Monday, August 6, 2012

[Sally] 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 Sally. 

I identify as a feminist, my husband and I have been married for 19 happy years, we have two kids (who have my surname as a second middle name and his last name).  Only my grandmother raised a question as to why I wasn't taking his name when we got married, but no one else really made much of it.

My husband's last name is that of an infamous Nazi official. No kidding. Fortunately, his family has no known relationship to this butcher. But the question of this suspected relationship sometimes arises when we meet new Jewish acquaintances. His family is also pretty conservative; mine is progressive, and I identify more with the values that my family espouses. (My mom assumed my father's name when they got married, although she still uses her maiden name as a middle name.) My husband and I are both Ivy League PhDs, and I worked very hard to achieve this educational and professional goal, and I prefer that my published work appear under my own distinct name. Even though I kept my "maiden" name upon getting married, would you believe that we still get wedding invitations from his cousins addressed to "Dr. and Mrs. [my husband's name]"?


  1. I'm not sure what would upset me more if I was in Sally's position - the cousins refusal to remember that I'd kept my own name, or their refusal to remember I had a phd of my own! Sadly I am not surprised by either...

  2. My in-laws and several of my more conservative relatives REFUSE to acknowledge that I kept my maiden name when I married. I still get mail and cards from them addressed to Mr. and Mrs {his last name}. Drives me bonkers, but in 9 years of marriage I've learned to ignore it. *shrug* It's their problem...not mine:)

  3. My husband's family all refuse to use my last name (I kept my own name). It gets difficult when they send checks addressed to Mrs. Heather {his last name}. Oddly enough, the bank has gotten so used to them doing this, they don't even question it any more. If a faceless corporate entity can get over the 'wrong' name being on something, you'd think sentient, well-educated family members could. *sigh*

  4. I live in a place where you are not allowed by law to take your spouce's name (Quebec, Canada). I was happy and proud to keep "my" name when we got married, but after years of marriage, I am now disappointed I can't share my husband's name. While I understand your desire to want to keep your name professionally, I am puzzled by your strong feelings of disgust about being socially addressed by your husband's name. Again, I can understand you being upset that your family does not recognize your doctorate and address you both as Dr. and Dr. but I think it is petty and disrespectful to your husband and your relationship to be upset that you are being addressed by your husband's name on an envelope. From where I am standing is seems as though you are embarrassed to have his name because you can't get past the history behind it. That's not feminism that hypocrisy.

  5. In response to Anonymous, September 4, 2012, 10:16 PM:
    I don't see why its "petty and disrespectful" to be upset about being addressed by a name that is not yours, that you consciously chose not to adopt because you are rejecting a chauvinistic culture and a tradition that is completely rooted in sexism? Also, not sure I understand the "hypocrisy" behind it? Most of us who don't like receiving letters/invitations with our husband's last names dumped on us are not protesting against our respective husbands, or their last names -- but rather, against a tradition that treats men and women asymetrically. I am yet to receieve mail from my family or friends that callously addresses my husband by my last name.

  6. I've made the honest mistake of wrong last names on formally addressed things. For instance, I never knew my husband's aunt legally hyphenated her name and did not address her correctly on our wedding invitations (it was one of those more rare instances where I'd never seen her name formally written out anywhere, this was pre-Facebook, and when assembling the guest list her sister, my MIL, did not correct me). This was several years ago and I still feel bad for the mistake, but I hope anyone I've done this to does not hold hard feelings.