Tuesday, May 8, 2012
[Bridget] 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 by Bridget, a writer, theater artist, and massage therapist. She lives in Louisiana with her husband David and their son, Anton. She blogs about veganism, feminism, books, motherhood and the artistic life at http://spaceshipnola.blogspot.com/.
In my last semester of college, I began to go by my first and middle name only (Bridget Erin) for all of my artistic endeavors. This idea came from my aunt, who suggested I use Bridget Erin as a “stage name” that would never need to be changed, even if I got married and changed my official last name. It appealed to me originally because it was a time of great personal transformation – I was becoming an adult, graduating from college, moving to a new city, and establishing myself as an artist. Over the years, I began to see it also as a way to opt out of the patriarchal baggage of last names altogether. It felt freeing – even if the feminist implications of my chosen name were only apparent to me. On paper, nothing changed. But over the years, the majority of people in my life came to know me as Bridget Erin. Many of them assume Erin is my last name.
I didn’t change my name immediately after marrying my husband. It was a busy time – I gave birth to our son just one month after our wedding! I originally planned to change my last name to his, since our son had his last name, and because I was still going by Bridget Erin in my artistic life and consequently decided I wasn’t too attached to my “official” last name. But during this time I read a long an interesting discussion on the blog Feministe about women changing their last names, and I began to have second thoughts.
My husband did not have strong feelings on the matter. His mother kept her original name for many, many years, changing it to his father’s name only very recently. Incidentally, my husband grew up in the USSR and changed his first name to David after moving to the U.S.
In the end, I decided to hyphenate. It felt like a way to embrace both my origins and my new family. This makes my last name long, unwieldy, and an odd combination of Irish and Jewish. I like it. But to my friends, I’m still Bridget Erin.