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Monocycle: Episode 6
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And we’re back!

In this week’s episode of Monocycle, I talk about a relatively recent decision that I made to take my husband’s last name. Not discussed is the prospect of a) my husband taking my last name, nor b) the possibility that we could create a third last name thus leaning into neither a patriarchy nor a matriarchy. But as you’ll see toward the end of our ten minutes together, what name you decide to assume doesn’t really matter so much as does the motivation that propels you toward that decision.

What I’m realizing in putting these episodes together is that it almost always boils back down to: how can I be the happiest version of myself? Anyway, listen on and let me know what you think. I would love nothing more than to have a conversation about what’s in a name.

And because we’re just a week out from Christmas, don’t forget to

a) Indulge yourself

b) Plagiarize pop star lyrics for your holiday cards

c) Wear something snazzy.

Intro song: “The Show Must Be Go” by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons by Attribution 3.0 License. Logo illustration by Kelly Shami; background image via Shutterstock.

Monocycle is produced by Kate Barnett and edited by Nicholas Quazzy Alexander.

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  • I really love these podcasts and I binge listened to them this week. Regarding changing last names, I definitely think it’s a western thing. My mom never took my dad’s last name, and if I get married, I don’t really plan on taking my husband’s name. I don’t really understand why it becomes such a big deal in society (western, anyway). But maybe I’ll feel differently when I get married and am confronted with that decision.

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  • Somehow you’ve managed to bridge feminism, name changing and bikini waxing in a sophisticated yet humorous argument. Loved this so much. Here’s to CHOICE!

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  • Quinn Halman

    My mom’s family is from Quebec and she has only sisters and female first cousins. In that province, no one changes their last name. It’s just not a thing. I think because there’s too much paperwork. My dad’s twin sister also didn’t change her name. I think the important thing is though, my mom never corrects anyone that refers to her as “Mrs. Halman”. Sometimes I wish my last name was hyphenated or I had another middle name because I do like the legacy that comes with my maternal side’s surname

    • I wish I had my mom’s last name! She simply didn’t take my dad’s (Hager) bc she thought it just didn’t sound good! true!!

      • what’s you’re mom’s last name?

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  • Phoebe Nyria

    LEANDRA! Happy birthday! Hope its fabulous. I like you a lot but cannot commit to sending you shoes. Apologies.

  • Happy Birthday, Leandra ☺

  • Michael Buchinger

    Love the podcast! However, I don’t think the volume is loud enough. I like to listen to podcasts on the subway and yours is the only one I can’t quite hear over the subway noise.

    • me

      yeah, i had the same issue with the volume: i could barely hear some parts.

      (and here i thought it was just my old crappy laptop.)

      • Leandra Medine

        important feedback! thanks michael and “me”

  • Louise

    I totally agree on the importance and luxury of choice and comfort with your decision. I am privileged to be married to a man, for whom my name is irrelevant. I do feel however that the obsession with name is inherently patriarchal – this debate does not exist in significant numbers for men, to me it appears it is only women who ponder/think/worry over allegiance through name to themselves, to their parental family, to their new husband, to his family, and of course to their own current and/or future children. Until this issue is something that men start thinking about also, or that women stop worrying about or justifying, this is and will remain, in my opinion, a feminist issue. Thanks for the thought provoking chats!

  • Anna

    Leandra you are my loudspeaker on this! Here in Hong Kong women often have more than one last name and use one at work, another at their husband’s work christmas party. At school kids give themselves an english name and then when they don’t like it anymore (like when you tell them what Fanny actually means) they change it. I know kids who have a korean, a chinese and a latvian name that different people in their lives call them by. People are multi-faceted and complex and we can just embrace that, allow space for that.

    And the point of feminism was never to have women have less freedom. Feminism is not careerism. Or facism. It’s humanism! Go be human, do what you want – was the point of feminism.

  • 1. why can’t we change our identity a few times? I like that.

    2. hmm I don’t think think the legalization of same-sex marriage automatically means that a woman taking her husband’s last name is devoid of patriarchal undertones. As you mention in the notes, would he be as willing to take his wife’s last name?

    2a. As you allude to in the notes, that doesn’t mean a woman keeping her last name is a middle finger to patriarchy either. For most of us, we have our *father’s* last name.

    3. And I think the problem lies in…whether we actually have choice. If you’re doing it just so the wife and the husband and the kids all have the same last name, that’s one thing. But like I mention before and as you allude to in the notes, on the whole do husbands entertain the possibility of taking their wives last name with equal frequency as the idea of the Mrs. ? And assuming you like your maiden name (another nod to patriarchy) as much as you do your prospective Mrs. name. If whatever society you’re living in doesn’t give equal weight to both as options, it’s hard to say it’s a true, pure, choice.

    4. Coming back to hair waxing–yes there is nothing wrong with doing something for your significant other. BUT the possible points of contention that might make the perception of choice in actuality just a perception: Does he truly like you bare as an aesthetic choice a la the ancient greeks a la the same why you ask him to shave his beard vs keeping some scruff, or has he been conditioned to think bareness is akin to cleanliness? Have you?

    Do you truly like shaving your legs and armpits as a purely aesthetic choice? If you would be embarrassed to wear a tank top showcasing them hairs, it’s hard to say for sure. You are not truly choosing if you wouldn’t for a second seriously execute the alternate possibility.

    That being said, you can still be a feminist and do un-feminist things. And I personally still shave my pit hairs (out of fear of social judgement). I don’t shave my legs though!

  • Lucero

    Wait…I don’t want to start a shitstorm here but…did the closing line from this episode mean what I think it meant???!

  • Jenn

    Love these podcasts! Something else I’d like to see on the site, either as a podcast or a article discussion is getting married “young” (i.e. before 25). I know you married around 23/24 and I remember reading about a writer getting married even younger than that. I married at 23 and got a LOT of flack about it, and it’s just an interesting topic of discussion if you could get a group going. Keep it going!

  • Mackenzie

    Leandra, thank you for discussing this!!! I have spoken to my boyfriend a number of times about being unsure of taking his name if/when we get married. I like that you didn’t change yours right away. I’m inspired.

  • Merri

    Taking the husband’s last name is definitely a Western thing–maybe even an English-speaking thing. In many Spanish speaking cultures, the child will have both parents’ names (e.g. Jose Ortega y Gasset). However, one could never refer to the philosopher by his mother’s name Ortega; one would call him either Gasset or Ortega y Gasset, so it still favors the patriarchy. Just thought about sharing that.

  • Erica Yerian

    My husband hates his last name as more often than not, people mispronounce it as “urine” instead of “Yer-E-n”. With a long E sound. He insisted on taking my last name, which is a more traditional name (Hughes). But I wanted his name for a few different reasons. In California you have the option of changing your last name and middle name when you fill out your marriage license, and it does not matter which gender does. It’s all about personal choice and I think it’s so important to remember that!

  • tunie

    Loving, but volume on the player is a bit low. Have to listen on max volume on my laptop. Are you able to adjust on your end? Thanks!

    • tunie

      oops, see it was previously noted…sorry! delete delete… ; )

  • Daisy Arevalo

    My last name is both, my mother’s last name and then my father’s last name, a la Joseph Gordon-Levitt but unlike JGL, my last name was a postpartum mistake and an unhyphenated one. I really like it, though. Even though, I rarely use both of them. I commonly use one or the other.

    In Mexico most people, men and women go their whole lives identified by the last names (the father’s last name and the mother’s after) given by the parents since they were born, even after marriage.

    Who knows what I’ll end up doing with my name once and if marriage happens, but I agree that it has to do with the feeling and what makes you most comfortable.

    The podcast is eh-mazing. Love it, Leandra. And you are so, co-oool.

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