As my wedding day looms closer (only six weeks!!!), I’ve been thinking more and more about whether or not I should change my last name after I get married. Plenty of people have asked me about it, too, since my last post. I got some really interesting feedback from both sides that I hadn’t considered before, but unfortunately it didn’t help me make a decision. The way I see it, I am still stuck with choosing to give up my name, which I like a lot, or being weird because I won’t give up my name. There’s really no way I can win.
Several people suggested that I hyphenate my name. While it’s a good compromise, here’s what I have against hyphenation: If you’re going to go through the effort to change your maiden name to a hyphenated name, then you might as well just change it altogether. And again, there’s the nagging assumption that while you’re hyphenating your name, your husband probably won’t hyphenate his.
As I’ve spent more and more time deliberating, it finally occurred to me that the question is not “Should I change my name?” but “Why is my last name anyone else’s business in the first place?” Since Scott and I got engaged, people have asked us about our future life plans, including but especially children. I’ve gotten questions like, “When are you planning on having kids? Are you still going to go to law school? Will you keep your job? What are you going to do about childcare? Who’s going to watch your kids if you’re not at home?” Guess how many people have asked Scott these types of questions? ZERO. Because he is a man, and our society has not laden him with the responsibilities of caring for a family, but primarily for providing for one financially. Generally speaking, he doesn’t have to choose between being a parent or an attorney or a student and feel guilty about that choice. He doesn’t have to choose whether or not to change his last name when he gets married. And of course, this is through no fault of his own (or any one man’s, for that matter), it’s just the world we live in.
Just in case you weren’t aware, there is a double standard that exists for modern women in this sense. If I change my last name, I will be giving in to the antiquated patriarchal norm. If I keep my last name, I will be a stuck-up, self-righteous feminist who doesn’t love her husband enough. There’s really no way I can win, just as traditional, well-to-do families scorn working mothers and elite, ultra-progressive women who think their farts smell like roses belittle and insult stay-at-home moms.
So, here’s my decision: I refuse to make a decision at all.
I do, however, have a game plan. I’m going to use my maiden name professionally. On social media like Facebook where I currently use my full name, I’ll use both last names. (Or maybe I’ll make up a super awesome last name like “The Rock” Johnson.) However, in social situations, people are welcome to assign my husband’s last name to me colloquially if they want to.* I’ll be Kate Snow in the office and “Sister Rogers” at church and “Mrs. Rogers” at fancy restaurants and Not Your Mommy’s Blogger online. As far as what’s on my driver’s license, my passport, my social security card? It’s nobody’s business, not the government’s, not my peers’, not people ready to judge me for making a choice that’s unfair in the first place.
Am I making this a bigger deal than it needs to be? Probably. Actually, definitely. But that’s what I’m good at, and that’s why you’re reading this word vomit.
*The only thing that really makes my skin crawl is when people say “Mr. and Mrs. Scott Rogers.” Really?! I don’t even get a first name anymore??? Come on, society…