Saturday, April 28, 2012

[A] The Last Name Project

In this new series co-hosted by from two to one and The Feminist Mystique, we will be profiling an array of individuals and couples about their last name decisions upon marriage or what they expect to choose if they marry. The goal is to explore how individuals make decisions about their last name, and to highlight the many possibilities. We will be posting profiles periodically and encourage you to stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  If you would like to participate in this series, email Danielle at danielle [at] fromtwotoone [dot] com or Shannon at hill [dot] shannonp [at] gmail [dot] com. 

The following post is from A, who lives in the USA.

I married at the end of 2008, but didn’t get around to changing my surname until the following February. I did a lot of waffling about my last name, but in the end I felt confident with my choice to change it. My husband didn’t participate in my decision—he just let me make my choice. (Although he now thinks that it would have been cool to pick a new name for ourselves if we had thought about it at the time!) I was also very lucky that my career had no bearing on my choice; I was just starting out and there was never any pressure about what to call myself after I was married.

My primary reason for wanting to change my last name upon marriage stems from my family situation:  my father is a misogynist and has been since I can remember. All he ever wanted was a son; instead he got 4 daughters. As a kid I had heard him bemoan his status as “the last Doe*” because he was an only son who had no sons of his own; it was like we girls weren’t “Doe*” enough to continue the legacy or the name because we weren’t boys, no matter how smart or wonderful or successful we were in our own rights. Although I toyed with the idea of hyphenation (ditching my “tag” of 23 years wasn’t entirely painless, regardless of my strong motivations for wanting to change it), I ultimately changed my last name completely because I wanted to be free of that patriarchal connection to my father—a connection to which I never consented in the first place, since his name had been assigned to me at birth. I didn’t want to share a last name with a bitter man who frankly doesn’t deserve his wonderful daughters. I don’t think that I would have come to my conclusion if I had not discovered feminism and my passion for women’s equality; my feminism helped me to confront the ugly truth about my father’s character and I was able to make a decision that was right for me. I chose to take the last name of my husband’s family in the end; they had never shown me anything but kindness and acceptance and love and legally taking the last name of people I had come to love in return felt…right.

*Name changed for the sake of anonymity

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