitated water. During this time, only about three of the 200 kids did not get seasick. I wasn’t one of those three. From 11 pm to 6 am, I didn’t get a minute’s sleep, because about every eight minutes I threw up. Throughout the ship you heard nothing except the crying, groaning, and gargling of people throwing up. We threw up in sickness bags that were provided. I personally used up 6 bags, plus the floor, the chamber pot, the bed sheet, and I staggered to the toilet three times, where I alternately threw up and had diarrhea. In the morning we were all examined by a British doctor and were given number tags. I have number 6013. — By the way, the blue blanket is priceless; without it I would have frozen to death on the ship, and here in the camp, too, it’s unbelievably cold. — There were English people and press people already on the ship. I had a conversation with a very upper-class British Jew, who stared at us inquisitively and didn’t speak a word of German. He said he wanted to take a German child into his home to keep his 16-year-old daughter company. He said he’d love to take me. (He was impressed with my excellent English.) He wanted to know my age, education, plans for the future, my father’s occupation, and provenance. He gave me his London address and told me to write a letter to his daughter, because he wanted to see if my written English was also good. I’ll discuss the matter with the director of the camp today, and then, once I’m sure the man is honest, I’ll write immediately. I asked this gentleman, among other things, whether he thought my plans for the Matric exam were realistic. He thought finishing my Matric by July 1939 would be feasible, but he didn’t think I could become a teacher. Well, all right.

    They had sent our suitcases to Harwich; we didn’t even have to touch them. We were driven to the camp in a bus. First of all, my address here:

    Marianne M—– (room 16B)
    Holiday Camp
    Dover Court Bay, Essex
    England

    It’s wonderful here!!! We arrived at nine o’clock, and we were immediately led to the living quarters (enormous, gigantic hall; kitchens; lounges). They had set long, colorful tables with flowers. There was porridge, bread, butter, jam, and a hot milk drink. After that we were assigned rooms, and then we were allowed to do whatever we wanted until 1 p.m. The sleeping quarters are delightful* one-story rows of cottages made of corrugated sheet metal and cardboard (they are really meant to be summer cottages). The bedrooms are on the ground level; you walk right into them as you enter. All the older people, including me, have little rooms of their own. [A drawing of the floor plan follows.]

    Everything is very cheerful and colorful: there are red curtains on the closet and bedside table; green door, green linoleum floor, green broom; a washbasin with running water, electric light, a mirror, a pretty folding chair, an armchair with green trimmings, and a bedside rug. The bed is as wide as a double bed, with only two thin blankets on it. No heat. I’m terribly cold. Food is good.** I must close — post is leaving.

    Marianne

    [PS:] They are paying for my postage.

    * Not really, from what she told me
    ** Ditto – she hated English food and never got used to it during the nearly 5 years she spent there.

    More at the link, including what happened with the people who took her in (the man she met on the boat and his family). It didn’t turn out well.

    Anyway, sorry for the digression (derail?), but in a feeble attempt to link things pack to the subject of this thread I’ll just say that it shouldn’t be too hard to understand why I wouldn’t ever have wanted to give up her birth name, which she gave me — I’ve always felt more attached to it in some ways than to my surname, though I’d never give up either. It’s one of my few connections to her.

  439. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy October 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm |

    Mr. Kristen J.: I disagree.There is often a great deal of harm in wanting.

    Hopefully you would not argue that there is no harm in wanting a wife who doesn’t work or a wife who doesn’t know how to read.Yet each of these was argued in western society in recent memory.

    When we press these or other sexist ideas on the women we love and the women who love us, we bring the oppressive system into their homes and families.When we ask our loved ones to compromise themselves by complying with kyriarchal norms, we confirm the kyriarchy’s message that they are not acceptable the way they are.In short, you transform love from a place of safety and acceptance to one more place of rejection and oppression.

    Is there a harm in wanting a husband that makes enough money to allow a person to stay home with the kids or work, whichever one she chooses (this is very common I think)? Is there harm in a woman wanting a spouse that is taller than she is? Etc.

    The key is intent. In the examples you give, the core intent of the desire is damaging to the spouse per se. In other words, it is objectively bad to not be able to read. It is objectively bad to desire someone who has to be dependent on you.

    To be honest, I don’t know if a couple settling on a shared name and that name being the name of the husband is in the same category. If you have the history of the practice in mind, then maybe.

    But if we didn’t have the concept of marriage and we were coming up with all the rules from scratch, uniting the husband and wife under a common name wouldn’t be a bad idea. If the default was the wife’s name, I don’t think anyone would view it as having any deeper meaning and they same would be true if the default ended up being the husband’s name.

    Shorter: on it’s face, picking either spouse’s name to signify the marriage isn’t automatically bad. You have to take the additional steps to look at intent and the internal dynamics of the couple. And honestly, the only people who can make that call are the couples themselves.

  440. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy October 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm |

    Ismone:
    ABG,

    People aren’t going to find me based on an identification number or biometrics.Like, oh, gee, remember that girl I knew in elementary school?Well, here is a piece of her hair I conveniently have, I will use it to search the internet for her whereabouts!Ain’t happening.Nor is it likely anyone other than me and perhaps close family would remember any identification number assigned to me.So no one is going to be like, oh yeah, that fellow student, 24601 (like it would be that short), I should google her.

    Not.Happening.And also, when people discuss me in conversation, they use my name.I want to be remembered by my name.

    Like Dave R., you are also ignoring the whole name-change signalling divorce problem, and how that means that people know, well, for one, that a I presumably have a sexual history.Fortunately, I live in a liberal area, but I know plenty of women who deal with a lot of static over being divorced.

    So no, it isn’t just people finding me on the internet.

    1. I was being a little techno-geeky, but the reality is that if you put in my wife’s maiden name on the internet, her old name and new name come up and it’s obvious that it is her. It’s not hard to make that happen and in the future, the idea that you couldn’t be found because you changed your name is going to be like someone from the 80s saying that they couldn’t imagine a world where no one used phone books. Your concern just isn’t going to be relevant in the future and although you may have a point now, it is not an issue my daughters, for example, will face.

    2. I am not ignoring the “name change signaling divorce thing”. I am stating that in our connected age, everyone knows whether you are married or divorced anyway. And if it wasn’t on your facebook page, it would be obvious when you showed up without a ring. Plus, this isn’t the 30s. Over half of us are getting divorced. There is no scarlett letter for that. It is the norm. I live in the deep south in the middle of the bible belt and everyone I know is touched by divorce.

    But even if this divorce stigma is real, I didn’t get married with divorce in mind. I got married because I understood the risks of devoting my life to someone.

    If you are on the cusp of marriage and you are making decisions based on what’s going to happen if you divorce, you are halfway to divorce anyway.

    I make a fair amount of money more than my spouse and if I thought that way, I’d have asked for a pre-nup. But to me that is not the way to look at marriage.

  441. Tamara
    Tamara October 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm |

    @Angry Black Guy : “If you are on the cusp of marriage and you are making decisions based on what’s going to happen if you divorce, you are halfway to divorce anyway”.

    Gotta disagree with this blanket statement. One can be deeply committed and also look after one’s longterm interests at the same time.

  442. EG
    EG October 13, 2011 at 6:16 pm |

    But if we didn’t have the concept of marriage and we were coming up with all the rules from scratch, uniting the husband and wife under a common name wouldn’t be a bad idea. If the default was the wife’s name, I don’t think anyone would view it as having any deeper meaning and they same would be true if the default ended up being the husband’s name.

    Well, sure, if we didn’t have a history of patriarchal oppression, and we didn’t have a contemporary context of institutionalized sexism, then, indeed, changing one’s name would be a non-issue. And, as my dad says, if frogs had wings, they wouldn’t bump their asses on the ground.

    My grandmother’s version of that saying, which she would only utter in Yiddish, was considerably ruder.

  443. Ismone
    Ismone October 13, 2011 at 6:19 pm |

    ABG,

    Well, in my case, people only knowing my married name on google cannot find half of my career. If I change it again, the connection will be further lost.

    And you are wrong about divorce. People now know it, or intuit it, when they meet me. That is not the case for my ex. That means in any business meeting, I am publicly understood as a divorced woman. There is a huge stigma. And you are wrong about the half thing, way wrong. Not all people marry, and ~40%, not 50% of marriages end in divorce. So significantly fewer than half of women are divorced. When it comes to women my age, most of us have never married in the first place. So I am in a tiny, very visible, minority.

    I am not on the cusp of marriage, and I resent like hell that you are making moral judgments about me based on the fact that my existing divorce and what my reaction to that means. I mean, given your argument, that is pretty fucking ironic. You are telling the divorced women that her attitudes predispose her to divorce. That is really a jerk move, whether you meant it to be or not, and underscores the prejudice that divorced women face.

  444. Ismone
    Ismone October 13, 2011 at 6:20 pm |

    correction, the divorced woman. There is only one of me, as far as I know.

  445. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 13, 2011 at 7:07 pm |

    Angry Black Guy: My wife took my name because she had already gone through a number of last name changes due to her parents marriages and divorces and she liked the fact that my name represented an uncomplicated lineage for our kids.

    Can’t that be an acceptable answer?

    Yes. However, you’re generalizing from your wife. One woman is not all women. Fact: your wife is not any of the women on this thread who said they don’t want to change their name and feel oppressed by it. Her answer is not the only legitimate answer.

    The women! We are diverse!

  446. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 13, 2011 at 7:10 pm |

    Ismone: And you are wrong about divorce. People now know it, or intuit it, when they meet me

    Ismone, it’s interesting that this has been your experience. When I meet someone with two last names, I assume they are married (not divorced) or both parents gave them their last names. I would love to hear more about this, if you feel like sharing. I don’t think people talk about the stigma of divorce enough.

  447. EG
    EG October 13, 2011 at 8:15 pm |

    Donna L,

    Thank you so much for those links. I’m going to save them until tomorrow, when I can start reading at an earlier hour and focus properly. I’m very grateful that you wrote them and that you posted the links. The kindertransport. I’ve always wanted to read more about it, but have been too…I guess…frightened of confronting how much the parents and children involved must have lost and suffered. Thank you again. Your mother’s family went through so much to preserve her; her name is all the more significant.

  448. EG
    EG October 13, 2011 at 8:26 pm |

    But even if this divorce stigma is real, I didn’t get married with divorce in mind. I got married because I understood the risks of devoting my life to someone.

    Oh, well then. I mean, when my parents got married, they always knew in the back of their minds that they would have two daughters and then, a few weeks before their twentieth anniversary, split up. That’s how it works, isn’t it? You always know ahead of times how things are going to end up.

    Dude. Nobody gets married with divorce in mind. Almost everyone who gets married is thinking some variation of “This is going to work out and we’ll be together forever.”

    If you are on the cusp of marriage and you are making decisions based on what’s going to happen if you divorce, you are halfway to divorce anyway.

    Yeah, well, this is exactly the kind of thinking that’s gotten many, many women fucked over. Sure, why not be a stay-at-home-mom? Your husband will support you, no problem. Oh, 15 years later, you two have raised three kids and he’s fallen in love with somebody else? Well, good luck finding a decent job after that long out of work, to say nothing of the pension you don’t have and the social security you haven’t accrued, especially if you can’t afford to go to court about it. Oh, he’s gotten a fabulous job offer thousands of miles away from everybody you know? Well, marriage is forever…

    Making sure your life will be as smooth as possible even in the event of divorce doesn’t mean you’re halfway to divorce, just as taking out flood insurance on your house doesn’t mean you’re encouraging flooding. It’s just part of taking good care of yourself.

  449. llama
    llama October 13, 2011 at 8:47 pm |

    EG: My grandmother’s version of that saying, which she would only utter in Yiddish, was considerably ruder.

    Is that “if your aunty had balls she would be your uncle” ?

  450. Angryblackguy
    Angryblackguy October 13, 2011 at 10:00 pm |

    Ismone:
    ABG,

    Well, in my case, people only knowing my married name on google cannot find half of my career.If I change it again, the connection will be further lost.

    And you are wrong about divorce.People now know it, or intuit it, when they meet me.That is not the case for my ex.That means in any business meeting, I am publicly understood as a divorced woman.There is a huge stigma.And you are wrong about the half thing, way wrong.Not all people marry, and ~40%, not 50% of marriages end in divorce.So significantly fewer than half of women are divorced.When it comes to women my age, most of us have never married in the first place.So I am in a tiny, very visible, minority.

    I am not on the cusp of marriage, and I resent like hell that you are making moral judgments about me based on the fact that my existing divorce and what my reaction to that means.I mean, given your argument, that is pretty fucking ironic.You are telling the divorced women that her attitudes predispose her to divorce.That is really a jerk move, whether you meant it to be or not, and underscores the prejudice that divorced women face.

    I am saying simply to each his or her own. For you the tradition comes with baggage that others might not have. I am not a woman so I can’t refute your point directly but I can make an analogy.

    Watermelons. I love them but whenever I am around white people I am very conscious about the history. I don’t eat them in those situations. But my kids LOVE them and have no concept of the history. As a result, they often have other white kids over the summer offering to share lunches and such with them and at one point a kid offered my daughter watermelon in a joking way. I instantly flew into a rage but later came to find out that the joke was about something unrelated. My kids just had no concept of the history and why should they. They don’t care about the history. They just like what they like and unless there is some real racism inherent in an interaction involving watermelons it is not fair for me to saddle them with my experiences and knowledge of what they symbolize.

    I completely understand how the name tradition strikes you but there are men and women everywhere for whom the notion is completely innocent and different.

    I don’t think we should dismiss those people with an air of superiority or “I know better than thou” superiority. Every situation is different. We should be aware of the history and never forget, but I think we should understand that people are free to make traditions mean whatever they want them too.

    To each her own.

  451. Angryblackguy
    Angryblackguy October 13, 2011 at 10:04 pm |

    EG: Oh, well then.I mean, when my parents got married, they always knew in the back of their minds that they would have two daughters and then, a few weeks before their twentieth anniversary, split up.That’s how it works, isn’t it?You always know ahead of times how things are going to end up.

    Dude.Nobody gets married with divorce in mind.Almost everyone who gets married is thinking some variation of “This is going to work out and we’ll be together forever.”

    Yeah, well, this is exactly the kind of thinking that’s gotten many, many women fucked over.Sure, why not be a stay-at-home-mom?Your husband will support you, no problem.Oh, 15 years later, you two have raised three kids and he’s fallen in love with somebody else?Well, good luck finding a decent job after that long out of work, to say nothing of the pension you don’t have and the social security you haven’t accrued, especially if you can’t afford to go to court about it.Oh, he’s gotten a fabulous job offer thousands of miles away from everybody you know?Well, marriage is forever…

    Making sure your life will be as smooth as possible even in the event of divorce doesn’t mean you’re halfway to divorce, just as taking out flood insurance on your house doesn’t mean you’re encouraging flooding.It’s just part of taking good care of yourself.

    Marriage is a risk. Divorce is always possible. Sometimes the woman is hurt and sometimes the man is and sometimes both are.

    But I went into it completely and 100 percent aware of the dangers and risks and I have never looked back. If I get a divorce, I’d be crushed and angry and wished I could change things, etc. but I can’t feel bad about the risk taken because that is part of what makes the commitment real.

    No risk. No reward.

  452. Angryblackguy
    Angryblackguy October 13, 2011 at 10:11 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: Yes. However, you’re generalizing from your wife. One woman is not all women. Fact: your wife is not any of the women on this thread who said they don’t want to change their name and feel oppressed by it. Her answer is not the only legitimate answer.

    The women! We are diverse!

    Completely diverse. Absolutely right. Which is the point. It is a personal decision and not one that others should stigmatize either way. This is a feminist forum so there are fewer women here who oppose the concept, but the absent women aren’t ignorant necessarily or making the wrong choices for themselves.

    But on point, the issue Jill raised was the kardashian husband’s pressing of the point. In marriages, there are always give and take battles like that. The guy wanted her to take his name for tradition. I don’t think that automatically makes him an ogre. Now if he would not relent and made it a make or break issue, he’d be a jerk.

    But it’s OK to ask so long as she understood that he wasn’t coming from a place of ownership, which I think is possible.

  453. WordBlanding
    WordBlanding October 13, 2011 at 10:32 pm |

    I agree completely. It’s hard to recognize that taking one’s husband’s name is merely a reflection of the woman becoming her husband’s property, or the transfer from her father’s ownership to her husband’s. It’s practices like these that still hold on today that continue to encourage the subjugation of women.

  454. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 13, 2011 at 11:12 pm |

    Angryblackguy: Completely diverse. Absolutely right. Which is the point. It is a personal decision and not one that others should stigmatize either way.

    And where did anyone here say boo about the women who change their name? I know its a long thread, but there are dozens of women on here who did in fact change their names and as far as I can see…there’s no shaming…no name calling…no revocation of the revered feminist card. Just people talking about how fucked up the *expectation* that women change their name is.

  455. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 13, 2011 at 11:31 pm |

    Angryblackguy: But I went into it completely and 100 percent aware of the dangers and risks and I have never looked back. If I get a divorce, I’d be crushed and angry and wished I could change things, etc. but I can’t feel bad about the risk taken because that is part of what makes the commitment real.

    No risk. No reward.

    Did you change your last name to your spouse’s? Why do you think this shit is relevant? The point is that you have less inconvenience than a woman. In fact, you can’t even imagine it to be inconvenient, and you dismiss it because you shouldn’t be expecting divorce. Dismissive bullshit is dismissive.

    Angryblackguy: It is a personal decision and not one that others should stigmatize either way

    Angry Black Guy: I personally think the tradition of giving rings to women is sexist, impractical and hypocritical for feminist thinking people,

    Oh, so stigmatizing “traditions” is only cool when it inconveniences you? Awesome. Tell me more misogynistic tropes, oh wise one.

  456. Iany
    Iany October 14, 2011 at 12:01 am |

    Angry Black Guy:
    Who exactly.The women making the change? Shouldn’t they be the judge of whether they are hurt.

    All I am saying is that there are surely some abusive situations in which people are forced to make the change and that is clearly wrong.But there are other situations in which the woman sees it as an good tradition that she is just fine with(or maybe even wants).

    I personally think the tradition of giving rings to women is sexist, impractical and hypocritical for feminist thinking people, but I did it because my wife thought otherwise and in the big picture and it was important to her. Sometimes it is as simple as that.

    As I said last time, the people hurt are in this comment thread, before you, that you have read, saying they are hurt. Their feelings matter but you are just. ignoring. them. To rationalize your idea that things shouldn’t change (based entirely on the fact that your wife changed her name? she’s one woman and as everyone else has said, the expectation is harmful).

    Just because your wife made a decision doesn’t mean the negative implications aren’t there. Maybe she was rolling with tradition and I respect the practicality of that but it still sucks. Tradition implies ownership of women. It should be changed, even if there are women out there who don’t want to make that their fight. It’s still right to think about it and try if you want to!

    Stop ignoring all the women here who have explained to you why they care because you don’t want to admit you might be wrong!!!

  457. Iany
    Iany October 14, 2011 at 12:02 am |

    And the men and people of all other genders who have commented with their decisions, thoughts, feelings.

  458. Ismone
    Ismone October 14, 2011 at 12:35 am |

    Sometimes they assume I am married, but when they do, they ask. Oh, so you’re married. And when I say no or no longer–awkward pause. I think most people look for the ring, and that is why they ask.

    As far as the stigma goes, certainly on dating profiles where you have to specify (like Match–and I won’t lie) you get a lot less attention then on ones where you don’t have to (eHarmony, OKCupid). On early dates, I have had men say insensitive things about my divorce, such as “what did I learn from it” or that it was “the elephant in the room.” For someone like me, who was left by a spouse who became severely depressed, which almost certainly came out of severe child abuse, it is kind of frustrating. I understand that people need to know, but the good people ask open ended questions. And usually follow with something to make me feel better, like, oh, my good friend/coworker/brother was divorced, and it was sad that it happened, but a good thing.

    I thought that in the workplace it made my friendships with male colleagues even more suspect–although when I was married, superiors seemed to think it was odd that I was close to some of the men I worked with, too. And I am not a particularly flirtatious woman–some of my coworkers and I have never touched. Like, maybe a handshake. Nor am I super smiley.

    And, of course, there are the stereotypes that divorced women are slutty, bitter, took money from their exes, flaky, cruel, and on and on. *And* if you aren’t super angry at your ex, for whatever reason, some people will take that as a sign that “oh, maybe you’ll get back together someday” which is one of the not-coolest things to say to a divorced person, ever.

  459. miga
    miga October 14, 2011 at 2:25 am |

    I LOVE my last name, and how it fits with the rest of my name. Plus, I plan on being famous someday (or at least well-known), and I promised myself when I was a kid that I’d never change my name like some stars do to seem more marketable. No other last name seems right to me (and what if I were to fall for someone someone with a really unfortunate last name like butt or balls or bushwack!?!?)

    Plus my mom (and many of the moms on my block) are hyphenated-name, so I was raised to see that as a perfectly normal, feminist, decision (even though, as someone pointed out, no matter what you do you’re still submitting to a paternal lineage since your last name is your father’s and your mom’s maiden name was her father’s etc.)
    So I’d decided to keep my name, but reading these posts makes me think that my future spouse and I will both by hyphenates (eg I’d be Spouse-Miga, and ze would be Miga-Spouse)!

  460. llama
    llama October 14, 2011 at 3:52 am |

    miga: So I’d decided to keep my name, but reading these posts makes me think that my future spouse and I will both by hyphenates (eg I’d be Spouse-Miga, and ze would be Miga-Spouse)!

    Or maybe all future spouse candidates will see that as a deal breaker and you wont have a future spouse.

  461. petpluto
    petpluto October 14, 2011 at 4:50 am |

    Angryblackguy:
    But on point, the issue Jill raised was the kardashian husband’s pressing of the point. In marriages, there are always give and take battles like that. The guy wanted her to take his name for tradition. I don’t think that automatically makes him an ogre. Now if he would not relent and made it a make or break issue, he’d be a jerk.

    He’s a jerk, because she’s Kim freaking Kardashian and she makes her living off of the branding of her name. Which is Kim Kardashian. If she changes it, because her husband is into “tradition”, she loses marketing power. Immediately. She brings this up, with a (paraphrased) “Oh, wait, this is how I make my living; my skill sets include the fact that I’m a Kardashian”, and her husband-to-be doesn’t like that as a reason. So, full stop, he’s a jerk. But he’s DOUBLY a jerk because when she has to come up with a reason to satisfy him, it’s only the fact that her father is dead that pushes this over from “outrage!” to “understandable”. Kim Kardashian should be able to keep her name without having to come up with a reason that satisfies the future husband.

    If my guy wants me to change my name (like he did, once upon a time), it shouldn’t matter if my reason for not changing my name meets his standards. The only thing that should matter is whether or not I want to change my name. This isn’t a give and take. This is my name. The second I say, “No dice”, that should be it. And the fact that it’s an expectation that I’m going to change my name, the fact that my guy, his parents, and society writ large expects me to change it, is a Problem. Even if there are women who are going to continue to change their names.

    With recent events in the extended family, the name change thing really crystalized for me as part of the reason people want boy babies. Boy babies carry on the family name. Girl babies? Even if they *scoff* keep their name, it’s going to end with them. That’s a Problem, as well.

  462. Naamah
    Naamah October 14, 2011 at 5:45 am |

    - has anyone here who criticized a man for wanting his fiancé to take his name given the engagement ring (a symbol of unfortunate tradition equivalent to the name) back to the man in outrage?

    - did anyone who criticizes this guy flatly refuse to wear a white or cream wedding dress and go instead with a blue or red dress when walking down the aisle?

    - did anyone with two living parents demand that their mother give them away in marriage? Or better yet have no one give them away?

    I did not change my name.

    I actually gave my husband a ring first, well after we became engaged, one that I made with my own hands. I didn’t get one until the marriage ceremony. It was his high-school graduation ring, and not bought for the ceremony. My family paid for everything but the dress.

    I refused to wear white, to the point that I had to shout “I AM NOT A VIRGIN” at my mother to get her to stop pestering me about it while buying the material for the dress. I thought it was a really gross expectation that I remain a virgin, and asked if she wanted to see the bloody sheet, too. Sadly, the only thing that got her to stop for good was telling her I was going with emerald green because white would make me look fat. WTF?

    I refused to have anyone “give me away,” as I was not property. Nasty.

    I also refused to do the thing where he puts his hand over yours as you cut the cake.

    All of this happened when I was EIGHTEEN. Except for the ring thing. That was when I was fifteen. I am still married to the guy over a decade and a half later.

    These aren’t empty protests. Some of us, even as, basically, kids, are making important decisions based on principles that are very dear to us, and which run clean through us.

    . . . marriage in all of its forms should mean whatever the couple wants it to mean. If it is not sexist or hurtful for a particular couple, I don’t think it is always fair to place our burdens, struggles and hangups on that union. It is theirs to craft as they see fit.

    Particularly where no one is being hurt or degraded.

    I absolutely agree with you. An individual instance, an individual’s relationship, a decision they arrive at together, is absolutely not something that we should judge, as long as nobody truly is being hurt. What we judge is a disturbing trend, a tradition, that people engage in without thinking. It’s made up of small things, small acts, each of which is not necessarily harmful, but whose weight as a whole is considerable.

    Larger systemic oppressions are accompanied by and supported by smaller ones. We cannot and should not reserve our consideration and efforts only for the most egregious abuses. Insisting that we do so is a tactic used to silence us, used by other people to assert control over what is and is not important. These issues are part of the narrative of oppression that is still being woven. The small threads need to be cut, too.

  463. Norma
    Norma October 14, 2011 at 5:53 am |

    Angryblackguy:
    I completely understand how the name tradition strikes you but there are men and women everywhere for whom the notion is completely innocent and different.

    It may be fine/innocent/completely removed from history for you and your wife. But by engaging in the name changing, for whatever motives and with whatever baggage, you’re still perpetuating a tradition that causes harm to other people (see hundreds of comments above).

    Angryblackguy:
    No risk. No reward.

    Come on. Unless your wife has considerably more economic power than you do, you just cannot appreciate how much bigger a risk it is for most women to marry than it is for men, and how mitigating this risk can be really rewarding.

    I recently got married and made a vow to love my husband forever and do not in the least expect to get divorced. My husband is the awesomest person I’ve ever met.

    But FFS, marriage was a big risk for me. My husband makes waaaay more money than I do, and I have a shit ton of debt. Marrying him meant opting out of my grad school’s loan forgiveness program, since married, we can afford to pay the debt off. But if we divorced (soon), “my husband’s” contribution to my debt would be counted against any support he owes me.

    But even if we didn’t have such disparate economic power: I have huge societal expectations to leave work if we have kids; he has none. I’m supposed to change my name to prove that I love him, but if I do I’m no longer easily tied to my accomplishments. I’ve got pressure on me to spend literally hours each day doing housework and the bulk of any childcare; he will never experience that pressure.

    So before we married we saw attorneys; made concrete plans for sharing power and responsibilities; reviewed each other’s finances –all that unromantic, risk-reducing stuff. And it has made marriage so much easier for us, and I imagine more rewarding for us.

  464. Norma
    Norma October 14, 2011 at 5:55 am |

    miga: Plus, I plan on being famous someday (or at least well-known), and I promised myself when I was a kid that I’d never change my name like some stars do to seem more marketable.

    I love this so much.

  465. EG
    EG October 14, 2011 at 8:12 am |

    Marriage is a risk. Divorce is always possible. Sometimes the woman is hurt and sometimes the man is and sometimes both are.

    If we’re talking about broken hearts, then I suppose this is true. But I wasn’t. When we talk about material difficulty, social difficulty, financial difficulty, it is disproportionately women who suffer from the results of divorce; though I haven’t checked these states in some years, I know that, for example, for many, many years, through a chunk of my lifetime at least, standard of living for women drops after divorce, while standard of living for men rises. Then of course there are issues with naming, which are women’s alone.

    But I went into it completely and 100 percent aware of the dangers and risks and I have never looked back. If I get a divorce, I’d be crushed and angry and wished I could change things, etc. but I can’t feel bad about the risk taken because that is part of what makes the commitment real.

    Congratulations. This does not make you special. Almost everybody goes into it thinking that they are “aware of the dangers and risks” and that their commitment is real. And a chunk of those people end up getting divorced anyway. Divorce, for the most part, is not something that happens because your heart was not pure when you got married.

    Your watermelon analogy doesn’t work at all. You say that we who object to the tradition of name-changing shouldn’t assume other women are ignorant (which…happened where?), but then you use as an analogy an interaction between children who were ignorant of the stereotype. The only way this analogy would work would be if adult white men and women who knew the history of the stereotype, routinely put social pressure on black men and women to eat watermelon in public to prove their love.

  466. Medusa
    Medusa October 14, 2011 at 8:37 am |

    Alaina: Amen, sister! I have friends who say “oh, it’ll depend on the situation,” which is really code for “I’m not actually opposed the idea.” My heart hurts a little every time I have that conversation, so I try not bring it up, but so many people I know have gotten married recently, and almost all of the women have changed their name, even when their husband/fiance has disavowed the tradition.

    This. I’ve had to stop bringing it up too, because when I do, the answer is *always* “I’m changing my name” and it’s like a piece of me dies.

  467. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 14, 2011 at 8:46 am |

    Oh noes! So I guess those discussions about shared custody of our dog means we aren’t really serious about this relationship. I guess that life insurance means we’re not really serious about staying alive and that LTD insurance means we’re not really serious about avoiding injuries.

  468. Angel H.
    Angel H. October 14, 2011 at 9:09 am |

    I’m not sure if this has been mentioned before (not going through all 400+ comments) but in some cultures changing the name after marriage can also be class issue. That is, if the bride’s family has more wealth and/or influence, the groom would take her last name.

    Of course, whether the expectation to change one’s name is because of status or because of patrilineage it’s still wrong.

  469. Wow
    Wow October 14, 2011 at 10:12 am |

    So, screw all those years of education, and life experience, and all that. Your identity is toooootally not, you know, a creation of all the things you’ve seen, and done, and read, and experienced, and learned, and succeeded and failed at, and everything else, all shaping who you are over your entire life.

    Nope, your ENTIRE IDENTITY is a collection of letters that follows your first name.

    When you change your name, everything you’ve ever done or seen or learned, that’s helped shape who you are, entirely vanishes, and you are a blank slate, with no true identity, and you are no one. You have to learn all that stuff over again.

    Oh. Wait.

    I find the (ceaseless) argument that surname = entire personal identity to be, frankly, completely ridiculous.

    Your identity is shaped by your life experiences, not your surname.

  470. Norma
    Norma October 14, 2011 at 10:32 am |

    Wow: Your identity is shaped by your life experiences, not your surname.

    Shit, I never thought of that! Hard to believe that everyone here would be making the rather absurd claim that our identity “entirely vanishes” upon a change of name! But of course you read our comments, so you’d know better than I would.

    You know, Wow, it occurs to me now that My Identity is also not determined by my ability to work outside of the home, own property, or vote. My Self does not disappear if my husband can beat me and the police and neighbors won’t care. I’ll still have all my memories of the Babysitters Club and trips to Disneyworld even if I get routinely sexually harassed at work or denied reproductive health care.

    To think I was so worried about this stuff! I am off to star-gaze and build memories of me.

  471. Wow
    Wow October 14, 2011 at 10:37 am |

    Slippery slope arguments? Really? That’s like being against gay marriage because that means everyone will then start marrying wallpaper.

    Also, within the comments, there are quite a few mentions of “losing my entire identity” and the like, over a name change. Also phrases like “dissolving your identity”.

    So yeah, quite a few people are acting as though their entire identity vanishes because of a surname.

  472. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 14, 2011 at 10:43 am |

    Your identity is shaped by your life experiences, not your surname.

    Oh, FFS. No one thinks it’s “ridiculous” or that “your identity is shaped by your experiences” when a woman is berated by her fiancee or friends or family for having the unmitigated gall for wanting to keep her name. If it’s no big deal, again, why don’t the d00ds line up to do this?

    But I see it’s only “ridiculous” and “not a big deal” when it comes to women wanting to keep their names. Otherwise, the baby Jeebus cries.

  473. K
    K October 14, 2011 at 10:48 am |

    I took my husband’s last name for a lot of reasons. First, if we have kids I’d like for all of us to have the same last name. I know that lately last names aren’t a super-important indicator of familial ties (nor am I suggesting they should be), but it just felt more comfortable to me than hyphenating or choosing one of our last names over the other.

    Another reason is that my maiden name (first, middle and last) is one of the most common names in the country, whereas my husband’s last name is only shared by a handful of people. If I ever get published now, I’ll be distinctive.

    The fact that my parents are divorced and no longer share the same last name also made the decision easier. It wasn’t like I was holding onto my own family ties or identity, particularly – just a set of syllables that used to mean something to both of my parents and now only serve to identify one of them.

    My husband actually offered to take my name, or for us to come up with a completely new last name that combined both of ours. I just really liked his name the way it was. If he’d been a pushy little whiner about it, though, I’m sure I would have felt differently.

  474. Nicole
    Nicole October 14, 2011 at 11:52 am |

    My Mom did not changer her name. I never thought much of it, but all my life teachers, new friends, and telemarketers have called her Mrs. (My Dad’s last name), because the automatic assumption is that you will change your name. Honestly, seeing that makes me think that when I do get married I will have a discussion with her, and see if she thought it was worth the hassle to keep her name. I like the idea, but I don’t like the thought of having to correct people for the rest of my life. Maybe I’ll go the hyphenated route? Although that won’t go so well after the first generation…

  475. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm |

    Nicole:
    My Mom did not changer her name. I never thought much of it, but all my life teachers, new friends, and telemarketers have called her Mrs. (My Dad’s last name), because the automatic assumption is that you will change your name. Honestly, seeing that makes me think that when I do get married I will have a discussion with her, and see if she thought it was worth the hassle to keep her name. I like the idea, but I don’t like the thought of having to correct people for the rest of my life. Maybe I’ll go the hyphenated route? Although that won’t go so well after the first generation…

    Well, from my perspective, I don’t correct people. Its annoying that they assume, but they just as often assume my SO is Mr. MyLastName. Seeing him bear it with humor and grace…usually with a shrug and a “Sure why not” has made me bear it with humor…I chuckle at their inability to pronounce his last name whereas mine is easy…if not grace. But then it helps that we each have careers where we are relatively known so our individual identities are not lost in the shuffle.

  476. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm |

    Your identity is toooootally not, you know, a creation of all the things you’ve seen, and done, and read, and experienced, and learned, and succeeded and failed at, and everything else, all shaping who you are over your entire life.

    Lol! Yeah, but my last name was present and often involved in all those things, too — I’ve had my last name on everything I’ve “done and learned and succeeded at” because stuff like childhood artwork and news clippings and diplomas and passports all include it, and they are part of my identity. (Not to mention one’s name as an important indicator of one’s legal identity, where sadly they haven’t found a way to indicate people by the sum of their experiences on paper yet.)

  477. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 14, 2011 at 12:31 pm |

    Honestly, seeing that makes me think that when I do get married I will have a discussion with her, and see if she thought it was worth the hassle to keep her name. I like the idea, but I don’t like the thought of having to correct people for the rest of my life.

    My friend’s parents are Dr. Friendparent and Mr. Friendparent, as the mom has a Ph.D. and the dad does not, but strangers insist on assuming that it’s “Dr. Friendparent and Mrs. Friendparent” because they assume the dad is the doctor. This sort of confusion and subsequent correcting happens a lot, but it doesn’t mean one shouldn’t pursue higher education as a woman, does it? Hasslers gonna hassle; I’m not sure it’s avoidable, so do what you think is right regardless.

  478. Wow
    Wow October 14, 2011 at 12:38 pm |

    Well, Bagelsan, it’s more like, I don’t define myself by what I’m called. I define myself by who I am. The things I think, the things I say, all of that has been shaped by the experiences of my life, not what I’ve been called during it.

  479. Esti
    Esti October 14, 2011 at 12:51 pm |

    Bagelsan: My friend’s parents are Dr. Friendparent and Mr. Friendparent, as the mom has a Ph.D. and the dad does not, but strangers insist on assuming that it’s “Dr. Friendparent and Mrs. Friendparent” because they assume the dad is the doctor. This sort of confusion and subsequent correcting happens a lot, but it doesn’t mean one shouldn’t pursue higher education as a woman, does it? Hasslers gonna hassle; I’m not sure it’s avoidable, so do what you think is right regardless.

    One of my very favorite stories about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s late husband, Martin, was that he kept posted on his office door an invitation misaddressed to “Justice and Mrs. Marty Ginsburg” (yes, even when you are a SUPREME COURT JUSTICE people assume that it must actually be your husband who was appointed to the Court).

    And although it’s not at all on topic, this obituary is a beautiful read about their marriage: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/27/AR2010062703220.html

    My favorite part: “As a general rule,” Mr. Ginsburg told the New York Times in 1997, “my wife does not give me any advice about cooking, and I do not give her advice about the law. This seems to work quite well on both sides.”

  480. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date October 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm |

    I never thought much of it, but all my life teachers, new friends, and telemarketers have called her Mrs. (My Dad’s last name), because the automatic assumption is that you will change your name. Honestly, seeing that makes me think that when I do get married I will have a discussion with her, and see if she thought it was worth the hassle to keep her name.

    “Actually, my name is Ms. [Mylastname].” Done.

  481. chingona
    chingona October 14, 2011 at 1:15 pm |

    How much of a hassle it is to correct people depends on how much you care if people get it wrong. I don’t bother to correct my husband’s more distant relatives. I don’t see them much, it’s even rarer that I get mail from them, and they’ll be dead soon anyway.

    I half think it’s cute when I get mail that is hyphenated – like they’re trying to do the right and just cannot fathom that his name isn’t attached to me somewhere.

    I also find it amusing that my family – including all the men who would have been upset if their wives hadn’t taken their name – has no problem remembering that I kept my name. Family bonds winning out over patriarchy!

    At my work, everyone knows me by my name and most people have no idea whether it’s the name I’ve always had or the name I took at marriage. It’s not like I’m branded on the forehead “KEPT HER NAME.”

    There also are advantages to the confusion. When telemarketers call and I tell them my husband isn’t available, they always ask for “Mrs. HisLastName.” I tell them there’s no one here by that name, and it’s true.

  482. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 14, 2011 at 2:03 pm |

    Wow, why don’t you save this lecture for the men (and women) who get terribly defensive when women don’t want to/don’t intend to change their names after marriage? I mean, since it’s ridiculous and means nothing and besides which, your identity isn’t caught up in a name. . .certainly, a man’s identity shouldn’t be caught up in his wife’s name, and it should be easy for him to take her last name on. Right?

    Ohhh! I see. You’d rather scold women who get pushback for wanting to keep our names as being ridiculous. Join the fucking club, you special snowflake, you.

  483. Wow
    Wow October 14, 2011 at 2:16 pm |

    Riiiiight.

    Or, I’m taking the comments of the people who act as though everything about who they are and stand for is tied up in a surname, and pointing out that it’s not.

    I do enjoy that you take that simple statement, and throw in an entire barrel of assumptions that are based on nothing more than reactionary, knee-jerk fabrications of your own mind, and not on anything that’s been said.

    At no point did I “scold women”. Get a grip. All I did was point out the fact that a person’s identity is not their name. Your name is what you’re called. Not who you are.

  484. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm |

    Riiiight.

    You only coincidentally yelp and screech and holler at women who are uncomfortable with the status quo, and don’t bother to aim the lecture at the men who get terribly offended at the very idea of this, and then whine that I’m making assumptions about you based on your behavior and your words.

    I mean, I’m not seeing this lecture aimed at men who refuse to change their names to their wives names. I’m not seeing this hectoring aimed at the people here who have gotten so very defensive at the very idea of women wanting to keep their birth names.

    You’re coming across as quite the scold, actually. And it’s not like any of us haven’t heard these arguments trotted out, oh, 100,000 times already. Oddly enough, the “your identity isn’t your name” “it isn’t a big deal” and “what about family unity/kids” all go right out the window when it’s suggested that a man change his name to his wife’s name.

  485. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm |

    Also? Considering the fact that a name change can and does have serious ramifications for people (women) professionally, it’s rather ignorant for you to dismiss the concerns of women who feel their identity is being erased or diminished as “ridiculous.”

  486. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil October 14, 2011 at 3:15 pm |

    When telemarketers call and I tell them my husband isn’t available, they always ask for “Mrs. HisLastName.” I tell them there’s no one here by that name, and it’s true.

    My parents pull this one all the time. 30 years of marriage and my Dad still smirks when he does it.

    I’m taking the comments of the people who act as though everything about who they are and stand for is tied up in a surname, and pointing out that it’s not.

    Have you grown up with the cultural expectation that when you get married you’ll just change your name? Had people harangue you for not changing your name when you got married? No? Then stop.

  487. EG
    EG October 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm |

    I define myself by who I am.

    That’s nice. When I want to indicate that person who I am, such as when I sign documents or letters, or publications, or pieces of art, or register for something, or anything else, I use my name. I find it a convenient shorthand for describing who I am. When other people wish to refer to me, professionally, legally, or personally, they use…my name.

    I mean, your sense of yourself is nice and touchy-feely, but in our society the signifier of one’s identity is one’s name. Ain’t nobody reading a short story of mine, thinking ‘hey, that was great, I wonder if I can find any more stories by ‘that Jewish feminist woman who lives in New York City with a strong interest in fairy tales and likes chocolate and is really good with babies and small children and has a close relationship with her mother and and and…’”

  488. igglanova
    igglanova October 14, 2011 at 3:43 pm |

    If names were so meaningless then why the fuck did the name-taking custom come about in the first place?

  489. Wow
    Wow October 14, 2011 at 5:20 pm |

    Well, Sheelzebub, I don’t see any men here saying their entire identity is wrapped up in what they’re called. If I did, I’d tell them the same thing.

    Also, please point to me where I said “What about family unity/kids” and “It isn’t a big deal”. Oh, right, right. You can’t. Because I didn’t. You’re just attributing things to me that weren’t said.

    My point stands. If all the experiences of your life that have made you who you are, are “erased” by you being called something different, then you have a very fragile sense of self, and that’s not my fault.

    My surname is something I sign to documents of an official nature. Otherwise, I almost never use it. Nobody calls me by it. It exists for signatures. That’s it. Everyone knows me by my first name, which, given that it’s nick-nameable, is also rather malleable. I don’t have my entire identity wrapped up in either version of the first name I go by, either.

    Just for fun, if one party refuses to change their name, you then have no right to be offended that the other party refuses to change theirs. Good for the goose, good for the gander, really.

    FashionablyEvil, your statement to me doesn’t really make sense. An expectation you’ll change your name doesn’t really affect the fact that your name is not who you are. Who you are is formed from your sum total of life experiences, and the ideas that have shaped your personality. Not the name attached to them.

    EG, I’d go ahead and bet there’s at least 5000+ other people with your exact same name. When I search my name online, I can find multiple thousands of people with all three of my names, identical. That’s a poor measure of defining who you are, if someone else can so easily be the exact same, by name.

    No one has yet really addressed my original point. Addressed around it, sure. The actual point, not so much. If your name were suddenly Moon Unit Spacealien Lightsaber, would all the things you’ve seen, done, experienced, learned, and formed opinions on be different? I posit that they would not. Ergo, who you are has remained unchanged.

    If I changed my name to Darth Vader, outside of the raised eyebrows I’d get signing a document, nothing about my SELF would have changed.

  490. EG
    EG October 14, 2011 at 6:59 pm |

    You’d lose that bet, actually, and I hope you’d bet something big, because man, do I need the money. Googling my surname alone reveals almost nobody who is not in my immediate family. You get my mother, father, and sister. Sometimes you get my grandparents’ obituaries. Once, memorably, I got an ebay listing of a photo taken of my grandfather’s older brother in the 1960s, which I promptly bought, and just as promptly mislaid.

    And I did address your point. I designate my identity through my name. The story of my name is part of the story of how I came to be–how my parents chose my first and middle names, the origin of my surname. You kind of proved your own point by bringing up google. You may get doubles of yourself if you have a common name, but if you google a physical description and some memories, you won’t get anything at all.

    Further, no, I don’t think I’d be the same person at all if I had a different name. I’d be some bizarre person who wanted to be called Spacealien Moonunit Lightsaber. That is definitively not me.

  491. EG
    EG October 14, 2011 at 7:17 pm |

    Hah. I can’t believe it took this long for this thread to remind me of this, but a few weeks ago I got an email from a woman I’d never heard of. She seemed nice enough, and she was trying to track down her college roommate from her freshman year. She couldn’t find her, no matter what she did. I didn’t look much like her roommate, she said, but I had the same distinctive last name. Was I, by any chance, related, and would it be possible for me to put her in touch with her freshman year college roommate, whose name was BG?

    I forwarded the email along to my aunt who, of course, had married a few years after college, and taken her husband’s last name.

    The point is this: nobody searching for my uncle would have had the same problem. His name is not uncommon, so they would have had to sift through too many responses, but provided they knew the kind of things that one’s freshman year roommate could be expected to know–where he went to college, for example, and the year he probably graduated, and maybe where he was from–they would have been able to track him down without emailing his niece out of the blue. My aunt’s identity had, effectively, been erased and rebooted in her twenties, in terms of how and whether people identified her.

    To follow on the Spacealien Moonunit Lightsaber thing, if my name was suddenly changed to that, I would, over the next few years, have experiences far different from what I would have with my actual name. Aside from nobody being able to hook me up with my professional and educational accomplishments, people would have very different reactions to meeting me. My ethnic identity would be erased. Questions about my name would be entirely different than they are now. Within a few years, I would be quite a different person, if we say that identity is based on experiences and memories, than I would be if I had gone through those years with my own name.

  492. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 14, 2011 at 7:22 pm |

    Wow: At no point did I “scold women”. Get a grip.

    Did you seriously just scold a woman right after saying you’ve never scolded a woman on this thread? Awesome. Continue. More entertainment please.

  493. Ismone
    Ismone October 14, 2011 at 7:46 pm |

    Wow,

    My identity is not my name. But my name is how other people, who I work with professionally, and who are contacts, remember the person attached to that identity. I need to be findable, and I am damn proud of my accomplishments and made a lot of connections. No one could find me by searching for my first name, it isn’t that rare.

    ABG,

    You did not previously say “to each their own” to me. You lectured me about my unfitness for marriage based on the fact I was divorced. You even seem to assume that my divorce is “baggage.”

    So, yeah, proving my point. Thanks. For reasons the others have stated, the watermelon analogy does not apply. The reason name changing for women is a problem is because the reverse is not commonplace. Women are still changing their names because of sexist expectations, the baggage has not been lost.

  494. llama
    llama October 14, 2011 at 8:35 pm |

    My wife changed her name to match mine.

    I now know it was because she had been married beforehand and changed her name then, at the time she ‘forgot’ to mention she had been married before.

    If she had mentioned it we could have had a discussion and she could have picked whatever she felt like, although I am not sure I would have liked our kids having another mans surname. So probably I wouldn’t have liked her retaining her previous married name.

  495. llama
    llama October 14, 2011 at 8:54 pm |

    See post #324 :)

  496. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 14, 2011 at 9:14 pm |

    Wow: I’d go ahead and bet there’s at least 5000+ other people with your exact same name. When I search my name online, I can find multiple thousands of people with all three of my names, identical. That’s a poor measure of defining who you are, if someone else can so easily be the exact same, by name.

    Well, there are at least 5,000 people with my name. In fact when I was in grad school there was a woman with my first, middle and last name…so what? When my clients need help they don’t call the blonde woman who likes children and pets or the short attorney who snorts when she laughs and they certainly don’t call the chick who has been known to tear up at a Hallmark commercial.

    My name is a signifier of my professional persona. Its branding if you like. And I’ve worked very, very hard to cultivate that brand. I’m even considered an expert in a very small, specialized area of the law. All that work, the law reviews, the client recommendations, the interviews, the last 8 years would go up in smoke if people couldn’t find me by my very common name.

  497. EG
    EG October 14, 2011 at 9:31 pm |

    When my clients need help they don’t call the blonde woman who likes children and pets or the short attorney who snorts when she laughs and they certainly don’t call the chick who has been known to tear up at a Hallmark commercial.

    Kristen J., you sound completely awesome!

  498. Rachel
    Rachel October 14, 2011 at 10:19 pm |

    Auguste: My high school principal, marrying at age 60 or thereabouts, and his fiance decided that they would both take the name “Valjean.” It was pretty fantastic, in hindsight.

    thats freaking awesome!!!!

  499. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley October 14, 2011 at 11:41 pm |

    llama: future spou

    Wow that was unnecessary.

  500. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan October 15, 2011 at 12:16 am |

    I will also say that my first name is quite common, and is effectively anonymous, so I’ve always had my last name or initial be part of my name even as a kid. My first name is me, and obviously I respond to it and like it, but it was just chosen to be a nice name; my middle and last names are family names with a rich history and ethnicity and stories behind them, and losing either of them would legitimately be losing a chunk of my family history.

    My family also likes to laugh about our shared traits: “ha, you’re such a Lastname!” or “geez, what a truly Lastname thing to do” or “sigh, you can count on us Lastnames to do something like that” so yes my actual name is inseparable from my memories and experiences and identity.

    Women can have a deep pride in their family name just like men can, even if people like to say “oh but it’s just your dad’s name!” — yeah, I know, and I’m fucking proud of my dad’s name! I want to pass it on, and bring people into my family. Also there is only one boy in my generation, so if any of those family names will be passed on likely a woman will have to do it; might as well be me.

  501. Amelia ze lurker
    Amelia ze lurker October 15, 2011 at 1:51 am |

    Amen to OP! I know some guys who pressured their wives to change their names, and they are supposedly SUPER nice guys, and I’m like, “Yeah, except for THAT. I still am judging the hell out of them.” I have no respect for people who would pressure someone they care about to change something as important as their damn name. It would be a deal breaker for me, honestly, if a guy cared that much.

    I read a column once where a guy was whining about how he dated a woman who mentioned she wouldn’t want to change her name, and how that was an immediate dealbreaker for him. How someone wanting to not subsume their identity into his, was a dealbreaker. My immediate thought was, “I have great news for you, pal! Now that you’ve published this column, you will never have to date any of those uppity ‘I want to keep my name’ woman EVER AGAIN!”

  502. Amelia ze lurker
    Amelia ze lurker October 15, 2011 at 1:59 am |

    Oh, also, while I understand that “excuses” for keeping one’s name may be a good tool for pushing acceptance until it becomes mainstream, it still really bothers me when so many women who keep their names use the justification “Oh, I’m a professional/I’m known in my field/all of my accomplishments are under my name” (or, for celebrities, “It’s a brand”). It shouldn’t matter! Even if you didn’t have a single thing to your name—even if you didn’t have any of those things—education, recognition in your field (some of which are things that go with privilege as well!)—you still have just as a right to keep your name. Your name is worth something even if you aren’t “accomplished.”

  503. Amelia ze lurker
    Amelia ze lurker October 15, 2011 at 2:34 am |

    This is just…just the greatest thing. Now I want to do this. Except it’s been done.

    How about another 19th-century-French-Vidocq-inspired Toulon alum (note: the bagne of Toulon is not a school)? I guess I could do Vautrin. It might be kind of weird for a hetero couple, though…Vautrin was not only exclusively gay, but also pretty misogynistic.

    Maybe we could just straight up do Vidocq. Or Javert, and then have dinner with the Valjeans? And we could be like, “Okay, if you can’t make it this time, I guess we’ll just have to CATCH you later ha ha ha”

    /ramble over

    Auguste:
    My high school principal, marrying at age 60 or thereabouts, and his fiance decided that they would both take the name “Valjean.” It was pretty fantastic, in hindsight.

  504. Amelia ze lurker
    Amelia ze lurker October 15, 2011 at 2:44 am |

    Yeah, it’s really annoying when people make those assumptions. I guess it’s good preparation for when you actually do it (doing it being NOT doing it, that is). At least for someone like me, who never even considered changing her name. Like, I briefly dated a guy in high school and his homeroom teacher (who was not mine; I was just skipping homeroom because, you know, it’s homeroom, what are you going to miss, exactly?) caught us making out in the hallway and dragged him inside, and then I came in with him for some reason, which I probably shouldn’t have, and the homeroom teacher (in the most blasé way possible, like this was the most normal thing in the world) takes out a piece of paper and a marker and asks me my name, which I give, and he proceeds to write my name followed by the guy’s last name, and then shows it to me. Not only was that weird as hell, it was also offensive. I was like, “Uh, that’s nice, but I’m not sure how it’s relevant? Because we’re not getting married, and also, I don’t plan on changing my name if and when I do?” The guy said nothing, because a) he wasn’t much of a talker and b) this was really awkward.

    MadGastronomer:
    Not only was I not ever willing to change my name if I married a man (although I was willing to consider adding another last name if I married a woman; now that I’m planning on the latter, we’ve talked about it, and we probably won’t bother), but I discovered that in my state, you can’t change the name on a property deed. I’d have to sell my house to myself to get my wallet name on the title. No fucking way is this ever worth even the possibility of the hassle.

    Anyway, while my dad pisses me off and I can’t stand his family, I like my name. That alone would be reason enough to keep it.

    I once had a brief fling with the same last name as mine (it’s a very common name), and one of his friends said, “If you got married, you wouldn’t even have to change your name!” I gave him the side-eye and said, “I don’t have to change my name no matter who I marry.” He spluttered at me.

  505. Amelia ze lurker
    Amelia ze lurker October 15, 2011 at 2:54 am |

    For what it’s worth, I am extremely anti-circumcision.

    llama:
    Personally, I think if all things are equal then do your own thing, change or not change makes no difference.

    However, I wonder how many of the women that don’t think tradition is a good reason for changing names after marriage then use tradition to support other decisions?

    I have seen this exact thing happen whilst tradition was no reason for a name change it was enough to support circumcision of offspring.

  506. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 15, 2011 at 2:59 am |

    EG: Kristen J., you sound completely awesome!

    Ahhh…thanks. I feel all warm and fuzzy now.

  507. chava
    chava October 15, 2011 at 5:36 am |

    Why do women have to validate their dislike of any particular misogynist choice by repudiating another choice you happen not to like?

    This is the same stuff ABG was tossing out, just with foreskins instead of diamonds and white dresses.

    llama ze lurker:
    However, I wonder how many of the women that don’t think tradition is a good reason for changing names after marriage then use tradition to support other decisions?

    I have seen this exact thing happen whilst tradition was no reason for a name change it was enough to support circumcision of offspring.

  508. EG
    EG October 15, 2011 at 5:57 am |

    Well, you know, Chava. Women should never just focus on their own concerns and issues, not even for a minute in a comment thread on a blog dedicated to feminist issues. That would be selfish.

  509. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 15, 2011 at 6:09 am |

    Well, Sheelzebub, I don’t see any men here saying their entire identity is wrapped up in what they’re called. If I did, I’d tell them the same thing.

    They don’t have to, because they can take for granted that they are not expected to change their names after marriage, and they do not get shit from people for wanting to keep their birth names. If anything, many expect their future wives to take their names and get pissy when they find out their future wives would rather not–their identity is not only wrapped up in their names, but their future wives names. Yet you never addressed that (which is what the OP was about).

    Also, please point to me where I said “What about family unity/kids” and “It isn’t a big deal”. Oh, right, right. You can’t. Because I didn’t. You’re just attributing things to me that weren’t said.

    Actually, had you bothered to read what I posted, you would have seen that I said you were part of the trolling peanut gallery who trotted out some argument they thought was brand new but that we’d heard it all before. Including your little nugget. Reading comprehension, it is useful.

    And people did address your original point. They didn’t agree with it and thought it was weak. Lack of agreement /= argue around your point, but nice try.

  510. llama
    llama October 15, 2011 at 9:49 am |

    chava: chava 10.15.2011 at 5:36 am

    Why do women have to validate their dislike of any particular misogynist choice by repudiating another choice you happen not to like?

    This is the same stuff ABG was tossing out, just with foreskins instead of diamonds and white dresses.

    The case I was thinking of was a female circumcision. Now reported to the police.

    Perhaps if I had said ‘genital mutilation’ you would have thought female rather than male?

  511. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil October 15, 2011 at 9:49 am |

    FashionablyEvil, your statement to me doesn’t really make sense. An expectation you’ll change your name doesn’t really affect the fact that your name is not who you are. Who you are is formed from your sum total of life experiences, and the ideas that have shaped your personality. Not the name attached to them.

    I mean, it’s nice for you that your name doesn’t matter. Mine matters to me. Like Jill, I have never found anyone who shares my name, and I resent the fact that I was expected to change it and then harassed for not doing so.

    I am getting really tired of the