Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shakespeare was full of crap. Names are important.

I've already talked about my opinion of changing my name (spoiler:  I don't like my last name nor do I like his, but I'm changing it because I don't want my last name to be different from Daniel's or my kids'.  I'm not particularly happy about it).  But it's something I've done a lot of thinking about since that post, and I have a theory/observations I'd like to share with you.

You see, I've read a lot of other people's name change posts and talked to a lot of my friends about their feelings on the subject, and there are some trends I've picked out.

Most men (read:  men that I have some respect for) seem to be OK with their women keeping their own last names.  They'd rather their wives share their last names, but they won't put up a fight if their wives keep their names.  This is certainly a step forward, and I'm glad they don't put pressure on women to change their names.

However, it seems most men have an aversion to changing their last names, my fiance included.  It doesn't matter what the change is--hyphenating (though frankly, NO ONE likes hyphenated names), taking the woman's last name, taking a different last name altogether--men won't change their names.

I think changing this is the next step toward name equality.  Although I'm in favor of the couple choosing a new last name altogether, I think it's perfectly reasonable to expect the man to take the woman's last name just as often as the woman takes the man's.  Obviously, we're not even close to there yet, but I think that is what we should be working toward.

Because when you think about it, the current system really sucks.  If the woman doesn't take the man's name, she's the only member of the family with a different last name once the kids come.  And that's a total pain in the ass.  I know.  I have to deal with it at work, and it's just confusing as Hell trying to sort out whose name is whose.  Though I am pleased to say that our gym is almost 50/50 same name vs. different name for the moms.

Anyway, the thing that bothers me is that most men won't even consider a different last name as part of marriage.  Even pro-feminist men like Daniel.  I don't blame them as individuals.  They've been taught that they get to keep their names, and some of their families put pressure on them to keep up the family name.

But if they get that sense of entitlement, why shouldn't we?  Women shouldn't feel like they have to change their names or not be a part of the family.  And why shouldn't we have the option of keeping our family name going?  Keeping your last name isn't good enough for that because the kids won't share it.  And it would be nice if the men shared the name-changing burden.  The paperwork alone is such a monster.  Why should we be the only ones having to make the choice?

In Nicole's perfect world, picking the couple's last name would be a truly egalitarian affair.  Yes, that will make it more difficult, but it is also the only way to make the process fair.

OK, rant over, thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. The kids don't always have to have the father's name. Bob and Barbara split the surnames for their kids: the girl took Barbara's last name, and the boy took Bob's. It makes it a little less confusing. But in all truth, there's no easy answer to this. You shouldn't be worried about what anyone else thinks; this is a personal decision for you. People will respect that.


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