Thursday, October 17, 2013

Name-Taking Thoughts

I read this great article on how at marriage demanding a woman changes her name is completely sexist. (Adult language in the article - fyi.)   I thought I'd throw in my two cents.

When I was approaching my wedding day, I thought about every combination of name change and not change.
Jessica Jean Campbell - stay
Jessica Jean Swanson  - his name
Jessica Jean Campbell-Swanson - mine first hyphen
Jessica Jean Swanson-Campbell - his first hyphen
even toyed around with:  Jessica Jean Swanbell and Nick Swanbell!  ha.
Shout out to BSM! Thanks for the handiwork! 
Nick is a forward-thinking, non-sexist guy and pretty secure in his manhood.  He is one of the 3.4% of men that would be up for taking his new wife's last name.  He thought, "Nick Campbell" had a nice ring to it.  I thought, and he agreed, he should stay Swanson.  We also thought about hyphenating both of our names - ultimately we decided against that as well ... I don't remember why....   The point it - he was totally open to it.  I got to choose without pressure what my name would be.

It makes me proud to say that even the kids were up for taking my name. When Oliver quipped, "I want to be Campbell!" I about died! I'm not sure how much they really considered it - could have just been a funny laugh in Target one day.  However, that they are also open to the idea that the man and family take the woman's name as opposed to an unopen demand to take the SWANSON name was really great.  I'm glad we're raising kids open to these ideas.  I was also reminded how hate and control are taught.

I ultimately decided to go with Campbell-Swanson because I am me.  I am a Campbell.  I love my family, who we are, who we've worked to be and that doesn't go away when I get married.  With many many friends I've gone by "Campbell" only - so changing my last name would be almost as weird as changing my first name.  I am Campbell as much as I am Jessica.  However - in getting married - I join with Nick and his name and his family and who they are.  So I'm not just  Campbell anymore.  I am now also Swanson.  It made sense to me to be Campbell-Swanson.  Nick followed that thinking and was why he wanted to be Campbell-Swanson too.  I think that's why we both like SWANBELL so much - we are one.  Cha is here with me while I'm writing and she says she feels like she's a little bit Swanbell too!  We are family.  It is romantic and though we're forming our own way - the traditions we make of being our family are meaningful.

Moving from that line of thinking and to the article more directly -

The writer is clearly fired up - I love it - I hate those lurking double-standards and lord knows I'm not about to be anyone's property.  At the same, I wonder how many people are aware of the double standard.  It's my experience that often when people refer to things as "tradition" they haven't logically examined the meaning - they feel it is right because that's "how it is" that's how they were raised.  I hope people read that article.  The main point is:  Women should be free to choose their names when they get married. It's that simple.  As she says - there is no real threat to the man if the woman keeps her name.  Why must the woman's identity be subsumed to the man's?

Growing up in a religious culture, I've heard it all:  The man is the head of the household. etc.  barf. I'm tired of having these archaic ideas hold sway in culture today.  Why must women diminish themselves? There is nothing wrong with strong, competent women. Marriage is a partnership.  Each partner has a time to lead, to listen, to get their way, and a time to compromise.  Each partner has strengths and weaknesses. From my experience - control in any culture - in any institution - political, religious, economic is based on fear.  This is no different in the church than it is in marriage.  The oppression of women is out of fear.  Control is the opposite of trust.  Insecurity leads to control which breaks relationships.  Your name does not make your relationship.  A resistance to changing your name does not mean you'll be a bad wife.  IN no way does taking your husband's name mean you're going to have a good marriage, good sex or be a good partner; you can ask anyone who's gotten divorced about that.  The point here is:  taking or not taking a name has no effect on the relationship outside someone's demands.

 As the author says - if women want to take their husband's last name in full - more power to you!  You're a unit!  That's fun, romantic, comforting - etc.  But forcing a woman to do something, you as a man are not willing to do, is a controlling, oppressive double-standard that perpetuates misogyny.  

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