In Defense of Changing My Last Name

When I finally got mawiaeeed, there were a hundred reasons to keep my last name. Despite fueling immeasurable torment from immature boys, it had been oh so very mine for 30 years. It tied me to a family who had been by my side, dusting me off after boy after boy after boy after boy after boy after boy after boy after boy was gone. (I think I got ‘em all.)

Even beyond my family ties, this had been my name as  began to make my own way in the world, forging a career, figuring out who I was. With it, I had claimed the coveted name-only gmail address, social media accounts and URL. All my life accomplishments were commemorated with this name. It was emblazoned upon diplomas, articles, name plates, plaques. It was the who I’d been up until this point.

Lots of women choose to keep their last name. It may even be... trendy. Some are very vocal about why. Even women who have hated their last name as much as I’ve loathed my own have opted to keep it. Some think, as a feminist, you damn well better keep your last name.

But I didn’t. I have no truly revolutionary reason, just a bunch of little reasons that are just as much my own as my former name was.

Defense 1

Yes, part of my reasoning was that I hated, despised, abhorred, not so much my last name as the constant battle that was pronunciation. I had already changed the way I pronounced it, so changing it completely was one step better. Upon graduating from high school, I opted for the easier English pronunciation of my profoundly German surname. Every time someone needed to know my last name, I had to spell it out, pronounce it, spell it out again and, still, no one ever got the pronunciation or the spelling right. Dealing with the Green vs. Greene clarification has been heaven by comparison.

Defense 2

There’s something romantic about sharing a name with the person you choose to share your life with. As long as I can remember, love meant taking his name. It’s why I scrawled Mrs. Jesse Skelley across all my notebooks in sixth grade. Yes, yes this perception is saturated in the patriarchy and years of misogynistic traditions, but I ain’t even care, it’s sweet. It’s a tangible way of combining two lives into one. I’m pretty sure that’s what the Spice Girls were on about. That name could be yours, his, a combination or a random word you both think is fun to say. In my case, him taking on my name was out of the question (see above).

Defense 3

Plus, changing my last name meant I got to change my middle name. For as long as I had sense, I’ve wanted to add an “e” to my middle name. Getting married meant I finally had a logical opportunity to do so. It meant other things, too, but mostly that I got to change my middle name. So, it became Anne with an “e” and Green without.

Defense 4

He didn’t care if I changed it or not. At least I think he didn’t care. I didn’t really discuss it with him first. I just assumed it was fine because it was what I wanted, and he typically supports what I want. (I just asked him, now, if he cared one way or the other, he said he didn’t give two figs) Had he not supported what I wanted and taken a hard stance like these morons did, I probably wouldn’t have been terribly compelled to marry him. Because he would be a sucky person and no one wants to marry a sucky person.   

Defense 5

I have a much stronger connection to my first and middle names than I ever did my last. They have both played a greater role in defining who I am and where I come from. My dad thoughtfully chose my first name for me as the feminine variation of Elijah. (He won after I had been named Jessica for half an hour.) My middle name was borrowed from my mother’s first, and it now reflects the worlds of Green Gables and Avonlea she introduced me to.

The Defense Rests

The biggest reason I chose to take his last name was that I felt it really made us family. Kids now, later or never, the two of us are still a family and I wanted to have a shared family name. The name doesn’t make a family. Those who keep separate names are no less family than those who don’t. But, for us, me taking his last name meant we could be Team Green, which is incredibly sentimental and lame, but it’s what marriage is supposed to be, right? A lame, sentimental partnership. That partnership manifests itself in different ways for every couple. Ours happens to be a cheesy near rhyme. So, why wouldn’t you embrace that?