Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What's in a name?

Name changes are like the third rail of feminist brides, like myself. Stating an opinion on the subject opens you up to all sorts of nasty comments from those on both sides, when it seems to me that of all things a name is, well, personal. Thus, I will share my opinion with you in the hopes that you will realize that this is what's right for me and that I'm not preachy (or at least, not intentionally so).

I will be changing my name. Or I guess more accurately, I will be adding the Mister's last name to my own. I am one of those with a short enough name that I often get called by both--you know, like your friend Jenny Liu everyone calls JennyLiu all the time and if you called her "Jenny" she'd barely know who you were talking to? Anyway, so using that example, I'd be becoming Jenny Liu Mister, dropping my middle name (It's Anne. Yes, that's exactly how creative my parents were. Katherine Anne. There were only about 9343284239483944 of us born in the '80s.), and using all 3 names in most cases.

Why am I doing this? In the first place, because it's really important to The Mister that we have "a family name." The Mister is, among other things, a traditionalist in a lot of ways. I know when hearing "traditional," a lot of feminists hear "mysoginist" but I at least choose to hear it differently. It's not about my becoming his property, it's an outward reflection of our reality--that we are a family.

The Mister actually first mentioned his desire for a family name to me when we first started dating, and we were like 18 and 19 and had been dating only a couple months. (As I recall the conversation, it was in no way creepy, it was more hypothetical than anything.) And my response then, and still today, was that if I were established in my career there's no way I would change my name. If I was young, just out of school, it was important to my future husband, and his last name didn't suck (it doesn't), then I would consider it.

So I guess what we have here is a perfect storm of name changing factors.

We didn't discuss the possibility of The Mister's taking my last name. I don't exactly know why we didn't--maybe this makes me a bad feminist--but we just didn't. Neither one of us is keen on hyphenation either, so that wasn't a real option, but the Mister did suggest that he take my last name as his middle. So we'll have two matching names. I don't know why that made me feel so warm and fuzzy, but it did.

Anyway, for those of you who know me in real life (or at least on facebook, which passes for real enough these days), don't be shocked when you see my name get one name longer in May.