When talk of the wedding comes up it is inevitable that someone will ask me if I'm taking Michael's last name. It's a fair question to ask. I appreciate people asking. It's funny their response when I tell them I don't know yet. It's still a hotly debated issue with us. He wants me to take his name. I want to keep the name I have. That's what one calls a little bit of a disconnect.
We've discussed me taking his name, we've discussed me keeping my name, we've discussed hyphenation, we've discussed both of us hyphenating (ok- I discussed it.) Why shouldn't I keep my name? It's the name I was given and it's the name I've had for 28 years. Why should I change it simply because I am making my relationship a legal bond and not just an emotional bond? Michael and I are married in almost every sense. We have a joint checking account, we live together, know each other in the biblical sense and I clean his shit. No one expects me to change my name in these circumstances. If we stayed unmarried but had children, owned property together or were able to put one on the other's health insurance then no one would expect me to change my name. Why? Simply because we wouldn't be married.
Michael feels that in order for a family to be a family, for the children to feel that their parents are a unit, the wife needs to take the name of the husband. He argues that our children wouldn't understand that I'm part of their family if I don't have the same name. Family is such an easy concept my cat understands it. I seriously doubt my children will be unable to grasp the concept my self-licking cat can grasp. Is a family defined by name? By marriage? Are unmarried people who live as a family unit less of a family than married people? No. So why would married people with different names be any different?
Taking the husband's name comes from the same patriarchal traditions as the father "giving away" the daughter at the ceremony. The daughter/wife-to-be used to be considered property and the marriage ceremony was the cementation of the transfer of property from one family to the next. It was a way for rich people to keep everything with-in the rich people. The tradition that women are no longer property is a recent development. And only in Western cultures.
Though I have very strong feelings about this I really don't give a shit about women who change their names. It's their prerogatives. But I don't understand why I'm the one who needs to give up my identity. Why I'm the one who has to make the massive shift. It's fucked up and I'm apparently the only soon to be married or recently married person in my immediate vicinity who feels like this. I guess I'm just old school feminist. And I'm feeling pretty lonely right now.