A Blog Around The Clock

Times are changing and the variety is endless. See what Anton and Erin, The Woomers and Jenny F. Scientist ended up doing and why.

Then, read the posts and comment threads by Amanda and on Chaos Theory.


  1. #1 csrster
    March 29, 2007

    The Jenny Scientist one is good, but I found the Anton and Erin one pretty vomworthy.

    My wife and I took the easy way out and kept our own names. The kids have my surname as a compensation for me having to live in her country 🙂

  2. #2 Jennifer Ouellette
    March 29, 2007

    I think the point of all the various takes is that this is an intensely personal decision, and it’s going to be a little bit different for every couple. It’s a shame, though, that Anton and Erin’s family were so irrational and ugly about the matter.

    When I got engaged last fall, I never expected the whole name change thing to be issue. And in a sense, it wasn’t. I’m keeping my last name, not just with my fiance’s blessing, but at his insistence (very much a mutual decision), and since I’ve always been the “weird” one in my family, that decision came as no surprise to them. As a professional writer, this makes sense, because my reputation has been built on my “maiden name” (itself a patriarchal term — I prefer “birth name” except i’m adopted and was given an entirely different name at birth, so this could just add to the confusion).

    But initially, expecting I’d have to compromise, I said I would be willing to adopt his name socially, if he wished it. Fortunately for me, he didn’t. Not at all. 🙂 Because when I really started thinking aout it, I realized that it WOULD kind of bother me to be referred to as “Mrs. John Doe” — a.k.a, a spousal adjunct — on a regular basis, rather than as a full-fledged member of society. However, I also don’t feel the need to bend over backwards to “make a statement” to the contrary or to “stick it to the patriarchy” when I get married. The patriarchy exists, no question. I just choose to “rebel” against it not by getting angry and ranting at the unfairness of it all, but to live my life according to how I see fit, and stubbornly resist all pressure to the contrary. (And there is pressure, oh yes!)

    That’s my choice. It’s a personal one. I would never consider a woman who chose to change her name a “bad” feminist. The real point should be: nobody should be judged harshly for their name decision, whether by traditionalists or progressives, and state/federal laws should make it the same degree of difficulty/cost for both men and women to change their names. That’s what freedom of choice and equality is all about it.

    I think we should expect to see these kinds of fracases from time to time, and see it for what it is: growing pains, as society learns to shed the familiar shackles of an outdated paradigm…

  3. #3 Anton Zuiker
    March 29, 2007

    Bora, thanks for the link.

    csrster, what does ‘vomworthy’ mean? Never seen that word.

    Jennifer, my family members weren’t so much irrational and ugly as shocked and confused. Though I should add that it was my female relatives who reacted the strongest – my dad told me simply, “I don’t care what name you choose, because I know how unique you are.” And my grandfather had a nickname for himself, Frank the Beachcomber, so I’m sure he understood self-identity.

  4. #4 greensmile
    March 29, 2007

    Thanks again Bora. You must read an absolute ton of blogs to find all the scattered posts that add up to minitrend.

    I haven’t yet encountered this. In my own family, the closest we get is my Sister in law who simply didn’t change her name…which bothers nobody. and the last names are doled out to the children according to gender..son afer dad, daughter after mom.

    amazing how mere convention can seem like a solid granite wall of an obstacle.

  5. #5 Melusine
    March 30, 2007

    I have to agree with everything Jennifer said. When marriage was in the air for me, I had no intention of changing my name, not only because I think it’s an archaic and patriarchal tradition – but I like my name. I’m the only one I can find with my name combo. It becomes the catalyst to some great conversations with strangers, and somehow after years of having such a foreign name I can’t imagine changing it to “Smith” or something simple; I feel like it would wipe out this whole history of me, let alone the interesting comments. But like Jennifer, if someone referred to me as Mrs. Smith, I wouldn’t get all huffy about it. Nor would it have mattered what name my kids would have taken.

    Traditionally Greek girls are not given middle names, as it is assumed they will marry and acquire their husband’s name. I think giving middle names is a bit of a useless tradition, too. My father didn’t like the idea that I’d keep my name until I reframed it as, “You have no sons to carry on your name.” That made him feel a little better because to him it meant that I was proud of my name, regardless of my biological heritage (whatever that may be).

    Also, I remember a 22 year-old guy I worked with who had married a girl eight years older than him and she kept her name (her name was also a well-known Houston name). He was a smart, hip guy, but he felt somewhat embarrassed by it because older conservative men gave him the impression that he was wimpy for allowing it…”She wouldn’t take your name, she’s going to be one of those feminazis…wear the pants in the family.” (This is Texas, and it was a conservative industry, let alone his father was a preacher.) Really, isn’t is all a bit superfluous? Does changing one’s name ensure the marriage is successful? Does it mean there’s any less love? I told him, she married you – what does it matter what anybody else thinks at the end of the day? It bothered me that he felt that way mainly because others made him feel that way – like he wasn’t “man” enough. ~ugh~

  6. #6 Blake Stacey
    March 30, 2007

    My mother is what they used to call a Lucy Stoner (though I’m sure that term is at least two waves of feminism out of date today). She kept her name; I got my father’s last name for mine and my mother’s for my middle moniker. This caused a few amusing incidents while I was growing up: some bureaucrat would ask over their desk, “And how long have you had custody of the child?”

    “Um, since he was born.”

    All in all, though, the story behind my name isn’t nearly as awesome as that of Mark C. Chu-Carroll:

    Let us, for a moment, consider my name. Mark Chu-Carroll. Where do you suppose “Chu-Carroll” came from?

    Obviously, it’s a combination of the last names of me and my wife before we got married. But why “Chu-Carroll” rather than “Carroll-Chu”? Is it for aesthetics? No. The real reason is far geekier than anything like mere aesthetics.

    No. The real reason why we chose “Chu-Carroll” is… Bibliographies.

    When we were married, my wife had more publications than I did. And so we decided to use “Chu-Carroll” so that people doing literature searches for her name would be more likely to find her papers, because “Jennifer Chu-Carroll” would appear immediately after “Jennifer Chu” in any bibliographic listing likely to contain her work; whereas “Jennifer Carroll-Chu” would be separated by some distance, and would be more likely to be missed.

    So my last name was chosen based on how it would be alphabetized in bibliographies.

    I wish I could be like MarkCC when I grow up. Unfortunately, the probability that I will get married seems to fall exponentially with the coolness I ascribe to bibliographies. . . .

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