What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet

BlogHer Original Post

Liz Rizzo’s suggestion that engagement rings are outdated was so interesting that I thought I’d piggyback on her ideas... My big plan was to never get married. “Marriage is a tool of the patriarchy; a way for men to claim women as their property and subjugate them,” I’d argue when I was 16 years old. Proof was easy to find, starting with the fact that women lose their own identities when they get married by taking on a new name.

Granted, it’s not like a woman’s “maiden name” was not a tool of the patriarchy, either, as a child’s last name indicates which man’s property she is. By taking on a new name, she is property transferred from one man to another, so it really shouldn’t matter, should it? However, when women got married, they seem to take on their husband’s first name as well. If, for example, Suzanne Reisman married James Smith, she’d now be Mrs. James Smith. She doesn’t have any identity at all except as some sort of walking extension of her husband. I found this prospect terrifying.

Well, long story short, I obviously changed my mind at some point thanks to Husband and got married. (I even tied the knot at a relatively young age and was accused of being a child bride, but that’s another story - see picture for evidence.) But I kept my name. This caused consternation amongst some of our socially retarded peers. When we were engaged, a friend of ours (I’ll call him Stupid McFuck for this story), who knew Husband since grade school, but became friendly with me when we all were at NYU, rang one day and when I answered, greeted me as “Mrs. Husband.” I was relieved that we was on the other end of a phone rather than in the same room as me because I would have kicked his sac with my steel-toed Doc Martins, and that is not good for anyone. Instead, I inhaled sharply and explained that I had no plans to change my name. I pictured his frown as he asked in a concerned manner, "Aren't Husband's parents mad?" (Answer: Uh, no. Why would they be?) and “Well, what will your children’s last name be?” At that, I barked, “McFuck, you asshole,” and hung up on him. (Needless to say, he voted for Bush in the last two elections and thus continues to deserve the name Stupid McFuck.)

As demonstrated by the above story, my name is very important to me, and when people refer to me as Mrs. Husband, or far worse, Mrs. Husband Husband, I must fight an urge to reach into the throats and rip their larynxes out. I try very hard to make this clear to people so that I will not have the urge to hurt them. Other than douche bags my age who vcote for Bush, this vexes elderly people more than most, and they insist on referring to me as Mrs. Husband. (I once had an actual argument with one of my elderly relatives, who insisted that my name could not possibly be Suzanne Reisman, as I am married. My sister had to physically drag me away before I scratched my otherwise kind and lovable relative’s eyes out.)

I have definitely received invitations to events from my peers in which the disrespectful asses addressed the invitation to Mr. and Mrs. Husband Husband. In the early days of our marriage, this caused an acid-reflux like reaction of bitterness to boil up my throat, and I would go around muttering what a mistake it was to get married, since people refused to acknowledge that not every marriage was like theirs. I would also insist that I was obviously not invited to whatever event the invitation was for, as there is no “Mrs. Husband Husband.” Then I’d fill out the response card as, “Mr. Husband Husband and (in bold) Ms. Suzanne Reisman.” Usually people got the message and the place card was addressed properly. When that doesn’t work, I refer to the husband as “Mr. Wife Wife” and continue to address the wife by her unmarried moniker to see how they like it when people respect their marital wishes.

Given my strong feelings about changing one’s name, it has taken me a very long time to adjust to the current trend among women my age to eagerly take their husband’s name upon marriage. Almost all of my friends, both male and female, are very progressive, so it surprises me that I know a mere handful of women who didn’t change their name. It just seems weird to me that a woman would invest so much time in her education and work life, building a reputation under an identity and accruing props along the way for her achievements, and then suddenly become someone else. Sure, she’s not really someone else. A rose is a rose by any other name, right? Even dunderheads like me know that. But it is confusing and takes explaining when you walk into someone’s office and call her Dr. Blahblah or what have you, then notice that the medical degree posted on the wall is to Susie Sunshine. Who the fuck is that? The mental reconciliation process kicks in, starting with, “Shit, am I seeing a fraud?” to “Oh, maybe she is using someone else’s office” to finally, “Ah, she’s married. I am in the right place after all.”

Anyway, after beating people over the head with blunt objects in an attempt to force them to respect my choice, I realized that I should back the fuck up when it came to judging my friends’ decisions about what they want to be legally known as. Now I don’t bother getting bent out of shape unless I am reading some article about the new “trend” of women not changing their names (I don’t think at any point in time more married women in the US had their own names than their beloved’s, so I am not sure how this marks a “trend”), which more often than not will site a return to “values” (seems that brazen hussies like me who kept their names don’t have values – who knew?) and the death of the failed feminist experiment. Usually the article includes a quote from some twat to prove that feminism is useless, and she’ll say something brainless like, “If we have the same name, we’ll never get divorced because it will bring us so much closer.” Yeah, I’m sure if Christie Brinkley had insisted that the media refer to her as Mrs. Whatever-her-cheating-husband’s-name-is, he never would have shtupped his teenage intern.

Do what you want about your name, but don’t be a moron, or I will still make fun of you.

Hard core ideas like Liz's turn Suzanne on (her mind, pervs), and she also blogs about them at Campaign for Unshaved Snatch (CUSS) & Other Rants


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