It’s wedding season here, and while I’m not attending any this year (my close friends aren’t really the “marrying type,” it would seem), there’s a lot of crazy new last names popping up in my facebook news feed.
I know it’s a touchy subject, but it really surprises me to see so many women my age wholeheartedly snap up their new husbands’ last names with nary a hyphen in sight. Now, I owe it to these ladies to assume that they probably had some kind of thought process about the change, weighing the pros and cons, and maybe even threw around some wacky ideas like him taking her name… but they’re still all going for the full switch.
Personally, I could never imagine changing my last name. Due to the women in my family being a bunch of Amazon-esque man-shunners, I’m the third generation female to carry my last name, and my middle name is my great-grandmother’s maiden name. I identify with my name, and I just don’t think I could ever get used to a different one – plus why shouldn’t Eric take my last name if we were to get married, especially since I’m an only child and he has two siblings to carry the torch? Plus let’s not forget the most important reason – I locked in a good gmail address early, and if I wanted to change my name I’d be stuck with email@example.com or some other impossible-to-say-over-the-phone garbage.
We had a big discussion about it in my french class last year. Fun side note: language training is great practice for diplomacy because you run out of “safe” topics really fast and spend the rest of the year locked in a room with the same few people debating religion, politics, feminism, the environment, and the space problem – and you rarely agree with any of them. Anyways, the argument coming from some of the more… socially conservative, let’s say… corners of the room was that everyone does it, so it’s stupid not to change your name (if you’re a woman), and men changing their names would just confuse everybody and be dumb, and THINK OF THE CHILDREN!
Now, as someone who will never ever change her last name, and who will hyphenate the last names of any future children she has, this argument offends me. Not because I care what those people think about my hypothetical kids’ hyphenated last name – I don’t really care if the odd person finds it a little confusing. But the line that’s always trotted out with a smirk is, “sure that will work – until your kid grows up and wants to marry someone with a hyphenated last name. THEN WHAT?!” Then they stand back and wait for me to admit that they’re right… which obviously I never do, because I’m ardently stubborn.
I have a hunch that by the time any kid I have is old enough to get married, they’ll also be intelligent enough to raise the issue with their partner and decide for themselves what they want to do about their names, or the names of their children, if they choose to have any. Now, I’m already practicing my pie-baking and knitting, so I hope that one day I can be a grandma, because I think I’ll be a cool one. But I don’t really care if my grandchild is named Raven Thomson-King-McSmorgasbord-Li, because I’m not going to write their last name on their birthday cake, and beyond that it’s not my problem.
At the end of the day, you aren’t a terrible feminist if you change your name, and you aren’t an uncommitted hippie if you keep it, and you’re probably only a little weird if the two of you make up a wacky new last name (kidding – that’s my favourite option, but Eric’s not into it, even though we could totally be the Starpower family). It just surprises me when so many women still choose the same old thing, even when we have all these alternatives.