A friend of mine promptly changed her name when she got married. In fact, she couldn’t wait. Her last name was Weed, her father, unbelievably, is named Richard and goes by “Dick” (needless to say, he is of a an older generation).  Not changing her name was, in her mind, a non issue. I didn’t think her name was so bad, but then I didn’t live with it.

When I was married four years ago, I had the obligatory talk with my husband-to-be over the matter. He was surprised I asked because he always assumed I would keep my name. He was right, of course, and I did. It never crossed my mind that I would ever change my monicker. I was 30 when we married, I already had a career well under way and I had lived what I hope is a full third of my life by that point, so why mess with a good thing? Besides, who would I be otherwise? My name is as much ingrained in my identity as a person as any man. Easy choice.

My husband is an only child of a fairly traditional family, so this was certainly something new. With only a female cousin and another uncle who will not be procreating in this lifetime, there came the concern about “The Family Name” and carrying on my family name apparently was of no great concern and it wasn’t an issue to to them until chose to make it one.

But why isn’t this something women think about? As I am in the middle of a wedding year from hell (6 weddings, all out of town, in six different states. Thanks Guys!) I am constantly floored by all this mindless wedding tradition that women are so eager to sign up for: the huge expense, the white dress, being given away, the lifting of the veil, changing your name, etc., if you truly consider where these traditions come from, it’s no wonder women only make 77 cents on the dollar, have not held higher office, and and are still largely second class citizens in this country.

Because we allow ourselves to be.

We outnumber men and vote in higher numbers, but we still seem to choose antiquated options for ourselves and part of that, I think, starts with how you begin your life a partnered person. Hey, if you want to pretend to be virginal property transfered by one man to another and labeled and branded as such, then, I guess, you have that right. Feminism is about choice. But make sure you understand that you are choosing something. The white dress has a meaning, as does the veil, as does being given away, as does changing your name.

I proposed to my husband, I wore an orange wedding dress (sans veil), my dad was present but not involved in the service, the whole affair cost us about 10 ten times less than the average amount (which is $25,000!), and I have kept my name. It’s a good question to ask why I bothered with any of it and the answer is simple: as a couple with mutual social and financial interests, being married gives you the greatest legal protection to secure those interests in this country.

And the wedding was a freakin’ blast! We had such a great time, but we also carefully removed many activites of the traditional cermony because to us, actions still hold meaning. In this “hey, lighten up, it’s just tradition” attitude about weddings in this country, it is important to us to be mindful of our actions and what they say. If and when we decide to start a family, our children will be taught that same mindfulness.

My decisions work for me. I won’t pretend they work for everyone. My husband reminds me that not every women is cut out to be a ultra-liberal feminist, and I hate to admit it, but he’s right.

But I like to believe it isn’t asking too much for people to think before they act. 

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