Posted by: Chelsea Novak | March 19, 2007

A rose by any other name

While this past weekend was pretty much a lovely one for me, I have to report on an incident. One that got me so angry that I actually couldn’t eat. If you know me, you know it must have been serious.

We had the experience of some rather interesting company at dinner on Saturday. Some of the strangest topic choices I’ve ever witnessed at a wedding, which through a chain of events I haven’t quite put together yet, ended up with an older feminist very openly criticizing me for changing my name when I got married. A woman, who had only known me for two hours.

It genuinely shocks me that this is an issue. I’ve taken so much flack for changing my name after marriage and I’m baffled by it every time I experience it. I had a colleague shout at me that I was selling out my family, but he gets shout-y about things like lunch, so I didn’t take it to heart. Another friend who was recently married has also experienced the name-changing backlash. She had so much of it, that when she told me that she was taking her husband’s name, she told me in a whispered confession of guilt.

I may have my history wrong, but I’m pretty sure that those who were advocates for equality for women, were working for a world where women were free to choose to do what they wanted, free to do what was best for them as individuals and to not be forced into a mold set out by a patriarchal society. Isn’t forcing women into the same kind of mold (albeit a different shape) just as bad? It is to me.

I did enjoy, as she went off about how I have abandoned my own identity for a man’s (with my husband sitting RIGHT beside me), pointing out that had I married I woman I would have also changed my name. And it’s not because I don’t love my own family, I just feel, that for me, its important that I have the same last name as my spouse. My name is an identifier, not my identity. Sure, if it really mattered to me I could (in theory) push for my spouse adopting my last name. In practice, I don’t think anyone had any illusions about which name we’d be taking.

Does it bother or offend me if other women keep their names or hyphenate? I honestly could care less. All that matters to me is that they have chosen to do what they want to do. I applaud their choice, whatever it may be. I’d like to think that people are pleased for me in that I have made a choice that I am happy with.

I can’t even begin to understand the rationale behind the treatment I got, but I think I’ll just mark it down as some people are just argumentative jackasses and drink too much wine sometimes.




  1. Just someone with an axe to grind, is my guess. I’m glad you stood up for yourself and your decision. (I still think there are some inequalities between men and women, but harping on about this sort of thing to make women feel guilty for their choices is really counterproductive!)

  2. I don’t think things are equal between the sexes yet either, but there are more important issues involved in gender equality than my last name.

  3. Criticizing a woman for choosing to take her husband’s name even though she now has the option not to is kind of like criticizing Jon and Kelly for having a heterosexual marriage instead of two homosexual ones. Hopefully, she didn’t go that far.

  4. You should have turned right around and given her a lesson on cosmetics.

  5. mmm hmmm, i fail to see how choosing one’s husband’s name is *less* patriarchal than being saddled with one’s father’s.

  6. Ooh, good point anonymous(2). Let’s all change our names to our mothers’. Did you ask Old Lady Feminism from whence her last name came?

  7. Personally, I think “Old Lady Feminism” is a great name, especially you’re in the mood to demonize somebody. It makes her sound like a “Batman” villain based on Susan B. Anthony.

  8. See, all I could wonder is if “Old Lady Feminism” would have any kind of relationship with “Old Man Winter” or “Old Man River”…

    Sorry, I’ve had a lot of sugar today.

  9. And that is why you cannot call yourself a feminist!

  10. I know (not personally, however) who this discussion revolves around. Funny story — her partner came up to Jon, Jon’s father and I later during the night and commented that we have “very conservative” friends! We didn’t ask what he was referring to, but I’m glad to know the story. Ugh. Sorry for sitting you there…..

    Very proud of my choice to be:
    Kelly Krashinsky

  11. I’m proud of your choice too and I’m so glad that you and I can make it a genuine choice. Isn’t that awesome?

    Yeah, I don’t think they liked us very much. As soon as we sat down, the first question she asked us was “So are you all Liberals?” and it all pretty much went downhill from there conversation wise.

    It makes me think that you had one of the most fun weddings ever, cause I got told off during dinner, but still had one of the most fun nights in recent memory. 🙂

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