Wednesday, December 22, 2010

what's in a name?

first name: emily
emily means industrious.
industrious means constantly, regularly, or habitually active or occupied.

last name: justice
justice means the quality of being just, impartial, or fair.

i feel a strong connection to my name.  it is me.  

getting married this year has deepened the relationship i have with my name and has encouraged me to explore the reasons for my not taking my partner's last name.  not that taking his name was ever on the table, but i still found myself in a number of conversations around name changing and the reasons people change their names, not just for marriage.  many people in my life understand our decision, have similar feelings on the topic and some even seemed relieved. ("you're not changing your name, are you?!?") 

what i find interesting are the assumptions people make and how we will sometimes bargain when faced with something that challenges our own perspective.  one statement i have heard a number of times is "well, you'll probably change your name once you have children."  there are a number of assumptions at work here.  one, they are assuming that i want to have children.  two, they are assuming that if i were to have children, they would automatically have my partner's last name.  whenever i have confronted these assumptions, i have yet to hear a convincing response to the simple question of "why?"

i don't want this to be misinterpreted in that i don't want women to ever change their last names. that decision is extremely personal and i respect that to my core. however, i hope that the decision is made thoughtfully and because they truly want to, not because of an antiquated norm.  

oh, and i do look forward to a time when it is common to ask both partners in a relationship if they plan on changing their name. 


  1. More people call me "Yasi" than "Christina". Our last names are legit!

  2. Have you heard "you'll change when you have children" too? I'm interested to know if it is just some of the people around me or if that is really common.

  3. Industrious Justice! It is so fitting of you.

    Though I'm not married, many of my very close friends are going through these same struggles. Many women have spent years building up a professional identity and it's incredibly difficult to expect them to part with that. You aren't alone on the comments about "you'll change when you have children". Societal expectations are slow to change.

  4. I love this. One of my coworkers, who has been married for over 20 years, combined her last name with her husband's last name. So, they both ended up changing their last names. I love it. And seriously, it's just a name. My mom got remarried in 1995 and didn't change her last name. My mom is definitely a Twila Mullenix, not a Twila Johnson. :) xoxo

  5. I think my mom initially had issues with me not changing my name, but once she started noticing the trend socially, she herself commented that since people are getting married later, women are more attached to their names since they've had them longer into their adult lives than previous generations and, as you stated, have professional reputations attached to them as well. I've definitely noticed that older brides (late 20s and beyond) have more hesitation to taking their husbands' names than a fresh-out-of-college bride. Just my two cents.