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Feminism and the Adaptation of Isaiah’s Last Name

September 25, 2010

Might be a touchy topic for some, I promise any opinions I share are just opinions I chose for myself…not opinions I hope to projectile spew all over you and your decisions.

I have never wondered if I was going to keep my last name. Okay, for like a day – Isaiah and I talked about it. I never thought it was conceding any of my individualism to adopt his last name. I thought it was an entrance into his family, a sign of honor and love…not the loss of Lizzie, part I, part II = the rest of my life in submission or something.

I wrote a paper my sophomore year of college about my ambivalence toward feminism, called “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar?” I went through the whole semi-extreme phase of feminism…until I picked up this book: Manifesta.

I couldn’t have disagreed more with the principles of the book. It was a hot-mess of gender inbalance. Maybe if I read it now, with my not-so-impressionable mind, I wouldn’t be so “eek!” about it, but when I was 18, I thought that book was everything I didn’t want to be…a hardened, anti-men, assumed-to-be-lesbian-all-the-time woman. ย This is no, I was calloused toward the thought of men before “he” came along! Isaiah didn’t free me from the cage of feminism by any means.

Who would’ve thought Family Guy would ever clarify an ambiguous thought in your mind into one concrete sentence for you? In an episode I watched yesterday, Lois said, “To me, feminism means choice.” She was talking about choosing to be a wife and mother and what not.

This post is not about feminism. That’s just a can of worms for a whole other day.

I’m talking about how I don’t feel Isaiah’s last name is some kind of assault on my femininity. I don’t think taking it means I lose any of who I was. My parents split when I was 12, I have no attachment to my last name. Isaiah basks in his last name’s glory. He loves the way it sounds and is really happy with it. The first time he introduced himself to me – it was a first, middle and last name introduction. (Yeah, I know)

I’m all about equality and choice, feminism. And maybe I’m just traditional in some arenas, but I base a lot of my big life decisions on how they feel – before and after.

  • I don’t want my future children to have a different last name than him or me.
  • I haven’t established myself under my maiden name yet.
  • I want to give that to him, join families and names.
  • I don’t have any inner-gut resistance to the idea.

I’m sure this all just blubber now. I guess my number one fear in relationships has always been to be an emasculating woman. To make Isaiah feel small and like I’m in charge is on my list of don’t-do’s, although, unfortunately, it’s my natural reaction sometimes. I want us to have the same last name. I refuse to make/ask him to take mine. Ergo – I’ll have to get my plethora of monogrammed towels and robes changed when I marry. (kidding). I aspire to have equality in our relationship without competing for top-dog, which is what I think, sometimes can happen.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes – by Joan Baez: “Instead of getting hard ourselves and trying to compete, women should try and give their best qualities to men – bring them softness, teach them how to cry.”

Did you take your husband’s last name/are you planning to?

Why/why not?

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. September 25, 2010 4:24 pm

    Nope I didn’t take his last name: it doesn’t sound right with mine and I really like my last name. Those were kind of my only reasons.
    You [and Lois ๐Ÿ™‚ ] are right; feminism IS about having a choice. I feel strongly about partners being equals, but that’s not necessarily WHY I’m not taking his name. It’s part of our vows and part of our daily living that we treat each other as an individual and an equal. And as equals, we can make our own choices and keeping my last name was one of them. Kudos to you for doing the same!

  2. September 25, 2010 6:00 pm

    Haha! Great minds think about the same topics at the same times! I’m all about feminism equaling choice, and you have plenty of good reasons for the choice you are making. Since I’m older and established in my career, my choice is a little bit different.

  3. September 25, 2010 7:59 pm

    I interviewed a bunch of women on this topic and thought it might be useful…. http://www.wedding-scoops.com/2010/03/to-change-or-not-to-change-your-surname.html

  4. September 26, 2010 11:50 am

    @Davanie – Thanks for sharing – great vows. Everyone’s different, I definitely agree on that!

    @Sarah – Definitely! As soon as I hopped on over to your blog, I was all – “Oh no! I hope this doesn’t look like some crazy response a day later! I agree, every situation is different for a lot of reasons!

    @Lauren – Thanks for sharing!

  5. September 27, 2010 6:09 am

    I took his last name. I love his family though. I kept my maiden name as a middle name just cause I love it. I agree with everything you said too. I am established in any way under my maiden name. I don’t want our kids to have the confusing whose name is what business (that was a killer when addressing wedding invites, I definitely addressed some incorrectly). Good luck!

    • September 27, 2010 11:08 am

      Definitely, I agree. The kids part is a huge piece! I guess I kind of feel like, ONLY personally, for myself, if I changed my mind to keep my last name, the only reason I could find for myself to do so was to keep myself in tact…keep my whole identity still out there…but when you marry, you don’t get that, you know? You’re definitely still a whole person, but you’re merging lifestyle and life, really…you know? Thanks, Lisa.

  6. September 27, 2010 4:24 pm

    WORD.

    i really THOUGHT about my choice. but certain ladies give me looks when i say i took his name. as if it means i’m a thoughtless drone, just doing what is expected of me. bullcrap.

    (i kinda wanna read that book now, out of curiosity)

    • September 27, 2010 8:56 pm

      DEFINITELY, yeah check it out and report back, haha….so I don’t have to reread it. ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s what mainly brought about the post, that people were giving me a hard time about wanting to take Isaiah’s name…you know?

  7. September 27, 2010 7:19 pm

    Family Guy, for all its offensiveness and crassness, drops some valuable wisdom from time, and this is one of those cases. I think that the simple act of being able to choose is really what people are fighting for in most cases, feminism included. Also, it’s not as if you’re blindly taking Isaiah’s last name just because of tradition – you’ve clearly thought about it, talked about it, and heck, even blogged about it. You’ve made a choice, and that’s what’s important.

    • September 27, 2010 8:57 pm

      Yes, I agree. Family Guy definitely has its moments…Thanks, Bret, I definitely have made my choice, and I WON’T be shaken, OKAY!? Jeez…kidding. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. September 28, 2010 12:12 pm

    damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    and lois is right. feminism is about choice. what is best for me is not best for you.

    oh! and i just thought of this today…. a friend of mine and his wife took his mom’s maiden name. before he married he had a very common vietnamese last name. and since his mom’s family name was not being carried on by anyone else, both he and his wife decided to take it.

    at the time, their choice didn’t really impact me, but thinking about the pressures behind name changing and the reasons we do it – i see how awesome this decision is for them.

    just thought i’d share ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. September 29, 2010 5:57 pm

    I have so many thoughts swirling through my head right now that I am afraid of bombarding you with nonsense. So I’ll be brief and leave 5 points:

    1. I adopted my husband’s last name. I had some attachment issues after years of not feeling anything. On the other hand, my husband loves and adores the history behind his name. Win-win

    2. I never felt my name was my entire identity anyway.

    3. That Family Guy episode with Gloria Ironbox is definitely one of their better episodes.

    4. I am not a feminist. I am a womanist. (To explain that would be opening up another can of worms.)

    5. Yay for choices!

  10. September 30, 2010 10:45 am

    Thanks for this post. It’s been two months now for us (wow – there’s a dose of reality to make me finish the thank you cards!) & I still have people telling me they’re surprised I took my husband’s name. I used to work in an industry where I had a public persona & my name was well known. If that was still the case, I likely wouldn’t have ‘just’ taken his name – a period of hyphenation would’ve happened, with maybe an eventual switch. But when I made up my mind, it was for similar reasons. I want our kids to have one last name. I came from a large family with a solid grasp of its roots – my kids will know those stories, no matter what their last name is. He comes from a smaller family & has a tradition associated with his name (he’s a “the Third” in name, though not in type!), so I feel it’s a sign of commitment and love that we both use his name. We did toy with people for awhile though … telling them we were going to create a ‘new’ name for our family, a mix of both our last names. Some of our friends still refer to us as The MacMortons. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • September 30, 2010 6:00 pm

      Definitely. Crazy style….I have tons of people telling me that I “should” or “shouldn’t” whatever that means… you know how it goes..

      Thanks for your input, miss lady.

  11. September 30, 2010 12:56 pm

    I find that there’s so much snobbery attached to the name change thing – so many bloggers seem to have the attitude “well, I went to grad school, so of course I wouldn’t change my name” as if it’s something that only the lower class wifey type would do. It makes me crazy.

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