Beyond Babedom

We're (way) over 40. Deal with it.

Disappearing Acts

You know what really bothers me? The fact that women still change their names when they get married.
You may think this is a non issue. After all, isn’t that just common practice? Exactly my point. I really thought that with the advent of the women’s movement, most of us would keep out real names (which I refuse to call “maiden names”) vs. taking the “I no longer exist” Mrs. The only thing worse is giving up your first name as well -  to be Mrs. John So and So. Those women scare me.

Not only is it appalling to me that women, even today, are willing to give up their names but that people are amazed or amused when they learn that I never gave up mine. Sorry; I enjoy still existing. Oh, you think I hyperbolate? (Yes, I just made up that word.) Tell me, how many times have you tried to find an old friend in the phone book or, more recently, on FaceBook only to discover that Donna Orr or Mary Kohlbecker or Pat Donnelly are no more, to be replaced by Donna Collett, Mary Smith and Trish Sheehan? Come on – how are we supposed to know that? Bad enough when they decide to use new first names they use (like Bobbi or Marki for Roberta and Peggy), but when they team that with a different last name, finding them is impossible.

So, all these women stopped existing when they got married, even though some of them are divorced now (I must say, I’m really proud of my two sisters who took back their original names and have magically reappeared for all to find).

I’m serious here. What is it about women and girls that makes them so anxious to disappear into someone else’s name? I can understand it for earlier generations – although it wasn’t unheard for a woman to resist changing her name even back in the early 20th century – but why do women agree to go along with this antiquated routine? For their kids? Come on. Weak excuse. Use both names for them if you must (my friend Dereck Smith-Winnis never had a problem). That’s an especially weak argument for my childless or BB friends whose kids are way past caring. And the divorced ones? Really? You really need to keep the name of a man you loathe?  I must admit, I think it would be incredible if men started taking our names. It tickles me to no end when Gary gets mail addressed to “Gary Lo Sapio” though he doesn’t seem too thrilled.

Women used to look to the day to give up their name because it represented achieving the highest goal they could imagine: being married. Aren’t we a little beyond that? I think it’s time for all BBs to take back their names, their identities and their existence and go back to their real names.

Unless, of course, it’s Hitler.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 at 11:25 PM and is filed under Relationships. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  1. terri says:

    I did it because I wanted to. And it is easier if kids have the same name as both parent. Imagine if we stopped doing it and our kids all had hyphenated names. Then they got married and their kids got hypenated names x2 and so on. It would be crazy. If I didn’t intend to have kids, I may have considered keeping my name although it is boring. Actually my husbands last name is kinda boring too. I make it easy to find me on FB as I do use both names just for that reason. That’s my excuse and I am sticking to it! LOL

  2. You can have your own names if we can date other women…

  3. Summer says:

    Not everyone does it b/c it’s “common practice”. I couldn’t stand my maiden name and couldn’t wait to change it. And also, I want my kids to have the same name as their mother AND father. Not b/c it’s the thing to do, but b/c it’s what I choose to do.

    • Cindy Allen says:

      Summer you said exactly what I would have said. Happy to not have a confusing last name anymore and our whole family has the same name. I have not lost my sense self or my identity by changing my name and it makes everything so much easier too.

  4. Jo Ann says:

    I guess that’s why once I was called an “independent bitch” — okay I said, so if I’m an IB, what are you? an independent bastard, he replied. Okay, just so we have that clear.

    here’s another good one —- would you like to go out with me? my reply: thanks but I’m not dating right now and I say that to be polite. what does he say? what are you gay? what, do you think you’re wonderful??

    amazing!!!

  5. Karl says:

    Sounds like someone is facing a lifelong identity crisis……..

    Assuming the surname of a husband is primarily for legal purposes . It should always be the woman’s choice whether to do it or not…..

    Why automatically assume that women who take the traditional name route are “giving up their identity”? Maybe some women just have a more “title resistant” sense of self?

  6. Jeff L says:

    I thought the idea was so the old boyfriends can’t find you to come back and try to break up someones happy home!

  7. Nancy says:

    My cousin and her husband to be flipped a coin to whose name to use, she won and he now uses her last name

  8. Kathy says:

    Go burn your bra and get over it girlie!
    Love ya anyway.

  9. Bob G says:

    Lucy I would agree that alot of old practices do not reflect our current needs in our society but what we all need to do is to stop thinking that we live in a world of Men and Women, Because what we must remember is that the Children come first- above and beyond every selfish notion that ultimately distorts the truth. We have become a society of selfish demigods that permeate such a narcissistic climate that we have forgotton our mission!!! To procreate life and to nurture our children and so on etc. etc. Yes it has been the monsters of the past that have undermined woman-hood everywhere. Their is no tougher job than to be a woman with children. Fathers deserve more credit as well. It seems that most of the important things in our society have been replaced with secularist beliefs which will ultimately destroy society as we know it. Most religions believe in the ultimate importance of the family. Unless we reinvent ourselves as parents, as a whole we are lost!!! God Bless

  10. Toni says:

    Glad to see you’ve had a lot of push back on this, because as a more conservative person I thought I might be alone. I didn’t take my spouse’s name because I had to either – and I sure as heck didn’t lose my identity in doing so – if anything he was in my shadow being the less outgoing of our pair. You ‘don’t understand’ for those without kids – and they knew going into marriage how? Unless they pre-agreed it wasn’t going to happen, no one can know the curves life with throw their way, so that statement makes no sense to me.

    But the main point is, I am so much more than my name. I hardly ceased to exist – I am a force to be reckoned with! I’ve been separated for 4 years and no one refers to me as “Ken’s almost ex” – actual ex as of the 20th of this month thank you very much. I’m Toni. Writer, actress, singer, mom, sister, aunt, encourager, prayer-warrior, Christian, and much, much, more. I make a difference in my world. My first name means ‘worthy of praise’…my middle name, ‘wisdom’…beyond that, I’ve got no idea, so why do I care what it is?

    Because Ken was not a nice person…because he was difficult throughout this process of divorce, I have decided that other than the kids I want nothing he gave me – including the last name. And so, after 31 years of marriage, I will be taking back my maiden (sorry to offend) name. People ask if that will ‘mess’ with my identity since I was another name for so long. Nope. I wasn’t restricted by the old and not freed by the new. And if I marry again – and frankly, I hope someday I get another crack at doing that right and better – I’ll take on ‘his’ name again. It’s just my choice.

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