Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A Rose by Any Other Name? WTF?

So there's been some talk over at Approaching Midnight about names--keeping them, hyphenating them, changing them, etc.

I thought I'd offer my two cents.

I always have been and always will be Emily Farris. Changing my name when or if I get married has never crossed my mind. And it's not because I'm a liberal or liberated, which I am. It's because I like my name. My name defines who I am. I am Emily Farris. When or if I get married I'm not going to change who I am, so why change my name? Put an apple in a fruit salad, and you still call it apple.

There are practical reasons to keep my name. For one, I've already established myself as a freelance writer and political activist and a name change in the next 10 years would be a detriment to my career. Also, my father doesn't have any sons, and I want to carry on the Farris name as long as possible. But truth be told, I haven't made this decision based on any practicalities. Keeping my name has never been a question in my mind. Changing my last name is just as strange as changing my first or my middle.

Not that there's anything special about my name. For the past 10 years Emily has been the number one baby name for girls. And Farris, though not common like Smith or Jones, is a good, solid easy name to pronounce and remember. Other than "Ferris Wheel" and "Ferris Beuller," it's a lame-joke-free name. It's definitely cruelty free.

In junior high, when my friends would write their first name with their crush's last, I never did. Sure, I drew the little hearts with the arrows through them and made cute name doodles, but it was always "Emily + Brandon" or "Emily + Steve." First names were fair game. But I never had any desire, even at that young, boy-crazy age, to take any one else's last name, in jest or lust.

"What about when you have kids, and they take your husbands name?" My older sister Heather, who married at 20 and took her husband's name, has asked me.

My response: "My mom and I had different names when I was growing up and it never bothered me. You turned out OK, too."

My parents divorced when I was three and my mom legally reclaimed her maiden name shortly thereafter. And even in a conservative suburb like Independence, Missouri, I never had any problems with it. Heather, who has a different mother than my younger sister Jo and me, also kept the Farris name after her mother remarried and took her new husband’s name. It didn't seem to traumatize any of us.

Family models are changing, and the ritual of taking the husband's name might soon be archaic. I'm keeping my my name forever.

"What if your future husband is upset by this?" you may ask.

Come on now, would I really marry someone that conventional?

Unless, of course, I meet someone with the last name "Imafuckingrockstar." Then, I might reconsider.


Daniel said...

I think if I married a woman with that last name, "Imafuckingrockstar" I too might change my name. Anyone know of an instance where a man took his wifes last name? That would definately be interesting. Again, I plan on marrying the type of woman who would want to keep her own name, which I would completely respect.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

As a kid of the 80s my parents gave me a hyphenated last name. Good idea until your kid actually needs to write it in a form using bubbles. Where's the fucking dash. Do I even have a dash? The entire world doesn't seem to understand them. My passport and DL both had different names. Go figure.

I dated a girl for a while who also had a hyphenated last name. If we married and had kids they would have a double hyphenated last name.

So my brother and I broke tradition. Our mom raised it so we both changed our last names to hers. Now we carry that name with pride.

Still a bitch of a thing to do to someone.