a few weeks ago at my bridal shower, one of my friends from home asked me if i was going to change my last name. knowing that i was about to give an unpopular answer, i wrinkled my nose and shook my head, "no," almost imperceptibly. it was perceptible enough to garner a reaction from people, especially considering that the two married women also at the table had changed their last names.
what about your kids? whose last name will they have? will you have a different name than they will?
and, on the other side, a different friend pointed out that i have a doctoral degree. i am dr. N. mr. S. did not spend those six and a half years in grad school.
in the end, most of my friends at that table were for the tradition of the woman changing her last name. my family, of course, didn't say much, but i suspect they think that i'm a little nutty.
this weekend, joseph and i sampled cakes for our wedding. it was an overall delicious experience except for one moment. the baker, when inquiring about how we'd like the cake decorated, suggested a monogram with our married initial, "S." joseph looked at me and laughed. i explained that i wasn't changing my last name.
she looked at me suspiciously and didn't immediately abandon the idea!
on the way home, joseph told me that it didn't bother him, but he thought it was funny that i was constantly having to defend myself. i told him that he needed to support me! it's not easy defying gender norms/expectations.
i am keeping my name. my name is an important part of my identity. it represents my family and their unique history, and it represents my culture. in that sense, it represents what i have inherited from my ancestors.
it also represents what i have accomplished in my life thus far. it is all the trophies and awards of my childhood, the byline that accompanied the articles i wrote for my local newspaper when i was in high school, and it was is inscribed on my undergraduate diploma from stanford and my graduate diploma from the university of texas. it is what my students call me, and it was what accompanies and will accompany all of my publications from now until tenure and beyond.
it is me.
i love joseph. i count our upcoming wedding as an incredible blessing. i don't, however, think that love and marriage mean that a woman should have to sacrifice something she considers important to her identity. if a woman chooses to do so, i respect that decision. one of the major goals of the feminist movement, after all, was for women to have choices.
i am not so naive to think that women won't be judged for their choices, whether it be the choice to keep her last name or the choice to return to work after her child is born. in that sense, women's "liberation" doesn't feel so liberating after all. but these are our rights, and we choose to exercise them.
joseph and i met with our DJ shortly before we left bakersfield today. at the end of our meeting he said to us, "the next time i see you, you'll be mr. and mrs. S!"
i sighed. "well, actually..."