When a prospective bride revealed that she would be using her fiancé’s surname after marriage, an acquaintance expressed mild surprise.
“I had the impression you were a staunch feminist.”
She answered, “I am. If I’m to be known by some guy’s name, I’d rather it be the guy I chose rather than the guy my mother chose.”
[Author unknown, but greatly appreciated! If you or anyone you know has a proprietary interest in this story please authenticate and I will be happy to credit, or remove, as appropriate.]
Don’t you just love this!
I ran across this several years ago; I’ve loved it ever since.
I’ve always empathized with the plight of women having to change their name. That must be so weird!
So I’ve always understood the desire to do the hyphenated thing. Or keeping their “maiden” name.
But that’s just taking mom’s guy’s name! I never looked at a marrying woman’s name dilemma in quite this way before!
But that’s not the only reason why I love the quote. I also love it because it reflects a sensibility that I find refreshing.
A sensibility about constraints.
Now you might point out that there really is another option. She and her prospective can take a new name, a created name. Okay, I guess that works on one level, but, clearly, very out of the mainstream different.
Sometimes the better way to go is to just work within the system.
Work within the constraints. Work with the constraints.
Sometimes, when none of the options are really that appealing, there’s really only one option left that’s productive.
Making it work.
I’ve made this point a number of times over the years. Your last name has been mine for 35 years, but I don’t feel like a Greco, (although I’m obviously used to the name,) but I no longer feel like a Wieloch. Plus my spellcheck just told me that, although Greco is a word, Wieloch is not. Sexist.
Don Murn said:
Having daughters (one who is currently engaged) this is a hot topic of discussion in my family. I do not know the answer but love the twist this quote puts on it. As Shakespeare said (and I paraphrase), “A rose by any other name, would smell as sweet”. Once you know a person their name becomes irrelevant the essence of who they are makes them real in our minds. Our thoughts of who they are renders their name nothing more than a social convention to recognize them in various forms (oral and written) in a sea of human beings. So I love this quote as it points out something so obvious about the process of name changes for women at marriage
As far as working within the constraints, especially on an institutional level at the workplace, I see that as one of the true keys to success. As I always told my children, school is not about learning , it is about delivering to the teacher what the teacher wants to hear about the material he\she is teaching. I was in artfully telling them to work within the constraints of the educational system. “Learning”, in an institutional sense, is really about adapting to the system and understanding how it can be manipulated to reach your ends. Not in an unethical or immoral way, just in way that recognizes the intuition’s limitations. Working within the “constraints” so to speak.
Herb M. said:
Excellent lesson in “point of view” dynamics. However, it goes MUCH deeper. First, this “stauch femenist” doesn’t have the name of the “guy her mom chose” rather the name of her FATHER or DAD. What would you think of me if I invited you to my wife’s mother-in-law’s upcoming birthday party? My “wife’s mother-in-law’???? That would also be my MOM! Why would I distance myself from my MOM by depositing her into my wife’s lap somehow?
My point? Why would this “staunch femenist” refer to her own (maiden) name as belonging to some guy her mom chose? Why not be proud of her father’s name, and refer to it accordingly? Possibly some serious daddy issues going on here (of some sort).
Ouch. That leads us right back to what drives “everything” around us: Cause, and effect. WHY do we do what we do? As for names, well, EVERY baby must have a name. Every street. Every ocean. Otherwise how would be know who we are? Where we are? If you are ashamed of your father, change your name! If you think your “stauch femenist” profile will be bolstered by rejecting your father’s name, then do it. If your father’s last name was Hitler, and you don’t think that name will help you in your pursuit of elected/public office, then do what you think is right and change it! Either way, you must decide to love it or leave it.
And now for MY point of view: A name is about history. And pride. Where did I come from? Were my ancestors rich or did they struggle? Were they from Asia or Europe? Or Native American? I meet numerous customers every day, and when I meet someone whose name matches my own heritage, I ask about it! And we immediately make a connection! A “connection” that we otherwise would not have made if this person would have erased their heritage by jettisoning their Father’s name/family. John, you know very well that family and RELATIONSHIPS is EVERYTHING. Without relationships, almost NOTHING happens. So who wants to destroy a good relationship? (assuming you’re not ashamed somehow).
Most people understand the importance of the FAMILY. A woman leaves her parents and unites with her husband to start a NEW family. When she takes her husband’s name, she does not forget her maiden name or her family history, but she is moving forward to give life to a new generation that should have the stability of a Father and a Mother, with the Father being the HEAD of the family. The fact (and I mean ABSOLUTE fact) of our societal decay has accelerated under the pressure of children disobeying and disrepecting their parents, followed by the same treatment of public authority, and our fellow citizens in general.
If you’re not sure what I mean, just watch the news. Divorce rates. Murder rates. Road rage. Public gun battles. School and workplace shootings. People getting beaten, robbed, even raped in the streets. In broad daylight. On video. On youtube. We’ve become so desensitized, so calloused; what was once (not long ago) an OUTRAGE, has now become entertainment for more and more people. So, how did we arrive at the point where we refer to our own Father as “the guy my mother chose”?
Rebellion comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes and levels (usually starting small). And when parents/adults (or public “heroes”) display rebellious behavior, our children will take it to the next level. And not to mention the violent and immoral behavior that is shown (as entertainment or art) on TV and video, it’s no wonder today’s children are tomorrow’s violent criminals. (POV switch: Today’s violent criminals were yesterday’s sweet, innocent, and cute little kids). Don’t get me wrong; watching a violent movie does not guarantee a child will become violent. Smoking cigarettes doesn’t guarantee you’ll get lung cancer or die at a young age. But it’s clear that smoking is NOT good for you, and a certain percentage of people DO INDEED succumb to lung cancer (and other horrific diseases).
So please, stop smoking.
Anyway, all that is just what popped into my head while I read your excellent post, John, thank you!