Inside of every woman there is a constellation of events that shape her into who she is. Marriage is considered to be one of the most defining events of many women’s lives, but the expectation that they need to change their last name negates that.
Traditionally, keeping one’s maiden name is seen as a feminist notion. I self-identify as a feminist, but I feel that my opinion of marriage is something that should not only be attributed to feminism but also my self-respect.
According to The New York Times, 17 percent of women who married for the first time in the ‘70s kept their maiden name and that during that time period, many states’ laws required women to take their husband’s last name in order to do banking and vote.
There is no denying that the historical context behind keeping one’s maiden name has feminist undertones. As great as I think the concept is, I also want to advocate for a philosophical understanding of the idea.
Changing my last name after marriage erases my identity. One could argue that it’s figurative because only my surname would change and I would remain the same woman — except, on every paper and signature I will be required to be this “new woman.”
My avid belief that I should not compromise my own identity stems from an idea in political science called constructivism. Constructivists believe that people and their countries are a product of the world they create. From a constructivist point of view, each person is born a blank slate and given an identity based on the social events that occur in their life.
Marrying someone is important to me, but not significant enough for me to unravel the fabric of my life and to start over. After all, it is only one thread in the thousands that will make up who I am.
If my future husband truly cares for me, he will understand this concept. This is not to diminish the beauty of marriage but rather to enhance it. Since marriage is a union between two people, they should have their own names and legacies.
There was a time in my life when all I wanted was for my last name to dissipate into thin air, but it had more to do with the way that I saw myself than wanting to be married. I spent my days searching for ways to be self-assured that I was anybody other than who I was.
It wasn’t until I stood back and put things into perspective was when I realized how my desire for a new name perpetuated self-hatred. I was obsessed with perfection as soon as I learned that I was not perfect.
I will not waste space in this article talking about how chasing for perfection is unrealistic. Instead, I will say that the story of each individual person begins with one simple thing: their name. How each person gives meaning to that name is dependent on the life they lead.
I have worked very hard throughout my life to be Angelina Dequina. My name rhymes, it’s hard to pronounce and it’s overwhelmingly long. But this is who I will always be, even after marriage.