Now that I’ve sufficiently demolished the case for changing one’s name, which I must confess, I find to be a very flimsy case indeed, here’s the case for keeping one’s name. It’s a sign of autonomy in a world where women are still regarded as inferior and are expected to defer to their husbands. It requires that you do no paperwork. It requires that you make no announcements about your new name, or that you ever have to visit the Social Security Administration related to your name. Your old friends will still be able to find you. All the work that you’ve already done under your name will continue to be identified with your current self. You will be, in your small way, working to change the culture of male-dominated families and male-dominated societies. Even those dreaded questions, that people will ask you, will give you an opportunity to present a different model and advance the cause of gender equality.”
Apologies if this sounds a bit cynical, but when I read diatribes like these that essentially force one feminist’s view on the rest of us, it really, really bothers me. It fails to take into account the multitude of perspectives that exist, and the choices that women make based on their own individual contexts. One size fits all doesn’t work in feminism, nor does it seem to work in life as a whole.
What really tickles me is the last line of this post,
Plus, you’ll be kind of an iconoclast, until everyone else starts doing it. And who wants to follow tradition? Come on, we all know tradition sucks.
Is it just me, or does this sound an awful lot like a person justifying her own decisions to take part in patriarchal traditions (i.e. marriage) while shutting down others’ decisions on whether or not they want to take part in others? In the scheme of things, I personally believe that the institution or marriage is in itself a far more problematic legacy of patriarchy than the name change that may follow.
This post wouldn’t have bothered me had it been presented as one woman’s decision regarding her name after marriage. I fully respect a person’s right to change or keep their name in whatever situation. But I do take issue with someone trying to impose her belief on me in a way that comes off as a holier-than-thou mockery of my personal decision.
Intellectual debate doesn’t stem from put-downs; it comes from mutually respectful dialogue.