Taking my husband’s name: a feminist decision
I am a feminist who took her husband’s name in marriage.
There. I said it.
Sometimes I feel like I have to explain myself for this decision, like I’ve lost some sort of feminist street cred. It’s the worst when emailing some of my old women’s studies professors. “Hi, you might remember me as Renee W., but I have a new name now! Sorry everything you taught me didn’t stick.” Except, all the women’s studies classes, all the blog and book reading I’ve done, all the consciousness-raising did stick. And that’s exactly my point.
I identify as a third-wave feminist. I recognize the work that the second-wave has done to get us to this place and I recognize that there is more work to be done and more change is necessary. But the second-wave granted us the freedom to choose. I’m not just talking about abortion or birth control. The second-wave gave us freedom to choose who we want to be, what we want to do, and to make personal decisions intentionally.
When I decided to take Joe’s name, it was an intentional, deliberate, conscious choice. Thanks to the second-wave, I knew I didn’t have to take his name. I didn’t have to follow tradition. (And, as our wedding surely made clear, we are not the kind of couple who blindly follows tradition anyway.) But the bottom line is this: I like Joe’s last name. I didn’t like my last name. I like the way my name sounds with his last name. I like being a single-named household. I like not hyphenating. I like feeling like a two unit family… a team.
Besides, my mom has a different name from me and that kinda sucked growing up. Correcting people is annoying. So, if we decide to have children, we will be a singular named family. No hyphens, no corrections, no confusion on wedding or graduation invitations or holiday cards. No one asking me “Whose insurance are you using?” because it’s obvious. Besides, Joe’s last name sounds waaaay better with “Dr.” or “President” in front of it.
It was a choice of convenience, but I pride myself on my efficiency, so this decision was certainly personal. That’s not to say I didn’t deliberate, because I did. In the end, tradition may have won, but it was certainly a feminist decision.