Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Name Game

It seems I have come across a bit of a lull bloggingwise of late.  It's ironic, this is almost the first time that I'm not just reading about other people's ideas or dreaming up my own but am in fact making appointments to look at venues in California while I'm there next month.  Oddly enough, this has caused downtime for me creatively.  I figure, if I might have a venue in a few weeks, might as well wait on the real planning until I have it.

Anyway, due to my lack of interesting things to say, I thought this might be a good time to talk about last names.

In many ways, I have distinct feminist tendencies.  This is not one of them.  Growing up, I never doubted for a second that I would take my husband's last name, and the reason is simple:  I hate my last name.  It is common, boring, and, most bothersome to me, a boy's first name.  I have been looking forward to getting rid of it for years.

And then I met Daniel.  Daniel's last name isn't horrible.  It's easy to spell without being ridiculously common.  Nonetheless, it's really not what I was hoping for in a new last name, and though it is not a boy's first name, it does end in "man."  I find this very problematic.

It's not that I'm not still planning to change my last name because I am, but for the first time, it's not such an appealing prospect.  What I'd really like to do is have both of us change our last names to something meaningful to both of us.  We often joke that we should change our last name to "Awesome" (anyone out there watch "How I Met Your Mother"?).  That would be legend (wait for it) dary!  Of course, I'm not expecting something like that.  But we could make it work.  Once I tried to find the perfect last name for us, and the best I could come up with was Roberts.  As in, the Dread Pirate Roberts.  Which as anyone who knows (loves...worships...) the fantastical movie for which my blog is named should know, would be pretty fucking awesome...for the select few who knew the reference anyway.

There are a lot of possibilities, but I think that even if I came up with the perfect name, Daniel still wouldn't go for it.  He hasn't said no outright, but it's been pretty clear to me that he's not crazy about actually doing this.

I find this extremely unfair.  I know millions of women have said this, but I still find it problematic that a woman should be expected to give up her name for the man.  I don't want to have separate last names, but why am I the only one who has to give mine up?  Why is it so foreign for both couples to give up their last names?

I don't want Daniel to do it if he's not comfortable with it.  It just bothers me that this is so uncommon that my fiance who is almost more of a feminist than I am won't really consider giving his name up, mostly because it was never something he would be expected to do.  I don't blame him, I blame the norm.  And at the risk of sounding like an angsty pubescent, it just sucks.

I guess maybe this is a way in which I have distinct feminine tendencies after all.

So, thoughts?  Are you giving up your last name?  Would you ever consider inventing a new last name?  How do you feel about the name game?

P.S.  I know a lot of people have had trouble with comments lately, and I know I've had trouble receiving them in the past.  If you're having trouble commenting, would you mind sending me a quick email, just so I know and can try to fix it?  I'd really appreciate it.  You can find me at


  1. I HATED giving up my last name. I really loved being "Nicole Child," even though I haven't seen my biological father or his family since I was three. Mostly I just liked the sound, the shortness of it, and the uncommonness of it (I've never met or heard of anyone with the same last name!). However, Andrew really wanted me to take his last name, and I really wanted us to be a family and it makes things so much easier having the same last name. I do wish his name was a little more original, or barring that, that at least I was continuing some sort of family legacy by choosing "Wallace" but the reality is that his family has only been Wallace for one generation (they were Zuwalack, I think before coming to the states). However, I think I understand why Daniel wants to hang on to his last name. It's probably been in his family for generations and you should continue the legacy. Besides, there are worse and less interesting names than his out there!

  2. Yeah, it was weird hearing Nicole Wallace after Nicole Child, I'm not gonna lie. I really like your maiden name. And I agree, for Daniel it's mostly about legacy, especially since he's an only child. The thing is, I think his family cares a lot more than he does, and I do wonder how much of it is them.

  3. I am giving up my last name. I was actually gonna do a blog post about this too, but I feel like my husband is giving up a lot for me- he is moving to my country, away from his family and childhood friends, plus he is going to wind up adopting a lot of "Americanisms" and leaving behind his old English ways. I feel like I should give up something for him, and show him I am ready to be part of his family although we will be a million miles away from them. IDK, maybe it is silly a reason. All of the women in my family gave up their maiden names too, so I guess making a new name or doing the hyphen thing never even crossed my mind. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

  4. @kristin: THAT makes total sense to me. I would also feel like I should give up whatever I can for him, especially since I have done that plane flight a few times, and I shudder at the prospect of doing it on a semi-regular basis.

  5. Nicole, you do realize that "Robert" is a boy's first name too, right? So changing your name to Roberts really wouldn't be any different than your name now.

    Second, you say you've never doubted taking on your husband's name, but suddenly that changes because Daniel's name ends in "man"? From what I know and assume, Daniel's name comes from roots where one's ;ast name describes their profession - making it no different than "Smith", "Baker", etc (even my maiden name). The male connection to the name does name the man the head of the family or the one with said profession, but we know that Daniel is not going to take on the profession that his name connotes (nor do most Smiths become blacksmiths or Bakers actually bake bread), so the name no longer gives any specific significance to your family, profession, or state of governing the household.

    Honestly, I don't see much difference in ending a name with "man" (to describe the man's profession or whatnot) as one that ends in "son" (showing that the person is the male child of some other person of note) - and there are tons of "son" names out there (including my new name, you know). Again, this name originally instated the man as the important one, the carrier of the family name, the head of the house, but do people really think of that when they meet someone named Thompson or Wilson or anything else?

    I don't know - I may not be much help because I *do* believe the man should be the head of the household and the carrier of the name. I think asking or expecting a man to change his name has more social backlash, and there's more to lose (also, it's way harder to do, legally). You're not required to take Daniel's name, but I think he has a right to keep it if he so desires.

  6. People will hear your last name and know that you're married, which is generally a good thing. I understand Daniel's hesitancy in changing his last name. Suddenly you're cutting ties to both of your families. It'd be weird. It's kind of inexplicable, but just like we like being gentlemen, chivalrous, etc., we also want to feel like we're the man of the house, that we're carrying on the family line. I think it's genetically ingrained. You'll get used to the new name, it'll just take a few months.

  7. That's exactly the problem, Andrew.


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