What’s in a surname anyway?
March 19, 2012
This journey – writing the blog – has made me come to realise many things about how society, and in-turn my family, has raised and shaped me. I’ve reached moments where decisions I want to make for myself, are not as easy to make as I originally thought or simply can’t be made at all because – that’s the way it is.
It’s at these moments that I feel the most ineffectual and helpless – because ‘that’s the way it is’ means it cannot be changed.
Or can it?
This post is just looking at the simple issue of – what’s in a woman’s surname?
Main problem: As I mentioned in my previous post I was Suzie Home Maker, so when I got married I started the usual ‘procedure’ of changing my surname to my husband’s. Now, my parents had two daughters (yes, only token males to create more females in my family *wink*) so our maiden name ‘dies’ with my sister and me; and although she kept our maiden name when she got married – I knew the buck stopped with us.
Before children were even a thought, I kind of broached the subject with Hubby about our kids having my surname. His brother already has two sons that will keep their surname going – so I thought I’d give it a shot. No can do – because that’s the way it is and that was OK.
I remember that when I first signed my ‘new’ name, my sister saw me write it and said, “You’re not changing your name, are you?” and I replied that I didn’t want my (future) children to have a different surname than me.
Well, I don’t know now.
Two years ago, I had to officially change my surname to be able to get a new passport. When I finally got the certificate from Births, Deaths and Marriages with my husband’s surname as my own – I felt a tiny pang of ‘identity loss’ – even though it had been a LONG time since I had been using Hubby’s surname. Silly, I know – I guess it bothered me because it was so official.
It was then that I questioned the future for my daughters (well, all children really). If women are the ones who go through a pregnancy, give birth and are the primary carer for our babes in the early stages – if not until they leave home *wink* – then:
Question #25: Why don’t children carry their mothers’ surname?
1. There’s never a doubt about who the mother is – 2. She is the one who (generally) cares for the child, should the partnership dissolve – 3. Dad could take off – it doesn’t matter, that child will officially carry the father’s surname (unless changed, of course).
I know, I know – What can you do? Right? But it sits wrongly with me.
The reason this post has come up is because I decided I’m writing this blog under my maiden name. Although Hubby understands my reasoning behind it, his initial reaction seemed tinged with offence. I found that so interesting. None of us really seem to give much of a thought to our tradition of someone dropping the surname they’ve had their whole life for another – yet not using his surname on my blog seemed to hurt Hubby a little. But, like I said, he understands why I’m doing it and he never asked me to change my name when we got married – because I just went ahead and did it. Stuck to the tradition.
Funnily enough in my country of birth, Uruguay, (I was 3 months old when I came to Oz), your name stays the same regardless of marriage. You have two surnames – the first being your father’s and the second being your mother’s. That’s pretty cool – you have the same name your whole life. But the country that goes one step further is Spain – it’s like Uruguay, except you can reverse the order of the surnames to mother first and father second, under gender equity law.
We need us some gender equity law happening here! *smile*
Minor issue: Women shouldn’t have to announce whether they’re married or not – Ms should = woman, just as Mr = man.
Sounds fair, right?
But only we can make the minor changes – easily – before they can lead to bigger and better things.
I wonder if it’s a change that married women want…