Names

I read with great amusement this article on TheAge.com. It’s an opinion piece about “Why do some wives still change their names?”.
Except that it’s not really opinion, it’s an old fashioned rant by the author towards women who have changed their names, and how they’re letting all the feminists down. It reminds me strongly of the rants of the evils of drugs and alcohol by people who’ve never had the opportunity to experience it first hand, and are so jealous to be in the position to make such a decision.
Now, I’m guilty of the same sorts of rants, and as such, I feel that I’m a good position to respond in kind.
Dear Catherine Deveny, you’re guilty of the worst form of stereotyping. You can’t imagine that a couple could have come to some form of consensus that is contrary to your position.
You’ve painted all these women, which include my beautiful wife, as some form of puppet to my wishes and desires. You’ve trivialised the decisions that we, as a couple, went through in deciding what we wanted to do when we got married and what the future might hold.
How dare you describe my wife as “deeply insecure, deeply conservative or deeply stupid. And in deep denial.” when you don’t even know her.
For those of my dear friends who know my wife, they would laugh at the suggestion that I could own my wife.
For your benefit, I’ll outline what happens when a normal couple, living in a normal relationship make important decisions. We talk about it.
In this case I was extra sensitive about name changing because my wife had already been married, and I was very keen to ensure that she didn’t feel that she had to do anything in that regard. I even offered to change my name to her surname. Does that make me deeply insecure, deeply conservative or deeply stupid ? Because every time this story has been relayed, people have expressed how beautiful and romantic it was.
At the end of the day, I’m a practical person, and it had far less to do with romanticism, than it had to do with living life. How many of your friend with 3 surnames have tried to query a Gas Bill in the name of the other partner ? Get emergency assistance ? Convince the hospital at 7pm that the husband with the smashed elbow is really your husband, and you can go and visit him ? If they’re willing on every level to deal with that crap, then they’re a better person than me. I’ve got better things to do with my time than to deal with the dissonance that exists in bureaucracy when the exceptions to the norm are encountered.
So, that was my reasons for our family (which at that stage was only 2) having the same surname.
My wife also wanted our surname to be the same, but for different reasons. She wanted to have children, and wanted them to grow up with a feeling of identity, of belonging and clanship. She wanted them to have some concrete form of this which they could hold on to. You see, for both our families we are very proud of this identity, as I am sure are all families who have grown up in a loving and sharing environment.
She raised the issues of school, naming of the children. Is it “Eaves” or “McConnell” or “McConnell-Eaves” or “Eaves-McConnell” ? How will other children react when they find out that daddy or mummy has a different name ? Will that be harder for our children than it needs to be ?
Finally the decision came down to my wife about which surname, and she decided that she wanted our family to take my surname. The reason still brings tears to my eyes, and I’m not sure if she remembers the conversation, but I sure do.
“Our two families are the best families in the whole world. Our family name has lots of children and grandchildren to continue it, and your family only has you, and your brother. It’s very important to me that your name continues to exist.”
I don’t know about too many people, but that doesn’t sound “deeply insecure, deeply conservative or deeply stupid. And in deep denial”.
Maybe it’s just not being “deeply jealous” of the opportunity to have somebody to share that choice with.

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4 thoughts on “Names

  1. Yeah, this woman is a classic “Moreland Lefty” (brunswick coburgus leftus). She writes all the typical leftist, feminazi, oppressed save-the-gay-whales shit in The Age all the time. It’s embarrasing, and as you’ve pointed out, offensive. It’s the new millenium and as hard as it is for people to conceive of, we’re evolving.

  2. I read the article before I saw Jon’s response and while perhaps not as worked up as Jon, I certainly was far from impressed.
    I have no issues with having made the decision to change my name, especially now that Georgie is here. I want people to know that we are a family, and that I am proud of it.
    Equally I don’t have issues with the many friends who have made a different choice. Surely that is what feminism is all about – choice.
    I am not sure what went wrong, but somewhere Ms Deveney seems to have lost sight of this.
    I am an intelligent, highly educated, highly skilled woman who freely chose to change my name upon my marriage to my husband. I don’t think I need to validate anything beyond this.

  3. Hi guys,
    I chose to keep my name. I have lots of excuses… people know me professionally; I’m too old to change etc. But the REAL reason is that I am lazy. Changing my licence, passport, the title on the house, loans, bank accounts etc. was just too hard and involved too much bureaucracy – I could not be bothered.
    Pete did consider changing his name too. But decided not to in the end.
    The kids are cool. They know I have a different name.
    One huge advantage (before the Do not call register) you knew it was a telemarketer if they asked for Mr Savage.
    I do get called Kylie Toose – even on your blog link, and I don’t mind at all. Both my grandmother and Peter’s call me Kylie Toose too. Fortunately, it is so common not to change your name that most “systems” can handle married partners with different surnames. I guess I have to weigh up whether I have created more paperwork for myself keeping names different than if I bit the bullet way back when… nah still can’t be bothered. 🙂
    Kylie Savage
    aka Kylie Toose

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