Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What's In A Name?

I kept my maiden name when I married and even gave my child my last name. Radical? If you think so it's evidence of inequality, for no one thinks it's radical for a man to keep his own last name when he marries or gives his children his last name.

Is it possible to maintain our equality and still have a cohesive family unit? Yes! It just requires a little creative thinking.

If all girls received their mother's last names and all boys received their father's last names and everyone kept their own last name and did not change it when they married, then both sides of the family would be preserved in the genealogical family tree for generations to come.*

In terms of holiday cards, making reservations at restaurants and other such occasions where a single family name is helpful, we created one. This name is not used for legal documents just for social circumstances of convenience.

My maiden name is also my surname. I've been accused of still having a man's last name thereby defeating the purpose of keeping one's last name for sake of equality. Is that true?

My last name is also my mother's last name and both her mother's and father's last name and her grandmother's on her father's side's last name. It may have originated with a man but it has since been passed down through five generations of women. At what point does it deserve the right to be referred to as a woman's last name?

People used to drink the beverage, Coke, because it had cocaine in it. It's still called Coke but it no longer contains cocaine. Is it still considered a drink with cocaine in it? Of course not. The same name evolved into something different, so too can a woman's last name.

Taking a man's last name may be a tradition, but it's also an example of inequality the likes of which may be responsible for such socially accepted atrocities as gendercide (see Female Gendercide for more info).

Every choice we make has the potential to create significant ripples. I believe that once a woman knows her power, she is compelled to use it for the greatest good of all concern.

word count: 356

*Naming Ourselves, Naming Our Children: Resolving the Last Name Dilemma (Paperback) by Sharon M. G. Lebell