what i’m going to do about my last name.
(do we still say “maiden” name? i’m sticking with it: i like its feminine drama.)
i once had a colleague who changed her maiden name to her husband’s name on her magazine’s masthead when she got married; added her maiden name back in as a middle name when they got divorced; then got rid of her ex-husband’s last name and returned to just her maiden name.
when i used to think about this it seemed so dangerous.
lesson learned: she’s married to someone else now, with two kids, and her byline remains the maiden name she started with.
but i don’t worry about the integrity of my byline anymore.
in fact, the idea of changing my name and ridding myself—publicly IRL, on the internet—of my past is honestly kind of thrilling. what if everything was still there (here), but the footprint wasn’t directly related to me? what if moms at the park had a hard time googling those 2010-2012 tumblr posts? i’d rather change my name than take them down. kind of. at this point using my maiden name probably helps me professionally in the magazine world, but hurts me professionally otherwise. (not least because of all those anti-professionalism posts. and i don’t think schools are angling to hire professors who write about their love lives online.) but how much do i care, or does it even matter, about my being hurt professionally? it probably hurts me personally, too.
still, i have such a pretty last name. people have been telling me that my whole life, even when they weren’t trying to sell me something.
and as aliza said recently, what is the big deal, really? if you’re keeping your maiden name, it’s still a man’s name. it’s still the patriarchy. (real feminists make up their own last names when they’re ready. like judy chicago. though even that was related to professional reasons.)
i have a feminist friend who got married twelve years ago today. i was completely flummoxed, even though, or because, it was to a marxist. “it’s romantic,” she said.
i already respond to being called “mrs.” and sign my name with marc’s last name if we’re at a hotel or restaurant. it’s easier. it’s also romantic.
anyway, i’m keeping my last—maiden—name. legally. it seems like a privilege to be able to have two, and to use the one you want, or have one used, depending on the situation. it also seems like more fun.