May 24, 2011

"Are you supposed to be Suzie Doozie, the fearsome litigator during work, then put on an apron and magically transform into Suzie Homemaker at nights and weekends?"

"What's the point of that schzoid existence? Will your kids be better adjusted because you share daddy's name? Shouldn't they respect you for your independence?"

Vivia Chen on the trend of women keeping their maiden name professionally but adopting their husbands' names for social/personal matters.

I've gotten married twice, and both times I kept my original name. The first time, it was 1973, and my reasons were: 1. I strongly identify with my name, 2. I imagined myself becoming a significant artist with that signature, 3. "Althouse" was more distinctive and more balanced with "Ann" than my then-husband's last name,  4. Feminism, and 5. I thought keeping your name was the wave of the future, and I didn't want to be stuck on the end of the old wave. My ex-husband's name was also highly expressive of a tradition that was not mine, but I would have been offended if anyone had accused me of rejecting the name for that reason. In the years of that marriage, which continued until 1988, I rankled at being called Mrs./Ms. + [presumed married name], and I did not always completely hide my disdain for the (to me) backward individuals who assumed a mother's last name is the same as her children's.

The second time I got married, in 2009, I seriously considered adopting my new husband's last name, but once again, I did not. I saw good reasons on both sides. For keeping Althouse: 1. I'd been Althouse for so long, it would be weird to be anyone but Althouse, 2. It would be a lot of work changing my name on everything (when you can still call me Mrs. Meade whenever you want), 3. I have done a lot of writing with the name Althouse on it, and 4. Having failed to align my name with my sons' name, it seemed wrong to take my husband's name the second time around. But I came close, because I'm not starchily ideological about names. It's more about feelings and aesthetics right now. "Meade" is an aesthetically pleasing name, but "Ann Meade" is too plain, and Meade is Meade, not me. But I did feel that it would be a unique and thrilling expression of love to take the name! And I'm perfectly happy to be called Mrs. Meade — or Ms. Meade or Professor Meade — by anyone, at any time. It wouldn't make me feel "schzoid" (or schizoid!) or make me worry about overly housewifely or whatever it is Ms. Chen is concerned about.

136 comments:

Fred4Pres said...

I like the quote. Actually, I prefer Suzie Doozie persona, at night. She can be Suzie Homemaker with the kids. But that is me.

Ann, you can call yourself whatever you prefer. I knew a girl with the last name Liberty. She was not going to change it, and with a last name like that why should you?

Trooper York said...

I will always think of you as the evil blogger lady.

Scott M said...

Did you guys exchange rings, AA?

Hoosier Daddy said...

Learn how to change a tire or open a jar of pickles without man then talk to me about independence.

Fred4Pres said...

I like alt bier. Lager yeasts can be boring.

Fred4Pres said...

More marriages would be happier if more couples "magically transformed" between work, family time, and couple time.

caplight said...

If Ann Meade is to plain how about, Annie Meade? Has a nice southern sort of lilt to it. Given that Meade has already called you "the Missus" today I think it'll work.

I thought I read that in Canada they don't change names anymore. Not sure if that's true or not but I think I heard that.

Trooper York said...

I think most people who meet Ms. Chen would call her the same name.

Beyotch.

Henry said...

Of course one outcome of this is that the kids may feel no attachment to either parent's name. In which case they may be happy to take their spouse's name.

I've noticed another interesting thing. Couples with hyphenated names who drop the hyphenated part professionally. Sometimes both do it, sometimes just one.

Scott M said...

Learn how to change a tire or open a jar of pickles without man then talk to me about independence.

Fuck that. (hot-button issue, can you tell?) Where are the droves of women marching on every local post office demanding...DEMANDING...to be allowed to sign up for selective service?

Once you aren't considered a criminal for NOT doing something when you turn 18, then we'll talk about equality.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

When I first got married, the idea of changing my name, I don't know, irked me somehow (also, I was really frustrated with my delightful but sometimes overbearing mother-in-law about some wedding-related things, and I must admit that the idea of sharing her name bugged me, however immature that may seem.) So I put it off, and put it off, and put it off.

Finally, after 8 years of marriage, it occurred to me that if I was going to change it, I needed to do it then, while I was in law school, so I wouldn't have to worry about it after I'd established my career. It was confusing at first (a lot of people who knew me well enough to know that I'd been married, but not that I hadn't changed my name gave me some confused/sympathetic looks, as if attempting to decide whether it was OK to ask if I'd gotten divorced.) But it's good, now, and easier to have his name. But, like Mrs. Meade above, it didn't bother me to be called "Ms. His-last-name."

As for kids (the main reason I decided to change), sure, it's not going to traumatize them or anything, but it would be weird to me to have only one family member have a different last name. Why make them fuss with it, or even give them the slightest occasion to doubt family connections or commitments?

- Lyssa

PS: I'd be in favor of merging names to form a new one (hubby refused that one), but I hate hate hate clunky hyphenated names. Too much, too silly and fussy. Also, hubby and I both have unpronoucable ethnic last names- to try to hyphenate them together would be pure evil.

Scott M said...

I've noticed another interesting thing. Couples with hyphenated names who drop the hyphenated part professionally. Sometimes both do it, sometimes just one

Something I've noticed, aside from hyphenated offspring growing up and meeting other hyphenated offspring (how do you fit four surnames on any form?), is that most of the Boomer hyphenated women I grill about it end up admitting that, looking back, it wasn't worth the effort and end up letting their kids take their father's name in the end. Only rarely do they admit it was a mistake, but that's human nature, isn't it?

lyssalovelyredhead said...

I've noticed another interesting thing. Couples with hyphenated names who drop the hyphenated part professionally.

I don't hyphenate, but I changed my maiden name to my middle name. When I first started in law, I noticed that a lot of male attorneys used their middle names (as in "John Paul Jones") in formal correspondance, so I did as well. Then I started worrying that people would think that it was a hyphenated name and try to call me Ms. (really hard to pronounce last name)-(equally hard to pronounce last name).

So now I use the initial.

Pogo said...

Suzie Doozie?

Well, doozie or don't she?

Scott M said...

@lyssa

We had a good friend in college, one of those guys who does things for shock value and other things simply because they are different from everyone else (demanded no door on his room at the house, for instance, to promote "open-ness").

He took his wife's last name. He ended up changing it back about 10 years later, admitting it was a stupid thing to do.

shoutingthomas said...

Jesus Christ!

When will this bullshit ever end?

Here in Woodstock, we've got moron men who wear skirts to avoid the evil eye.

Yet another argument that the Saudis shouldn't even let their women drive.

Carol said...

I took my husband's name because it was exotic. I kinda regret it now, because later I had to prove my original name for various things and it was a real hassle. If my maiden name had remained on my DL as a "middle" name it would have been no problem.

George said...

Discussions like these make me tankful God created sports on TV. "Uh, huh. Yes dear. Uh, huh..."

Fred4Pres said...

I took the kids to Rio and went and watched Bridesmaids. I had to leave before the end, but it is funny (and extremely crude). But funny.

All this name changing marriage stuff made me think of it.

ricpic said...

When I was growing up it was not uncommon for a married woman to be introduced as Mrs. John Doe. Not even Mrs. Jane Doe. Now that's identification erasure. I'm pretty sure that practice is gone now, at least in the western world. And a good thing too.

Scott M said...

I'm pretty sure that practice is gone now, at least in the western world.

Ever since that very special episode of Maude, yes.

Ann Althouse said...

"Did you guys exchange rings, AA?"

It's well documented.

Scott M said...

It's well documented.

I thought so, just wanted to confirm. What I should have asked, unfortunately, was, "did you get an engagement ring?" The answer to that, I'm not so sure about. I'd wager no.

I have a couple of friends and parents of friends that are profs or associate profs (women) that are somewhat dismayed at the reaction of their female students that answer overwhelmingly that, yes, they expect an engagement ring.

Curious George said...

My sister's name is Carolyn. In her late 20's she decided to go by "Lyn" and insisted everyone should play along. Sorry Carolyn. Ain't gonna happen. And the fact that it bugs you so much is only part of the reason.

Greg Hlatky said...

No greater love than this: Madame adopted my last name when we married.

AllenS said...

I gotta tell ya, The Meade Woman just doesn't have the same impact. It just wouldn't have worked. So, there's that.

Henry said...

@Scott M -- The answer is in that thread.

Scott M said...

@Scott M -- The answer is in that thread.

LOL...still haven't read it (slammed a bit today). In any case, I made my point about engagement rings above. Women still expect them in large part because they are tradition (and a way to lord things over your girlfriends and girlfoes). Changing a last name is also traditional, though a segment of those same women don't expect to take their husband's name.

She taketh, but doth not giveth in kind.

Triangle Man said...

Fuck that. (hot-button issue, can you tell?) Where are the droves of women marching on every local post office demanding...DEMANDING...to be allowed to sign up for selective service?

Or subversively going to sign up.

Carol_Herman said...

Woody Allen's son by Mia Farrow ... does not use his first name "Satchel." And, his last name is FARROW. He also looks a lot like his mom.

Allen wasn't much of a dad. But his son inherited genius.

It's a much better thing, if a child gets to have both parents. And, gets to love them, too. (Since genetically speaking one person can only send along only half of the DNA.)

t-man said...

I've never understood how a woman choosing to keep her father's last name is a feminist statement. Talk about perpetuating the patriarchy!

In my family: my wife and one sister-in-law didn't change their names; another sister-in-law changed her name; and my brother-in-law changed his name to match my sister.

My wife has no problem going informally by my name at home, and I don't really care if people call me by her last name.

Also, I think it would be a relief for a "fearsome litigator" to have a different identity at home, for herself and her family. My kids hate it when I'm in the litigators frame of mind.

Carol_Herman said...

But Meade is Lawrence. Or, I'd guess, Larry. Yet he seems to accept his last name as his first. And, allows it to be used as a term of affection. Unless, at home he is called "honey-deary."

(My dad used to say when a man called his wife honey-deary ... he didn't want to get caught saying his girl friend's name out loud, by mistake.

Joanna said...

When I was in college, I lived with a man who I almost married. I had no interest in adopting his name. My full name had a lovely rhythm and cadence. His last name was plain, and it sounded clunky paired with mine. I didn't just dislike the combination -- it made my stomach turn. Hyphenation looked ugly, and the number of syllables created a tongue twister. I also tried to justify that, since his name was a (somewhat ugly) "the third", we would be stuck naming a child "the fourth"; my keeping my lovely name felt like a fair trade.

Later, I realized that ours was a relationship that was doomed to fail from the beginning, and marriage would have been a horrible mistake. I'll always wonder if my feelings about taking his name were an early indication of the relationship's success.

I've always thought the tradition was silly and made little sense. I bet I'll feel differently if I ever meet a marriage-able mate.

Off-topic: Is there a tradition for gay couples & last names?

Methadras said...

Women who keep their maiden names or have 3 names are nothing more than fence straddlers.

Charlie Rich said...

Don't worry about it. ...when you let (your) hair hang down...

Pogo said...

"Take my wife's name, please."

~ Henny Youngman

Scott M said...

"Take my wife's fleas."

~ Henny Youngman's dog.

C R Krieger said...

Nice post, Ms Meade.

As for the person who commented about changing a tire, my wife changed, by herself, at night, at minus 50°, the left rear tire on a Jeep Cherokee.  At the time I was jetting down to Florida, from Fairbanks.

Regards  —  Cliff

shoutingthomas said...

Thank God, I don't know Suzie Doozie, "the fearsome litigator!"

wv: believe it or not, "jackessi." Yes, the Suzie Doozie's of this world are "jackessi!"

Henry said...

@Scott M. Just a bit of serendipity on my part.

The Crack Emcee said...

Women are insane. They go into marriage, and then immediately go to war with it, planting the seeds of it's destruction from Day One.

You know I don't consider you married (because you only marry once in a lifetime) but at least you're showing more maturity with Meade - the man, if not the so-called marriage.

As far as "Althouse" is concerned, my real name has never stopped me from recording as The Crack Emcee.

Men are just funny that way. Call it The Macho Response.

Dustin said...

"I did not always completely hide my disdain for the (to me) backward individuals who assumed a mother's last name is the same as her children's."

Perhaps they aren't backwards, but rather just used to a world where most parents have the same last name as their kid.

It's those who care enough about this to judge others about their choice in name who are backwards.

Synova said...

Well, her first reason is sort of sad, which is that you shouldn't change your name because people get divorced. But I'm sure that's bound to happen often when people go in with "let's prepare for divorce" attitudes.

But I don't see any real value to a woman changing her name. It's a little bit romantic, but there are other romantic things to do. We call it "traditional" but in reality most of us used to be called by our profession, the location of our home, or the name of our parents, rather than by the name of our spouse.

I got married when I was 22 so changing my name wasn't difficult. And I like my husband's last name. But most people get married later and most people have a heavier weight of... stuff attached to their name by then. Changing your name is a hassle.

But I think that the biggest reason that women will chose to go by a "professional" name but use their husband's name in social circumstances is because keeping their name wasn't a "statement." It was practical. And getting bent because someone calls you "Mrs. Meade" (for example) is pointless because the person doing so isn't trompling on your "statement."

Mike K said...

Discussions like these make me tankful God created sports on TV. "Uh, huh. Yes dear. Uh, huh..."

Boy, if that isn't the truth. The other thing I do is avoid women with hyphenated last names. They are trouble. I've yet to meet one who didn't have a chip on her shoulder.

Life is too short....

lyssalovelyredhead said...

OK, I just got around to reading the actual article (bad Lyssa, bad!)- the writer's argument appears to be almost entirely based on preparing for the inevitable divorce- NOT the way I approached my marriage, and it seems to have worked well.

Her side argument involved wanting the kids to respect the mom for her "independence". Bull. Shit. I want my (presently hypothetical) kids to respect the family unit and my husband's and my devotion to it and each other, not to crow over my independance.

Yet another reason why I'm glad to have changed my last name- I would hate to be confused with someone who thinks like this patronizing, insulting to women idiot!

- Lyssa

Seven Machos said...

Most feminism since the advent of effective and freely available birth control has been bullshit. So, most feminism. The wage gap is entirely explained by the fact that women bear children, an unavoidable fact that society should celebrate and need not apologize for.

However, if there's one symbolic thing of male hegemony in society, it's this loopy assumption that women ought to give up their own surname and take their husband's last name. It's an option, nothing more. And there are many others.

All that said, hyphenating is the stupidest, most pussy thing ever, and ought to be outlawed on principle.

Scott M said...

However, if there's one symbolic thing of male hegemony in society, it's this loopy assumption that women ought to give up their own surname and take their husband's last name. It's an option, nothing more.

So you would also agree that an engagement ring, at any cost, is also loopy, correct?

Synova said...

"Fuck that. (hot-button issue, can you tell?) Where are the droves of women marching on every local post office demanding...DEMANDING...to be allowed to sign up for selective service?"

Some of us just enlisted. ;-)

But you're right, of course. If we're going to have registration for selective service, everyone should have to do it, and even if females are never drafted for the infantry or military at all, they can certainly be drafted for any number of other tasks.

jimbino said...

The focus on surname change upon marriage is a diversion. The interesting question is: Why would a modern woman marry?

Love?
Friendship?
Companionship?
Financial security?
Sex?
Children?
Domestic help?

Family pressure?
Social pressure?
Religion?
Professional advancement?

Tax savings?
Insurance benefits?
Inheritance benefits?

It seems that those of the first group can all be had (maybe better) outside of marriage. Insecure and spineless women marry on account of the second group. The benefits of the third group are an artifact of unfair tax laws that discriminate against singles.

Seven Machos said...

Scott -- Engagement rings are pretty loopy. But such is our dowry system at present. If you want to marry most women, it's part of the deal unless you can talk them out of it.

Scott M said...

Our wedding ceremony, which society unabashedly admits is her day, not his or theirs, was in the neighborhood of 12k. I would have gladly taken it in cash and put it away for savings (was moving a lot then for radio) for an eventual downpayment on a house. Her father even offered that option. She wanted the ceremony and reception.

Seven Machos said...

Althouse says that funerals are not for the dead but for the living and that is very, very true.

I would add that marriages are not for the husband and wife. Marriages are for children, as the strong and serious contract of marriage provides reasons to stick together in the same monogamous or reasonably monogamous household and pool resources, which has proven best for most kids.

The fact that childless people marry, or gay people, or whatever non-child-having people is either a feature or a bug, depending on your view or your circumstances.

Synova said...

The purpose of surnames is to place a person within a context. Some first-name naming conventions are the same, particularly if the name corresponds to birth order.

A person has a first name or pet name that identifies them to family and friends but to everyone else their name is "First Born of So-and-So" or "John Farmer" or "Jenny Cliff" or "Erik the Red." I'd be something like "Julia Luthersdottor."

I'm not even offended by "Mrs. John Smith," since it differentiates her from Mrs. Henry Smith, Mrs. Toby Smith and Mrs. William Smith in a time when people reused first names a *lot*. It's more formalized but it's really no different from two friends named Jeff that were known by their wife's name... in conversation they were "Lisa's Jeff" and "Tina's Jeff."

It worked for what it was supposed to work for, which was identifying *who* you were talking about.

Seven Machos said...

There's really no point in adhering to any social ceremonies if you don't want to.

Synova said...

I didn't have an engagement ring.

Scott M said...

Ah, but are we talking about the rare radical standing on principle or the pressures and expected behaviors (tradition) that are part of the society we found ourselves a part of?

Seven Machos said...

Radicals aren't so rare.

E.M. Davis said...

My wife dropped a unique last name (Bilko) for a very generic one (Davis.)

Scott M said...

I didn't have an engagement ring.

Why not? Financial reasons? Or money was plentiful and you thought it was a bad tradition and thus dumped the idea?

KitaIkki said...

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Clinton
Hillary Rodham
Hillary!

Col Mustard said...

Suzie Doozie. Short for Suzie Douchenozzle?

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Synova said: her first reason is sort of sad, which is that you shouldn't change your name because people get divorced. But I'm sure that's bound to happen often when people go in with "let's prepare for divorce" attitudes.

I frequent a blog that caters to professional women, mostly on fashion but a lot on just general professional workplace issues, too. The issue of stay-at-home-moms comes up fairly frequently, and the prevailing opinion often appears to be that one should never give up (or pause) one's career, because your husband could leave you with no support.

Makes me want to scream- I'm confident that my husband won't leave me, otherwise, I wouldn't have married him. But, even if he did, I know that he is not the sort of man who would leave the mother of his kids with no support. (and *even if* he got some sort of brain transplant and did, his family would surely step in his place, after they hunted him down and beat him senseless.)

I'm not interested in being a SAHM, but I respect those that are. But ANY woman who is reproducing with a man who she's not 100% sure is not the sort of person who would leave his children destitute is an absolute idiot.

- Lyssa

Bruce Hayden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce Hayden said...

When I was married, my wife at the time never took my last name. Later, she remarried, and took her new husband's last name. Someone asked why, esp. since my last name is more normal than either of theirs. Her answer was that I had never asked.

And, indeed, I hadn't. Being maybe a year older than Anne, I got caught up in the feminist thing. It just bothered me that I would ask a woman to give that up, when I sure wouldn't.

So, we had a kid together, and that kid ultimately graduated from high school. The kid has 4 names, the last two being the mother's maiden name and my name, not hyphenated. My kid thanked me for not hyphenating. The kid before in line had such a hyphenated name, and they had gone through school with a long, unwieldly, name. My kid would have had a last name over 20 characters long, if we had hyphenated. Oh, and it would have sorted much later in the alphabet, which has other adverse consequences in school.

So, the woman I was supposed to marry in the recent past has a very nice sounding pair of names. Both are a bit foreign, but sound very nice together. She expected to take my last name (had done so with her previous husbands), and I balked for esthetic reasons. We compromised that she would continue to use her maiden name as her last name except when she was with me. I just didn't think that her first name with my last name would have had the same effect.

Maybe something like Ann Althouse (no offense intended to Meade here).

(Deleted and reposted, as I misspelled Ann's first name, getting mixed up with caplight calling her "Annie" above).

Hoosier Daddy said...

"....I didn't have an engagement ring...."

Mrs. Hoosier got one. Forged in the fires of Mount Doom in Modor.

ricpic said...

jimbino says that love, friendship and companionship can be maintained as well outside marriage as in the married state. I'm not at all sure that's true. Marriage adds gravitas.

Synova said...

"Why not? Financial reasons?"

Absolutely financial reasons.

Also, I feel about engagement rings the way I feel about tattoos. Better not to have one at all if what you can afford is tacky and small. ;-)

But big isn't always better either, because maybe you don't want a big chunk of something on your hand getting caught in crap, and maybe you don't want a full color dragon crawling over your shoulder.

traditionalguy said...

In my years of practice, I have run across several women who married a man with the same last name as her birth family's last name. No great problems of victimhood arose there.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"...Also, I feel about engagement rings the way I feel about tattoos...."

Hey now.....

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't understand Chen's problem either. So it goes.

If I were Althouse, I wouldn't have taken a new last name either. It's quite a different proposition when you are so closely identified with your last name and have done so much writing under it. I took my husband's last name when I was twenty-one. It went better with my first name than my maiden name did.

The only last name trend for which I have an extreme dislike is the trend of both people taking both last names and adding a hyphen. It is too illogical for me. If it were the way of naming, what would their children do when getting married?

Freeman Hunt said...

I didn't have an engagement ring.

Neither did I.

Marshal said...

So we see yet again the famed tolerance of the left. Live and let live simply isn't an option. The personal is political. Every choice you make is evaluated by whether it advances their agenda.

Remember their desire to control everything down to the minutia the next time they wax eloquently on freedom.

Scott M said...

Neither did I.

chickenlittle said...

When we married, my wife took my last name. But we gave both our kids (boy and girl) the same middle name: "van" which was part of her maiden name.
Yes, we did that before Sarah Palin did.

chickenlittle said...

I didn't have an engagement ring.

Neither did my wife, but she made up for it later by augmenting her wedding band ring with fancy colored diamonds.

Fen said...

Its a pain in the ass re the US Postal Service. Apparently, ours can't deliver to her other names (she has two, thanks to her parents giving her a first name of some ancient relative, her middle name being more modern and the one she uses publicly).

Yes, I argued with the postal service. I don't understand why they can't just deliver to the numerical address. I still get mail labelled "Resident, 12345 Spruce Lane", but otherwise, if its not her "official" name, it doesn't arrive.

And we wonder why the Feds always screw things up...

Scott M said...

Neither did my wife, but she made up for it later by augmenting her wedding band ring with fancy colored diamonds.

I lucked out. While I wasn't making a whole lot at the time, my youngest brother, in one of his manifold careers, was working retail in a jeweler at a local mall. I got his discount (somewhere around 55%) so I came close to that 3-months salary thing after all.

madAsHell said...

Didn't Lenny Bruce say:

"What every man wants is the cross between a $500 dollar-a-night hooker, and a Sunday School teacher"

That pretty much sums it up for me!!

Pogo said...

I was quite poor, and my fiancé bought her own engagement ring.

I have bought her many rings since then, but I am still most drawn to the one I couldn't afford.

Drew said...

"Meade" is an aesthetically pleasing name, but "Ann Meade" is too plain.

Suddenly I know what I'm going to name the female protagonist of my latest novel!

Scott M said...

I have bought her many rings since then, but I am still most drawn to the one I couldn't afford.

I am completely off the hook for having to buy jewelry. 3 years after the wedding, she lost her engagement ring while walking the dog. She didn't realize it was gone until she got home. I was at the studio at the time, so had no clue. She called over a half-dozen girlfriends over and they walked up and down the street looking for it. A couple of guys jogging by stopped to help as well.

She agonized about telling me for two weeks. She told me around 10pm on Sept 10th 2001. A lost engagement ring didn't seem so important the next morning.

edutcher said...

The Blonde changed her name when we finally got married - and it was a hassle, but I can see how a woman who is prominent (e.g., as a Constitutional scholar and bloggress) might want to keep her maiden name.

The one point is that a man's good name is his most prized possession and to want to bestow it on the woman he loves is an honor both should recognize.

Eleanor said...

As a teacher I had a hard time remembering which Moms had the same last names as their kids and which ones didn't. I resorted to calling them "suzie's mom" or "joey's mom". Eventually, some of them caught on. The Moms most insistent that I get their last names right, though, were the ones whose last names were different because they had remarried and taken a new husband's last name. I needed a scorecard some years.

The Elder said...

Like a rose, an Althouse by any other name is still an Althouse.

Phil 3:14 said...

Well said Professor Meade

Richard Dolan said...

Better one or the other, rather than both: the hyphenated approach (two for the price of one!) is awful.

MayBee said...

But ANY woman who is reproducing with a man who she's not 100% sure is not the sort of person who would leave his children destitute is an absolute idiot.

That is a great point!


I've never understood how holding on to the name that someone else gave you is more independent than taking a new name.
As for me, I didn't want to have a different last name than my husband or my kids. We are a unit, and the purpose of a last name seems to me to be to label that unit.
If people don't want to do that, that's fine, but I'm not sure what statement that makes.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I also kept my maiden name as my middle name because I wanted to keep connection with my family history, my identity and the traditions that I grew up with, while at the same time joining in my husbands family, traditions and identity.

It has worked out well. I don't see what the big deal is. Call yourself what you want.

My engagement ring is the proceeds of the sale of my husband's (then fiance) sale of his 1967 stepside chevy pick up truck. He sold something near and dear to him to buy me a ring. I never anticipated or expected a ring and didn't have one for my first marriage. It meant a lot to me that he would give up something that meaningful. 19 years ago next week.

VW: equal. You can't make it up. Google is psychic

David said...

Testing

David said...

"Women are insane. They go into marriage, and then immediately go to war with it, planting the seeds of it's destruction from Day One. "

Some do, some don't. I am now married to a woman who does not. It's quite wonderful.

windbag said...

Why don't you both change your names to "Meadehouse?"

victoria said...

I have been married for 30 years and I never changed my name. No problem with hubby, no problem with daughter. Only time I ever had a problem was with the hospital when I delivered my daughter 25 years ago. The hospital insisted on using my husbands name to bill my insurance. Obviously, they did not know who I was with my married name. I told the hospital that, if they wanted to get paid, they should submit the bills to my name, not my husband's. Hmmm They did and they got paid. Other than that, no problems.

My daughter's friends referred to me both with my name and my husband's name, never bothered me at all. Nothing schitzo about it at all. Changing your name is not necessary unless you want to. I know I'm married,my husband knows we're married. Other than that, who gives a @#$%.

Vicki from Pasadena

reader_iam said...

I will say one thing: If you keep your own name after your marriage and your brother marries a woman with the same first name as yours AND she *does* take his last name, you end up with an interesting predicament when it comes to addressing such things as, say, Christmas gift tags.

(Oddly, that never bothered me, but it took a few years before my sister-in-law stopped being annoyed at me over the situation. But then, it doesn't bother me to be called by either my name or my husbands [or both!] in most circumstances. Whatever.)

---

My husband buy me an engagement ring.

On the other hand, I bought him a coveted guitar, which, while it was was not as pricey as the ring, as a proportion of income was more expensive for me to do.

People do different things. Whatevs.

Ricardo said...

DBQ: "I also kept my maiden name as my middle name because I wanted to keep connection with my family history ...."

Bunny was your maiden name?

Sorry, couldn't resist. :)

Ricardo said...

You already know the answer to this conundrum. In our present culture, anyone who is anyone only has "one" name. "Althouse" is a right answer, and "Meade" is a right answer. Even better, possibly, is if you can reduce it further to just one letter. "A" would be neat, and "M" also. Numbers are good also, witness Dr. Hadley being known as "thirteen" on House. Call it reductionism, but less is more.

MayBee said...

I also kept my maiden name as my middle name because I wanted to keep connection with my family history, my identity and the traditions that I grew up with, while at the same time joining in my husbands family, traditions and identity.
=========

Yes, my maiden name is now my middle name as well.

Fen said...

Have to get my Congress-critter involved so post office will deliver my mail. *sigh*

Fen said...

And the supervisor is a black female. Yah, I'm sure she was promoted due to competence...

Hagar said...

It makes sense for a woman to keep her maiden name for "work," especially if she already has an established reputation before her marriage. However, socially she is part of a team and the established norm in European societies is "Mrs. John Doe."

Incidentally, "Mrs. Jane Doe" is the designation for the former, now divorced, "Mrs. John Doe." Widows remain as "Mrs. John Doe."

Trooper York said...

I would much rather talk to Suzie Floozie. Just sayn'

Penny said...

"I would much rather talk to Suzie Floozie."

She change her name to SueZQ.

AllenS said...

The Crack Emcee said...
Women are insane. They go into marriage, and then immediately go to war with it, planting the seeds of it's destruction from Day One.

There is truth in that statement. Not all do, but eventually, a lot do.

Henry said...

Some do, some don't.

The best marriage advice I've read is "sometimes you get lucky."

I'm pretty sure that was a link from Althouse.

I know I'm married,my husband knows we're married. Other than that, who gives a @#$%.

Can't disagree with that!

Michael K said...

I would have gladly taken it in cash and put it away for savings (was moving a lot then for radio) for an eventual downpayment on a house.

I had the same thoughts when my two sons got married. My daughters are not the issue so much now as only one of three got married. My younger son and his fiance were going to spend about $20,000 on their wedding and I was giving them $7,000 for a honeymoon. I meekly suggested the possibility of socking that money away and was quickly informed to mind my own business, in a nice way.

My older son, now 46, and his fiance (age suspected at about 40) spent every penny they had. I wondered why they didn't save it for a house but kept my opinions to myself.

I might add that the marriage of their mother and me cost about $500 for the champagne. Honeymoon spot was the San Diego Zoo.

JAL said...

It never occurred to me not to take my husband's name. Feminism didn't mean much to me. But as others have also done, I just moved last name over. Not hyphenated, just used in place of given middle name. That which I actually sometimes still use. One of my degrees post marriage has first, middle, maiden, and married last name on it.

No mistaken who earned *that* degree.

Doctor daughter did not get married until after her residency, was in her thirties, and weighed the pros and cons for them. She stuck with her maiden name for her licensing (same as medical degree and prescribing stuff).

She also has an affinity for our name as it is something you can play around with.

She and her husband work in the same hospital, so it simplifies pages, also. (Besides which he has a 4 syllable last name which people can mangle.) She has no problem being Mrs. Husband's Name. And rather likes it, I presume.

It does get funny a little though as she and her male paternal cousin are very close and *his* wife has the same first name -- so we have two of the same in the family. We deal with that by calling the cousin's wife by name plus her maiden initial. The funny part happened when our daughter checked into the hospital to deliver and couldn't remember which name she had given them, complicated by the fact she and her cousin-in-law not only (sometimes) shared the same name, they shared the same OB-Gyn group.

She's not particularly schiztie about all this.

I think the article says more about the person writing it than it does the issue.

JAL said...

Her side argument involved wanting the kids to respect the mom for her "independence".

That, of course, is bull shit.

If it boils down to having to "convince the kids" to "respect" the mom for [nice use of period outside the quotes there, BTW] her "independence" I have news for her.

Being independent, competent and adult (as in mature and responsible) has about ZERO to do with what your last name is.

When she figures that out the kids will be much better off. And so will she.

JAL said...

Fen.

Just tell the P.O. that the disputed name is another person living in your house.

You are suppposed to list the people receiving mail at that address on a form. We did when we moved. So why not add an addendum? That would take the heat off them following some rule,(??)

chickenlittle said...

Speaking of floozies. Our FLOTUS likes like one in that "windy" photo up on Drudge.

Talk about totally lacking gravitas.

Peano said...

Good grief. All that feminist weighing, measuring, sifting, sorting, pissing, moaning, analyzing, syllogizing, apostrophizing, blondizing and rationalizing -- all that about which NAME you use after marriage?

You only call to mind a summary judgment by a male, and a far wiser and more succinct writer: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

rcocean said...

'Ann Meade' is too plain? You're obviously not thinking outside the box. Change your first name AND your last name. What about 'Merry Meade' or 'Anything Annie Meade' or 'Ida need Meade'.

Given your high Verbal IQ I'm sure you could come up with something better.

gregwithtwogs said...

Meade (Mr.) is such a lucky guy to be married to Althouse (Ms.)!

virgil xenophon said...

I've always marveled at the earnest feminists who take the name of their FATHER's--the patriarchal side of the family, all in the name of feminism and "independence."

The Crack Emcee said...

virgil xenophon,

I've always marveled at the earnest feminists who take the name of their FATHER's--the patriarchal side of the family, all in the name of feminism and "independence."

Those would be the same fathers they probably condemned and drove crazy, once someone started putting this bullshit in their heads, as well.

Gawd, when I consider the evil,...

rcocean said...

I was going to suggest "Anytime Annie Meade" but that was too risqué for such a respectable blog.

Blue@9 said...

I don't even know why this is even a topic for public discussion. Do whatever works for you as a couple. You want to take his name, fine; he wants to take your name, fine. Keep your names, or change them both to Ochocinco. Why does any of this have to be justified to anyone at all?

rcocean said...

I agree with Mr. Blue. You need to stop blogging about your personal life and start giving us more ConLaw posts.

And we need more posts about Pawlenty's views on Medicare and Turkmenistan.

Fen said...

Just tell the P.O. that the disputed name is another person living in your house.

You are suppposed to list the people receiving mail at that address on a form. We did when we moved. So why not add an addendum?


Did that the first encounter. Which bumped *my* name off the list. Had to explain that I had lived there for 10 years. These people really are that incompetent.

Skippy said...

Is it possible that, like Ann, many women want to maintain their own identities upon marriage -- not necessarily linked to their father's identity, but the one they've grown up with, used professionally, established a reputation under and that people have called them all their lives? How does one easily become this other person, this other name, upon marriage? Can't we feel rankled when other people -- relatives, whomever -- choose our names for us? Don't we get a say? Maybe for some it is easy, but not for everyone. For Ann, there was the first husband's name "expressive of a tradition that was not mine" (Cohen = Jewish) and Ann was the shiksa. Maybe she couldn't see herself as Ann Cohen; she had always been Ann Althouse. And then, in her late 50s, it doesn't matter so very much any more. Perhaps that's why Ann isn't annoyed by being called Mrs. Meade, although she remains Althouse. She has mellowed. Are we allowed to move through these stages? Or do we have to be called "beyotch" and be planning for divorce, as some say? Can't we just be struggling with these things?

Synova said...

Skippy... the article was pretty clear that "in case of divorce" was the bigger reason. People here didn't just make that up.

And why *not* take on that new identity?

BTW, I've said very clearly that for many people it doesn't make sense to change their names, so that's not my point.

When you've decided to join yourself with another person and create a family you've *chosen* that identity. So at what point is that identity an imposition on you?

Unless, of course, you haven't chosen to join another person and the new identity, in which case you should just go ahead and plan on the divorce.

So do or don't change your name, which ever makes sense for you. But if you're going into a partnership most concerned with your independence, your independence may be the only thing you get out of it.

Allison said...

I don't think it's about a schizoid persona at all. I think it's about telling people you're married and have children, and that you're married to the kids' father.

It is now not possible to refer to my husband in such a way that people know he is both my husband and my children's father--saying "their dad" doesn't work, saying "my husband" doesn't work. If we all had the same last name, it would be assumed, at least for a while.

I kept my name for many of the reasons Althouse did; it was my identity, not just a professional identity, but my identity. I had also published papers in my field, and my husband and I had made a deal that if I published first, I would keep my name, as I wanted the credit as I assumed I would have a professional life as an academic. Last petty reason, my husband's name is unspellable by anyone, including his own family which has had various branches change it over the last few generations.

8 years later, I understand the reason to be Susie HisLastName when it comes to home and school, ESPECIALLY school. I kept my name, but increasingly grow tired of trying to tell people that my kids have his lastname, but that husband and I are still married to each other, and yes, we are the parents of our children. I grow tired of having to introduce myself in school settings as My Name, followed by "child's first and last name's mom".

But yes, even more, the longer I'm married, the more that prior identity doesn't seem to be so relevant anymore--this identity of wife and mother and professional does, and I wish I'd just changed my name so all of them had one name.


If I could, I'd just assume his last name in social settings--it's just that it would require changing how other people who already know me socially refer to me--and I don't see how that's going to work at all.

Skippy said...

Synova -- Not referring so much to the article, but rather to Ann's explanation of her keeping her name. I just didn't find it easy personally, for exactly the reasons that Ann cites. I appreciated her explanation, the struggle with the change.

I've been married 29 years, if you can imagine. The kids did fine with it. My husband is fine with it -- he likes it, even, as with the jobs we have it might have caused issues, should people make the connection of the same last name.

Funny enough, there were a number of women I knew who married at the same time, who kept their names, and have also stayed married. Meanwhile, other women I know who changed their names ended up divorced. Others stayed married. Can we really conclude the names made so much difference?

I'd suggest that a woman can embrace her marriage and family she's chosen and still end up getting "fired" from a marriage by a man, like it or not, wholeheartedly committed or not. One might be handed one's independence when one wanted to be fully connected.

And now, closing in on 30 years, it doesn't seem to matter any more to me. Merely reflecting on my own changed feelings, that's all. Like Ann, when people call me Mrs. Somebody, I don't mind any more. Funny how time changes things.

Thanks for commenting.

JAL said...

So Fen. Where you live only allows for two people?

The P.O. determines the number of people in your house? The zoning board?

There was no limit on ours that I was aware of.

My mother lives with us (different last name) and a daughter lived with us at the time of our move.

Oh yeah -- I even ended up for a while getting mail addressed to the doctor daughter (at our new address) who hadn't lived with us for ..... 8 years?

Mind you -- the address had to be changed to our new address on the (unused) credit card account for that to happen. (And was NOT changed by the daughter.)

I guess our postman isn't as picky as yours, he just pops the mail in the box.

Come to think of it we've gotten mail wrongly addressed to our house number in someone else's name....

Penny said...

One hundred twenty comments about Althouse's feminism, and her, apparently, well reasoned decision to keep her own name.

Me? I would like to give a nod to her two hyphenated boys, who, along with their father and stepfather, are not even mentioned in the Althouse biography on Wikipedia.

Penny said...

I blame Google!

murgatroyd666 said...

The professional women I know who have kept their original surnames all have mentioned continuity of publication record as one reason for their decision. A couple of my friends who did change their names published dissertations and early papers under one name and then later papers under another. When a paper has multiple authors and none of them are the name on the CV, people wonder what's going on.

My ex-husband's name was also highly expressive of a tradition that was not mine, but I would have been offended if anyone had accused me of rejecting the name for that reason.

It can be annoying, though. Another friend in grad school was a blue-eyed blonde who was continually receiving solicitations to join the campus Asian-American Student Alliance. She was assumed to be a Person of Color who was obligated to stand in solidarity with other People of Color because she had taken her husband's surname, Liang.

Since then she and her first husband have divorced and she has remarried. She uses her maiden name professionally and her husband's surname for daily life, partly to avoid confusion. Her husband is also a scientist and they work at the same university.

LawGirl said...

I took my husband's last name primarily for the "family unit" reason, even though I was well into my career by then. I just used my maiden with it (not hyphenated) during a transition period.

Those who mentioned schools and doctor offices made me think of a by-product of taking my husband's last name: I also have my stepson's last name. I never have problems at school or doctors' offices because it's assumed he's my son. I'm given more presumed authority because of it. Which has served everyone well, especially him.

In is mother's house (where he spends half the time), all four people have different last names. I'm guessing they have more problems with the school and doctor than I do.

AprilApple said...

Yes - but without the Katie Couric pay check.

The Crack Emcee said...

Long story short:

Women start the maturity process earlier, but the finishing part,...

kramsay said...

Dear Ann, It's not that you kept your own name; you kept your father's name. I think it important for a wife to take her husband's name; it indicates her allegiance is primarily to the new family unit that has been created by the marriage.

kramsay said...

Dear Ann,
It's not that you kept your own name; you kept your father's name. It strikes me that it it very important for a wife to take her husband's name to indicate her allegiance to the new family being created by the marriage, an allegiance that must supercede the ties to the old.

howzerdo said...

I didn't change my name for two reasons: Alliteration, and the ethnicity matches my looks. Neither my husband nor I have rings, (engagement or wedding). Our wedding "reception" was a dinner for 30 people that cost $1,000. Yesterday we celebrated our 31st anniversary. No regrets.

Skippy said...

Crack Emcee: And from what I can tell, apparently some men never grow up or "get" that people and opinions can change.

Kirk Parker said...

"jimbino says that love, friendship and companionship can be maintained as well outside marriage as in the married state."

Well, I'd say jimbino is equivocating here. Yes indeed, " love, friendship and companionship" can be sustained outside of marriage, no question. But these will take on a somewhat different character inside.

reader_iam said...

Yes indeed, " love, friendship and companionship" can be sustained outside of marriage, no question. But these will take on a somewhat different character inside.

Methinks into a trap someone has fallen. Or has set a trap into which it's so easy others will fall.

Kirk Parker said...

reader--huh?

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