I grew up wondering when I’d say goodbye to Nahman as a last name. To me it was this looming inevitability, rather than a possibility or an option. I was eager to know what would replace it. How weird, I remember thinking, that boys keep their names their whole lives. It was all very gender-, hetero-, every kind of-normative.
All through school, when I liked a dude, I’d privately test out my name with his. This went on for years. When I was with my most recent long-term boyfriend, there was even a time I wondered whether I ought to secure a Gmail account of my first name with his last name, just in case. Signatures may have been doodled during particularly dull hours.
It’s a little bizarre to recall, because by then I was very much entrenched in poking at the patriarchy, at least intellectually. I’d long been frustrated by the no-right-answer nature of the married-name conundrum. I remember lamenting with friends that it felt like a lose/lose. Maybe it’s not so surprising that I still assumed I’d take my boyfriend’s name. These kinds of things are so baked in.
It’s only in the last couple years that I became 99% sure I’d keep my name. (I’m saving that 1% in case I marry into the Kitten family.) Making that call felt good, like one small way to rebel against a tradition I find unsettling. But that’s not to say I think choosing otherwise is wrong. How could I? For every tradition I buck, I give in to another. Picking our battles and making decisions on behalf of ourselves (sometimes in lieu of our entire gender) (because how tiring) is part of being women empowered with agency.
So that’s why I wanted to ask, with no judgement but rather just curiosity, whether you took or intend to take your partner’s last name. That is, if marriage and monogamy are on your radar. If so, why? If not, why?
Illustration by Maria Jia Ling Pitt.