- 6 years ago
I know there are already a lot of threads on this topic, but my thoughts are so numerous I really wanted to start a separate one. So please forgive me for cluttering up the board in advance. I am really going back and forth on this. There are so many conflicting thoughts I have!
I am African-American and he is 1st generation (1st gen born here, i mean) west African. So changing my name would give me a foreign last name. And not that there’s anything wrong with foreign names, but names are tied up in one’s identity IMO. And though I am marrying a Ghanaian, I myself am African-American and don’t want to be assumed or mistaken to be something I’m not. I would feel this way about any identifiably foreign (non-English sounding) last name, like if I married a Japanese man I’d feel odd taking on a Japanese family name.
But then again, my name is most likely a relic of a slave owner’s name. Or, thinking about it, it’s probably just as likely a name that was taken after gaining freedom, as I know slaves often took previous presidents’ names. Because of our history, though I am clearly of primarily African descent, I have this European (English) sounding last name. I know most AAs have English sounding names, but you can at least see the argument to be made that those names are foreign to us, too. So in that sense, if I’m going to change my name to something foreign, I’d rather it be a west African one than any other as most AAs are from west Africa. This could be my chance to “legitimately” have an African family name.
But on the other hand, it feels kind of sexist to me. Since I know a lot of it was tied up in viewing the woman as “belonging” to the man, being transferred from her father to her husband. It seems this is not even a tradition for his ethnic group, though (perhaps with growing Westernization?), it is becoming more common. But in any case, not culturally necessary that a woman change her name.
But then again, the fact that I have my father’s family name as my own rather than my mother’s (though my mother’s is my middle), I mean, is that really any less sexist? At the very least, it shows our patrilineal view. But that particular sexist bit is not something I chose, it was given to me at birth. Changing my last name would be me consciously participating in that world view.
Also, I am actually the last in this family line. My father didn’t have any male children and I have no cousins of this last name, so once I don’t have it, that’s it for this line. But then again, if I can’t make our children’s last name my name (FI would never go for it, I know, it would become a huge argument), that’s the end of this line anyway. It’s just whether it ends at my marriage or at my death.
And in addition to all of that, when I say my first name with his last, it sounds weird. Like I just made up a new person or something, lol.
Anyway, thanks for allowing me to vent. And no, I am not negatively judging any woman who chooses to change her name as participating in sexism, that is *my* world view and I know it is not everyone’s. 🙂 Nor am I judging anyone who does not want to change their name.