Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Name Game

My "blog twin" Carly (The Less Than Domestic Goddess) has had some amazing posts lately. She's talked about some challenges in trying to conceive, the challenges of living with one's husband and brother in the same apartment due to economic pressures, the challenges of a crazy mother-in-law (she is crazy), and the challenges of running a blog. If you don't read Carly's posts, you need to subscribe or visit her blog!

This post will be a reply to her post entitled (Changing My Name: One Year Late). The gist of her post is that she has two last names - her maiden and married last names. She didn't hyphenate, but she legally has two last names. (Kinda like hyphenating, but without a hypen between). She goes by either last name, partially depending on her mood, sometimes in a flighty way (if she's mad at her hubby, she goes by her maiden name), but more out of genuine confusion over which she prefers.

Let me state that I legally "inverse" hyphenated. I'd have preferred two last names, like Carly, but with Hanna as one of the last names, it would sound like I had two first names!

I personally find it abhorrent when women change their name because it's the right thing to do or it's the easiest thing or it's what they always assumed they'd do. To me, it seems like someone who always "assumed" that's what they'd do was groomed to prepare herself to be a wife, as if that's a goal. Yes, being married is great and it's a wonderful thing to want to spend the rest of your life with someone; however, getting married should not be a goal in life. A goal is something you set for personal betterment. Getting married is what two people who want to commit to each other do. Going to university, becoming a teacher, getting a promotion - these are goals.

I don't understand women who change their name because their maiden name is hard to pronounce or difficult to spell. (I mean, that's the best reason you could come up with for changing your name?) And as for women who want to have the same last name of their kids: in this "modern" time, people can deal with mothers having different last names than their kids. And let's be honest, you could always consider hyphenating your kid's name. It's not a death sentence or a horrible crime to do that, although some people think it is. You know Helena Bonham-Carter, the actress? Her family name is Bonham-Carter or Bonham Carter. Her cousin once removed is James Bonham-Carter, who was my high school biology teacher. This is a whole family with a hyphenated last name. I also dated someone early in university who had a hyphenated last name of his mother's and father's last names. He was actually proud of having these two last names merged into one hyphenated last name.

I sympathize with Carly's debate. And I pointed out in my comment that you can change your name years into the marriage. Sarah Michelle Gellar changed her name to Sarah Michelle Prinze on her fifth anniversary, but of course she's professional known as Sarah Michelle Gellar. (And some women change their name socially but go by their maiden name professionally. That's another option.)

While I hyphenated (inverse hyphenation: Married-Maiden), I professionally go by my maiden name. I think changing or hyphenating your name is a personal decision. I haven't completely decided what to do, either, I suppose.

Thanks, Carly, for your thought-provoking post!


  1. Very interesting point of view, very similar to my own! Of course having grown up in Quebec I've never really met women with married names, so for me growing up that was the weirdest thing! :-)

  2. An interesting post, it still amazes me sometimes that people get so upset at other people's name choices. I sometimes don't want to admit I inverse double barrelled because instead of respecting my decision people judge me for taking his name and double barrelling. Even though it was my choice! Ultimately it's a personal choice and should be seen as that.

    Sorry bit of a confused rant but what I wanted to say was I agree with all you say about doing what you want with your name not what others think you should!

  3. Thanks for the shout-out, blog twin! The other day I was thinking about our old days of wedding planning and blogging. I was reminded of how we shared so much with each other through that process :)

    Anyway, I am glad you have been enjoying my posts! The "Name Game" is always an interesting debate. I can't say I agree with every reason I have heard for changing one's name, either. It is refreshing to read your stance on this, because you seem more progressive than a lot of the opinions I have read online or heard in person. It baffles me that most women are still very traditional when it comes to changing their name. Also, it bothers me when I hear things like, "I didn't want to change my name, but my spouse really wanted me to." While I understand that a spouse (usually a husband) is entitled to their opinion, I really think the person who is actually changing their name needs to take ownership over this process. They are the one who is changing their name, and ultimately, it should be their decision.

    Interesting post, and I enjoyed reading your opinion on this subject.