email naming conventions and marriage

from my friend group’s forums:

many of us have emails, mainly gmail, that we plan to keep for…well, indefinitely.  and these are often some combination of first name and last name.  i feel like we’re around the first generation getting these things before marriage.  will people who change their names change their emails as well?  Will fewer people change their name b/c of things like email and online identities that are already established?

this is certainly part of a general trend of having a more established adult identity before marriage.  we’re getting married later, farther into our careers, more settled into our lives, and so every change has a new depth to it.  you hear snippets of the light side of this – whose apartment?  whose couch?  its the substance of sitcoms.  and then there are the biggies – whose city?  whose career move?  enter feminist literature and marriage counselors.

but marriage and last names have this special significance.  it is part of identity.  rejecting the idea of becoming mrs “john smith”, my mother kept her maiden name.  but we kids got dad’s surname.  moving another step, my roommate has a hyphenated last name.  which, i hope, is a one-generation solution (because nancy abravanel-greer-…-hoffman is unwieldy).  two of my friends picked a new last name to start their family with, neither being terribly happy with the ones they had.  almost instinctively, upon hearing this, everyone questions their relationship with their families.  i know a few people with their mother’s surname.

of course, on the forums, things had to get more complex:

Guys out there, how open to that idea would you be if your wife proposed [using her surname for the children]?  Some of the guys I’ve talked with seemed to think that was too radical and preferred the patriarchal naming scheme “because it’s traditional”

d’oh.  my instinctive reaction was shock.  i have a strong family identity around our name.  it symbolizes a lot to me, a sense of togetherness that unites a family separated by thousands of miles.  we’ve traced the family back generations (even finding a 15th century relative in italy).  we have an interesting family lore about the name changing when great-grandpa immigrated from greece.  i feel that it is part of our story.

of course, there is no reason that this story should just be traced through the men.  and its sort of delusional, i suppose.  family reunions have at least four (major) last names, and i don’t share a surname with some of the relatives i feel closest to.

in the end, i wish i could say i would be totally fine with it, but i really don’t know.  it isn’t quite as simple as ‘whats in a name’. 

[update: for women in academia, how possible is it to change last names, once your work is known under the maiden name?  given paired names, i suppose one could check how difficult ‘making a name for yourself’ can be, based on citation patterns… hmm.  i know doctors experience lots of red tape for name changes.]

[update2:  doing more reading, and something bothers me.  all this ‘it is easier for the children‘ stuff is junk.  mom and dad have different last names.  never felt like less of a family.  we even have different religions, races, birthparents… still a family.  generally, seems like the consensus is vanity / clerical.  odd, no?  still seems complex to me.]

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2 Responses to “email naming conventions and marriage”

  1. Easy Name Change Says:

    Men touting traditon for reasons not to change a name are odd. If the shoe was on the other foot! Strange because circumscision was always a ‘tradition’ that boys went through but in a modern age where these things are just no longer necessary they just get dropped. Names are not really on their way to getting dropped, as 85% or women getting married chose to change their name. There is just no stigma for those who chose not to change their name, or to take a new name entirley.

  2. Cool Blog Says:

    Most of the time I do not post on blogs, but I would like to mention that this post really forced me to do so. Really nice post!

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