Tuesday, June 12, 2012

[Ginny] 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 Ginny, a novelist and educator currently working on a master's of education in human sexuality. She, her husband, and several others blog about relationships, sexuality, atheism, and skepticism at http://polyskeptic.com.

My last name is Brown, and my husband's is McGonigal. I grew up assuming that I would take my husband's name when I married, and not minding the idea much... although I like the overall sound of my name, Brown is so common as to be boring. However, I also grew up assuming I'd always adhere to the mildly patriarchal values I was taught, and that I'd be married in my early 20s rather than my early 30s.

My husband and I are unconventional and egalitarian in a number of ways. It's likely that he will be the one to stay home with any children we have. We are also polyamorous, which means that we are open to developing loving relationships with other people, always with full disclosure, lots of discussion, and attention to each others' needs before anything else. Largely because of this, because there's the possibility that we may want to add other adults to our family someday, and because we're both in our 30s and very used to our own names, we decided to keep our names unchanged. We considered adding each others' names as second middle names, and we may someday do that if motivated, but at this time the paperwork doesn't seem worth it.

Following the example of some friends of ours, we have a portmanteau name that we use in informal social contexts. So we're still able to say "the McBrownigals wish you a merry Christmas," even though it's not anyone's legal name. It's a solution we're quite happy with... we considered actually changing our name to McBrownigal, but I felt it sounded a bit silly for publishing papers under.

Our plan for any children we have is to give them both our names, one as the last name and one as a second middle name. Which order we use will depend on how each name sounds with the first names we like, and (if we have a son) how much we want to avoid upsetting my father-in-law, who feels strongly about passing down his name.

6 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree with you more. You're last paragraph made me chuckle. The sentiment of passing down a last name is funny to me, especially for those men whose last name might be a very common one...like Smith, Jones or in my Gonzalez.

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    1. My husband and I both changed our names to a new one we chose. Only his Aunt was really upset that he gave up the family name - Smith! Which wasn't even Smith about 2 generations ago. Made me chuckle a bit.

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  2. I love this! As someone with two middle names, though, I would advise against it. For a long time, it made paperwork complicated, since there's usually only room for one middle initial. (So, some records had one initial, some had another, and still others had both!) I don't ever actually use my other, proper middle name – my parents' last names are more than enough.

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  3. Changing names is a pretty difficult legal issue to deal with. Just like what Elaine R. said, the paperwork can be complicated, particularly when you have to deal with your Title Deeds. When you change your name, everything that is in your previous name would have to be changed. If you want this matter to be settled quickly and legally, you will need to have an attorney, someone who’s had experience dealing with changing names and property titles and such.

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    1. A woman has to change all her paperwork though after marriage doesn't she? Well you don't have to but it'd be incredibly confussing and problematic if she didn't change the important stuff.

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    2. A woman does not 'have to' change her paperwork after marriage if she opts not to change her last name, just like a man does not 'have to' change his paperwork after marriage if he opts not to change his last name. Some may choose to update records pertaining to distribution of property (e.g. beneficiaries of retirement accounts) following marriage.

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