Not Enough What Exactly?

So. Name changing. Quite the conversation happened yesterday about it. It’s a subject that always hits me hard … though, not in the ways you’d expect.

I changed my name, when I got married. For me, it was something I wanted to do. I DID talk to my dad first (my maiden name is very uncommon … as in worldwide, there are less than 200 people with the name) … had he had strong feelings about it, I would have kept it as a second middle name.* I wouldn’t have hyphenated. All this is to say I didn’t think twice about changing my name, and I’m happy I did it. Sarah MarriedLast feels more  like me than Sarah MaidenLast ever did.

When the name change talk comes up, my position is not generally one that’s widely smiled upon. The way it seems to me, I’m not considered feminist … or standing up for myself? … ENOUGH if I didn’t keep my maiden name. I consider this bullshit.

My choice may not have been yours, but damn it, it was MY. CHOICE. And it’s just as valid as the choices of my friends who kept their names, and my friends who hyphenated, and my friends who flat-out came up with a new name. So what is with the pushback? Why is it that even in a community of women who say they are built around a “no judgement zone” there are still an overwhelming majority who will tell you your choice isn’t as good as theirs?

And it’s not just name changing … especially when it comes to weddings. It’s been really hard to watch women who were – while planning – super supportive of everyone around them suddenly be of the “if you don’t do it my way you’re WRONG” mindset.

I had a religious, seated-catered-meal, long-white-gown wedding. With toasts and a cake that looked like a traditional wedding cake. Pretty much as far from “indie” as you can get. But it was our wedding, and it was lovely. Looking down your nose at me because I wasn’t indie enough is not going to win you any fans.

I can’t wait until this starts happening with children.**

I’m never going to understand this whole if-you-disagree-you’re-not-worth-anything mentality.


* Dad did have strong feelings about it … he asked my brother if he wanted kids someday. Brother said yes. Dad was satisfied that the name would continue, and told me not to worry about it. Practical man.

** FEEEEEEEL the sarcasm.

7 Responses to “Not Enough What Exactly?”

  1. I started to write a bunch here, but am thinking maybe I should just post myself. In summary – I agree.

  2. I totally agree. These are personal decisions that reach to a very personal level. Whatever your reasoning and your decision is about issues of name changing and wedding styles is completely valid if you like it. It is about the people getting married being happy, and no one elses opinions really matter.

    I have never understood why people have to look down on others for their choices on anything, but especially on wedding issues. I think it is some weird defense mechanism where they can validate their own choices by condemning others. It doesn’t make sense but it is the only theory I have. Well that and people suck. I of course have a lot of pent up bitterness and rage over my own nightmare of a wedding, but even then, in the end I wouldn’t have changed what people didn’t like about the day because those were honestly the only parts I loved about the day. I would so change out the part where my family walked out on the service, or my Aunt threatened the officiant who was a dear friend and my boss and had paid for everything, or her telling me in front of all my friends and my new husband that if I ever wanted out she would save me, and I would have had a wedding gown…but those are issues that happened from people not liking my choices.

  3. Lately, I’ve been feeling more and more like I want to change my last name and take my husband’s last name instead of my current second last name (since I’m already a hyphenate). He would probably take my last name as a second middle, or he is open to hyphenating as well, potentially. But the reason I haven’t actually done it yet? Well, I’m afraid of what people will think. It’s horribly stupid, but I’m afraid my feminist friends will think I’m selling out, I’m afraid my in-laws will think I’m still not one of them, I’m afraid my mother will be horribly upset (that I’m dropping my Dad’s name…no, it doesn’t make sense), I’m afraid my sister will feel hurt that we don’t have the same last name anymore, and mostly, mostly, I’m afraid that people will think I’m “one of those women” who hyphenated. And it’s not like I can get a tattoo that says “I already was a hyphenate!” Although I thought about it. Somehow, it is very important to me to not be regarded as one of those uppity compromise women that hyphenates because her husband wanted her to take his name, and she wanted to keep her own identity. Even though I know that is like, 1% of women that hyphenate. I hate myself for being so concerned about what people think, by the way.

  4. Hello Sarah. I think I will end up just changing my name to hislastname. The super long hyphenation (would have to have 3 last names with a “y “in between 2 last names because the law here does not allow otherwise) just does not feel right and like you describe I think I will feel better to just take his name. Though I am having a hard time letting go of my name, the urge to share a name with the boy and our future kids is stronger.
    On the rest I think beylit is right, people try to validate themselves by putting the “others” down to prove themselves their way is better. Which is not nice at all. But this matters are deeply personal, and in the end, if it is right for you and your new baby family, it’s ok and that’s all that counts, it’s perfectly valid. I am not sure if I am making much sense here, but don’t let people’s opinions on YOUR life make you angry or sad… just rub it off, ignore the noise.

  5. This is my personal take. I don’t know if this is where other women in the online community are coming from.

    So my in-person friends that have gotten married have ALL changed their name. Seriously, every girl friend I have from college changed their last name. I’m the only one who didn’t. It’s somewhat disappointing to be the odd woman out. Not all of my friends consider themselves feminists, but even the ones that do seem to not even have considered other options. Of course perhaps I’m wrong about this, but when I’ve broached the topic with a few of them, I’ve gotten a rather defensive response.

    And so I would never judge an online friend for changing her last name, but I do a silent cheer when I find out an online friend didn’t change. While I love my in-person friends, not all of our values align. And when I find smart women out there online who have the same values as me, it feels good to know that some of them made the same choice I did. Or at least a choice different than the mainstream.

    What I think is important is that people know you made a CHOICE to change or not to change, and that you didn’t do it just because it was expected of you.


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