Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Change Your Name...Or Else!

Here in America, most women take their husband's last name when they get married. Not a big deal, I took my husband's last name and am fine with it. However, it's an entirely different matter to LEGALLY REQUIRE a woman to change her name, as half of a recent survey panel (815 people) said they would be a-okay with.

Dear Survey Respondents: ARE YOU SERIOUS?

I wonder what they think should be the punishment for a woman keeping her name. I mean it would be breaking the law... so, jail time? A fine until she changes it? A 3 hour wait in the social security office plus hours of hassle changing it on various legal documents? Oh wait, that's the punishment FOR changing it..

Seriously, what if she just doesn't want to change it? What if she wants to hyphenate it? What if she and her husband want to join forces and combine their names into some super cool combination of their names celebrity style?? (i.e. Kimberly BOWARD??) I actually have read of couples doing that, which seems kinda silly, but I don't think they should be put in jail for it.

I can see why it's easier to take one last name. Let's say I went the hyphenated route and then my daughter, since she will be a feminist of course, also wants to hyphenate her name, and then HER kids could have 4 last names... yeah, it could get kinda crazy. Plus it would make tracing family history hard. I get it.

But I also get why a woman would want to keep her given name, especially if she's a professional who has made contacts and relationships over the years, all who know her by a certain name. Or say a woman is famous, maybe she is a writer. If she changed her name, readers might be confused and not buy her books because they see a different name on the cover and don't associate it with her.

There's a whole host of reasons for or against keeping your given name, but it should most definitely be a woman's choice. But according to this survey, half of Americans don't see it that way, which is kinda sad. Also another sad aspect of this article were the reasons people who don't think women should have a choice in the matter gave. The study author was quoted as saying, “Americans don’t want much government intervention in family life, so for 50 percent of Americans to feel this way was interesting." (unless we are talking about teh gays. Then government should totally get involved. Can't have them having families...)

She continues: “They told us that women should lose their own identity when they marry and become a part of the man and his family. This was a reason given by many.”

I don't have a problem with the "becoming a part of my husband's family" part. I feel honored to be part of his family and I love them. But he has also become part of MY family. I do have a serious problem with the "losing your identity" part. I think it's just sad. You don't have to lose your identity when you get married.

This almost makes me want to change my name BACK to Borbely. Unfortunately, I have gotten used to NOT having to spell my last name to people every time I say it. Plus I don't want to have to wait 3 hours at the Social Security office again. But I am still shaking my fist!! (and shaking my head...seriously, LEGAL REQUIREMENT?!) One could only hope that if the people who checked "yes" for "legal requirement" REALLY thought about it, they would realize how dumb that actually would be.

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