So, I figured that one day I would get around to telling you all why I kept my last name when I married but had no idea when that one day would be. Then, I came across a press release regarding this very issue, so I thought that one day would be now.
First, details taken from the press release:
In a national survey, 71 percent of Americans said women should change their surname upon marriage. And half supported the idea that the government should require this.
Researchers from Indiana University and University of Utah say these findings come despite a clear shift to more gender-neutral language, such as “chairperson.”
“The figures were a bit sobering for us because there seems to be change in so many areas. If names are a core aspect of our identity, this is important,” said Brian Powell, professor of sociology at IU Bloomington. “There are all these reports and indicators that families are changing, that men are contributing more, that we’re moving toward a more equal family, yet there’s no indication that we’re seeing a similar move to equality when it comes to names.”
Somewhat contradictory, almost half the people surveyed said it would be “OK” for a man to change his name to that of his wife. But for respondents, male name change was so implausible that they off-handedly or hesitantly agreed it would be OK. For example, Powell said, one man laughed as he responded: “Sure, why not. Hey in America, anything goes!” Others said that it was OK because: “Sure, a man should be able to do it because he’s a man.”
Advocates of women changing their names emphasize a family and marital identity for women, indicating one family name makes more sense from a family and societal point of view. Name change critics focus on the importance of women’s independent identities and to the ways they benefit individually, such as professionally, by keeping their own name. They also think the decision should be left up to the women.
Back to me:
I should start by saying that I don’t think there is just one way to approach this siutation. In fact, I think names are so incredibly personal that it should indeed be up to each woman to make the decision that is right for her. I made the decision for myself. It was a decision that was initially hard for BF, but one that was imperative to me and one that he wholeheartedly agreed with when I explained to him what my thoughts were about changing my name and how they weren’t a personal reflection on him or our relationship.
For me, Rosie Molinary is who I am. I can’t imagine going through life with a different name– a name that did not follow me on my journey into developing as the person that I am today– a name that would identify my husband as my definition and not my family of origin.
Further, being Rosie Molinary identifies my ethnicity. My culture is a significant part of who I am. I don’t always look obviously Latino to people who meet me, but, sometimes, my full name brings about that conversation. Even more important, being a person of color has informed how I move through the world, changing my name could have changed how I might have gone on to experience the world and possibly minimized the significance of my name to my identity.
Moreover, I had already published some work as Rosie Molinary and, truth be told, I love my name- it suits me (although I was far Rosier on more sleep and with less years on me but that’s another conversation). In reality, all those things added up to the fact that I wanted to remain Rosie Molinary and the ability to make that decision– to think through the scenarios and come out the other side with the solution that was best for me– is what I think feminism is all about. I was named Rosemary (no middle name) Molinary a week after my birth (that’s another story in and of itself) and, unfortunately, the way that it is pronounced in the South means that my name rhymes. When I was a girl, I used to think that one day I would have to let Rosie go and become Rosemary, that that is what grown-ups did. I thought it would have to happen in high school and then as I approached 9th grade, I couldn’t put my head around becoming Rosemary. When I have to give my legal name for airline tickets or 1,000 adoption documents, I feel like an imposter. “But I’m not Rosemary,” I want to say. “I am Rosie.” Rosie Molinary to be exact– married or unmarried, grown-up or not.