I am really, really excited about getting married. I am excited about having a husband and being a wife and sharing everything and being partners. I really am.
But I am not excited about being named Sara Miller. Not at all. I love, love, LOVE my last name, and I am very conflicted about changing it. I've been thinking about it for a long time and I thought I would've had it all sorted out by now, but I still don't know what to do.
In college, I did a lot of reading about feminism and came to strongly identify with its philosophy. (I am not talking about man-bashing or female supremacy here, but actual feminism, which is really about equality, overcoming barriers that oppress both genders. Just wanted to clear that up.) I became aware of all the "rules" that society gives to women (and men) and the ways that I obey them without question. I began to realize how many of our cultural traditions are rooted in a patriarchal system that was based on the idea that women are property of men. I decided, among other things, that if I got married, I would not change my name. Why should I have to? I am not becoming property of my husband anymore than he is becoming property of me. And no one would ever think to expect a husband to change his name! Why not? Why does it have to be me? Especially when I have the coolest name in the whole world. It was settled.
And to a large extent, this is still how I feel. Except.... I want to be a mom someday. I want to have a family, and this seems to create name issues that I'd rather not deal with. If we have kids, whose name do they get? In most cases, they get the dad's name (which is just as logical as the mom's name, unless you give them different names, which I think is weird.) Do I really want to have a different name than everyone in my future family? Do I want to be a part of the Miller family but not really be a Miller myself? I'm not sure I feel great about this idea.
There is always the hyphen, I'm told. I could be Sara Montague-Miller. But that's a bit of a mouthful and will annoy people to no end, I'm sure. There's also the option of keeping my name and hyphenating the names of the (hypothetical) kids. But on top of the mouthful issue, this creates a whole new set of problems for when they get married. If I had a daughter named so-in-so Montague-Miller who was getting married, she would be having the same conflict I'm having now but with the added problem of a third last name! It's just a mess.
Because of all these kid-related difficulties (not that kids are coming along anytime soon, mind you), I have been trying to convince myself to just suck it up and change my name. It makes things easier for everyone.
But it's participating in a system that I truly dislike. And yet, more recently it has occurred to me that keeping my name does not really get me out of the patriarchy system at all. My name is Montague because of my dad, after all. Even my mom's "maiden name" (I am not a fan of this term) is there because of her dad. So no matter how far back I could theoretically go to find a name to change to, it would still be a "family name" only because it was the name of a man. So if I'm going to have a man's name, maybe it would make more sense for it to be my husband's name and not my dad's.
Except that my (almost) husband's name is Miller and my dad's name is Montague, and it is quite clear which one is better.
My dear brother, who is far more conservative than I am, and also quite an eloquent writer, tried to ease my mind by telling me that I will always be a Montague because "that branding is internal, and eternal." This may be true, but I remain jealous of his male privilege of being "allowed" (expected) to keep the external branding, too.
I guess it seems like I'm still leaning toward "sucking it up," but it's really hard letting go of being Sara Ames Montague. Is that weird?
I would love to know your thoughts.