The last few days, maybe even the last week, a certain topic has been hitting me over the head and yelling “talk about me! Talk about me!” I’ve been ignoring it because if you know me either IRL or on this blog, you can pretty much guess my opinions on most of it. However, since it insists on being shared, and because
I’m nosy I want to know what you think, let’s discuss this two part topic!
I’m not sure if I mentioned it, but our receptionist recently got married. She went to Sandals in Jamaica (I think), got a nice tan, collected mucho dinero and some nice swag at the reception…then came back to chaos. I’m not just talking about the usual “first day back to work chaos,” either. I’m talking about the “holy crap! I have no identity right now” chaos.
One of the pain in the butt things about being a woman and getting married could be changing your name (I’m only saying could be because some women are now of a mind NOT to change their names. I want to represent all choices here, at least before I give my opinions). It’s like you’re between identities. You are no long Miss You, but you aren’t Mrs. Him either, legally speaking. At this point, you can’t access the joint account (or in many cases open it), can’t get a new driver’s license, need a new social security card, need to change all of your professional materials (voicemail, business cards, name plate, etc.), and change all of your documentation for things that has your old name (car insurance). On top of this, she has to change her health insurance parameters (seeing as at least THEY still consider marriage a major life event) and W-2 forms, not to mention if you work here: adding your husband to your FREE HEALTH CARE, dental care, discounted corporate gym membership, and discounted AAA membership. You may be combining car insurance, phone plans, and bills. But you can’t really accomplish most of this name swapping and combining until you get your name changed with…the social security office.
Of course, you have the option nowadays not to change your name. Many women choose not to change their name because they’ve “made a name for themselves” in their chosen profession (or they hyphenate it), they like their ancestral name, they are their father’s only child, or they find the practice archaic and sexist. After all, men don’t have to go through all of these changes, right?
When I worked at …a clothing store (I could name it. I think they’re great and I loved working there, but I don’t give free endorsements! :D), we had a problem with the store credit cards. They wanted to get the older women to open up their own store credit cards instead of using their husband’s. Well, first of all, I am in the South, and second of all, these women are OLD. They haven’t used their name in years. Many don’t have any credit and have never worked. Everything is their husbands. They aren’t merely Mrs. Jane Herman (her man…see what I did there? LOL); they are Mrs. Joe Herman. They can’t understand why they can’t use his card that they’ve been using for years. They are one, aren’t they?
Now, I’m not going to go as far and say that I would be Mrs. A.P. Perfect, but I will be Mrs. 2blu 2b Perfect, if it comes to being married. I’ve never claimed to be a feminist; in fact, I most certainly am NOT a feminist (come and take my “woman card” now, if you must). I see no reason to keep my name in the first place, and believe it symbolizes more than just a name in the second.
First, I have no attachment to being a Tru. Tru is my father’s family name (who is, shocker of shockers, a man). It’s always been a man’s name, passed down from man to child from generations innumerable. The only time it was any different was when we were slaves and had to take the master’s name (which is getting to the root of this problem for many women, right?). Since I haven’t done anything special with the name, there’s no reason for me to keep it. It’s not merely tradition for me; it’s the establishment of a family, of being one with another person. Since my religious beliefs clearly affirm the man as the head of the family, I should take his name to be a part of his family. Our kids should have our name (but that’s hoeing a whole other row).
But let’s talk about this master’s name thing I alluded to. Many women don’t want to take their husband’s name because it implies ownership to them. They want to be independent, an individual, not seen as property to be owned. They want to be seen as equals. Well, in my opinion, you aren’t equal. You aren’t an independent individual any more, either. You can’t possibly be. Each person has things that they bring to the relationship, abilities and skills that they have that will contribute to the whole. If you have all your partner has, nothing more and nothing less, if you are truly equal, why does he/she need you? That’s not to say that you are less than, but the two of you are not equal.
It’s equally as silly to think you are independent. You are now part of an interdependent unit. You both have to contribute your share to the whole, or it doesn’t function. This is not to say that you will no longer have your own individual pursuits, feelings, likes, dislikes, and so on; it’s to say that you shouldn’t be thinking only of yourself and what you want and need anymore.
I don’t see the taking of the name as being a sign of ownership. You don’t accept ownership; you are bought and this is your owner. Yet, you wouldn’t be married if you hadn’t said yes, not once, but twice. You chose this person as much as he chose you. You haven’t been purchased or taken over by your husband; you have joined him.
At the end of the day, the last name I have now was given to me by my father. It symbolizes his family and his tradition, of which I am a part. However, it doesn’t negate the many women in his lineage who told the name, nor does it negate the heritage and traditions I have from my mother. By changing my name, I’m switching teams, if you will, from the family that sheltered me to adulthood, into the family I’m creating with my life partner. To me, that’s worth a few hours at the Social Security office and a mountain of paperwork.
And you can bet my new name will be on OUR accounts and cards. 😀
At least, that’s my two cents. Add in your two cents: How do you feel about women changing their name? Did you take your husband’s name/Did your wife take your name? Will you take his name/Do you expect your wife to take your name? What’s the point of changing the name? Is it just an archaic patriarchal construct used to relegate women to the status of property?
Part 2 tomorrow–the ring discussion…stay tuned!
- As Times Change Women Learn to Leverage Life Insurance Ownership (retirementmoney.wordpress.com)
- Marriage Mayhem: Do I Change My Name? (abcnews.go.com)
- After “I Do” – Changes (weddingbee.com)
- Changing your name doesn’t make you a feminist traitor (thepunch.com.au)
- Let’s Uplift Black Marriage, For a Change (theroot.com)