It’s 5:00am and I have no internet connection and I just woke up but I need to write this. It’s been bothering me since yesterday.
First of all, it’s a shame that I need to write this, because no one should question me when I say in all sincerity that I am keeping my last name when I eventually get married, and I’m wouldn’t mind if my future husband took my name as well. If he doesn’t that’s fine too, no one should *have* to take someone else’s name. But here’s what happened yesterday:
I posted this article with 15 men’s views on taking their wife’s last name. It isn’t surprising that only a few were open to the idea (kudos to you all!) but that the rest were misogynistic answers. For example:
“There’s something so emasculating about the notion of a man washing away his name altogether. The thought makes me uncomfortable, and kind of angry.”
“If hoards of men started taking their wives’ surnames, it would be an unfortunate and perhaps irreversible step towards a matriarchal goddess culture…”
“Listen, I’m a feminist. But we have to draw the line somewhere. Equal rights shouldn’t come at the cost of upending all established conventions. Why get married at all if you don’t want to embrace the related traditions?”
That last one is especially hurtful. No, buddy, you don’t get to pick and choose which traditions aren’t hurtful to women. Doesn’t work like that. . It’s like when sentences start “I’m not a racist but…..” No, you are definitely a type of racist if you’re saying that.
I’ve posted things like this before, actually. Never actually truly stating my opinion though. Usually the articles are thought provoking, and I simple repost what others think about the idea of women keeping their last name. This article would not have been different if it hadn’t gotten a mixed review from my Facebook friends.
I posted something else fairly feminist a little earlier and got a decent amount of likes on that status regarding Target and how their toy sections are no longer going to be labeled according to gender. Seriously, there are people in the world who *actually* think that there should be a difference in the building sets that girls get to play with. They’re usually pink. Pink isn’t a problem, but rendering everything that is marketed to a specific gender pink is. The strange toy industry gendering everything even harmful to little boys. Little girls play with pink dolls, boys play with violent things in green and blue like monster trucks and dinosaurs. Why is it so HORRIFYING to see a little boy playing with a doll? It’s not going to make your son gay, believe me. And if he is gay, it’s definitely not because he once picked up a doll.
Personally I *hated* pink when I was a little girl, when I got old enough to pick things that I liked, anyway. I never played with Barbie’s either. I remember going over friends houses and having to pretend that I liked playing pretend with them. Other dolls I gave a chance sometimes, but usually I played pretend with my stuffed animals over dolls. What really got me excited was the hot wheels tracks I got and played around with. I also got this REALLY cool Steve Irwin Crocodile Hunter remote control truck (Thanks Daddy, I still think that was one of the best gifts of my childhood) (RIP Steven Irwin). Other toys that excited me included skydancers because they literally flew and hit us in the face occasionally and was hilarious, and my working/moving Ferris Wheel K’Nex set that I got on Christmas Morning and had completely set up my Christmas night. One year I got a cute vanity set that I liked, and other traditionally girl play sets, but honestly the things I was most excited was probably the “boy” toys.
SO that’s where I was at when it came to that Facebook status I posted. Many people liked it, but when I posted about my last name, only women liked the post which I found only a little strange, and it only got around 5 likes. Were my friends just busy and didn’t see it? Do I post too much? Or perhaps they didn’t want to engage in the almost-fight that was already happening in the comments section….. Let me tell you about my name first. My last name is Danku. I love that last name. It’s Hungarian, like my Dad’s side of my family, and his side is also Polish. It’s punny sometimes, (it means Thank You in Dutch) and I got to make awesome account names from it. I got called “Danku” by a few people in high school and still today, and it was the thing that I put on the back of my shirts when we made T-shirts for Marching Band. I’ve had my entire life with this last name and I love the experiences I’ve had because of it. I went everywhere with my Dad a lot because he was a police officer and on his days off would take care of me. I would get people saying “she’s definitely a Danku” at times and when I wasn’t with him and someone heard my last name they would immediately know who I was because my Dad had helped them out in the past with something. He basically knew everyone in town because he grew up here, was a firefighters for some years, and then became a police officer in the same town. He has been in the town for about 70 years. I am definitely proud to be his daughter and like it when people recognize me as his daughter. I also got recognized as my sister’s sister in school. She was 7 years older and by the time her teachers had me they were like “wait… your sister is Jill Danku, I’m so glad I have you too!” Again, I was proud to be a Danku because, naturally, I look up to my sister (seriously, she’s always been a boss ass bitch). There was a pun that people would laugh at me for occasionally, but I loved it. People would make the joke to my Dad around town. “What’s your last name again?” “Danku” “You’re welcome! Hahaha” Lame, but hey, it’s ours. My high school principal even made the joke to me occasionally without knowing me personally. For example when senior parking spaces were raffled off from a microphone. He said my name aloud and joked about it in front of the school. At graduation I got back at him because when I walked across to grab my diploma and he said my name out loud, I said “you’re welcome” as I passed him. I know, hilarious right? I also love looking into the history of my family. My parents grew up across the street from each other and my entire family on both of their sides owned one street in my town. My Mom’s brother was my Dad’s best friend growing up. They all went to the same elementary and high schools, which was tradition for me as well. My Dad served in the Army during Vietnam, and just looking at older photos from when he grew up in the 1940s, 50s and 60s makes me feel some way. “I am a part of this family” I think when I look at the black and white photos. I did some basic searching on ancestry.com for a little bit this year on my mom’s side of the family. Found a lot of relatives I had no idea about, learned about their trades etc., etc. I already knew a lot about my Mom’s side of the family. For example, Popop helped build a lot of the things around town, somewhere in her history is someone from Russia, not just Poland, and my ancestors literally moved an entire hill in the town next to us in order to build the church and school my entire family attended. Pretty cool stuff. However I didn’t have *too* much on my dad’s side so I started just looking up my Dad on google. He’s been around a while there’s got to be something right? I was right! I found articles from when he was a police officer (one that’s hilarious and involves a man jumping off a bridge into a getaway boat to escape) but then I found a hit on his name from the 1930s. William Danku, born 1931? Weird. My Dad was born in 1946. I clicked on it and what came up was an old time-y obituary stating that 11 year old William Danku was killed getting hit by a car. What????
I asked my Mom to ask my Dad (that’s usually how phone calls go) and he mentioned that he vaguely knew about that he was named after someone. Turns out that little boy would have been his uncle if he had lived. He was named after his uncle. That’s so sweet! Suddenly my Dad’s name had a bigger meaning, and again I was proud to be a part of the Danku clan. I took the name Danku and had fun with it, putting it in everything, joking about it, and simply being proud of it. I am a Danku. Wouldn’t have it any other way. I have some cousins but only one that I know about who is male who could possibly carry the name over to his wife and children if he decides to get married, but I also don’t really talk to much of my extended family. I didn’t really think about keeping my name when I got married one day, but the more I thought about it, the more it just made sense for me.
That’s why I could not understand why people chuckle whenever I bring it up. It’s not just older relatives or friends that have a “traditional” mindset that do this either. It’s my friends, coworkers, and people I meet that have never met me before!
“How will anyone know you’re married?”
I mean… I can tell them? If I wanted them to know they probably were at the wedding, so…
“You’ll change your mind. Having someone else’s last name just shows you love them!”
So does a thousand things I could do that is 100% more loving than having their last name. Also, if that shows love why can’t they take mine???
“Oh, so you’re going to hyphenate?”
WHY CAN’T I JUST KEEP MY NAME????
After that article was posted one of the most hurtful comments was “Sure, if they want to wear a wedding dress, too! This crap has to stop somewhere!”
….. Excuse me?
My opinion had literally just been reduced to crap. I’m sure he was referring to the feminist movement or ideals as “crap” but that makes my own opinion crap then. I didn’t get angry, really, I tried to defend myself and MY decision with some decency and be respectful to someone who I really do love. I hope he understands a little better after that conversation, that’s all I can hope for.
The problem I have with all of this isn’t just that there are people out there to think it’s taboo for a man to change his name to a woman’s but it’s the culture behind it. While it’s become to norm to hyphenate your name if you’re a woman, it’s still not too popular for men to take woman’s names, and when suggested, breaking down those walls is harder than we thought. For those of you who claim you would “never take a woman’s name” because it’s not right, ask yourself why. Is it because it would somehow shrivel up all your manliness? Is it because women are supposed to take the man’s name because “that’s just how it always was”. (Bad excuse, I’m not taking that crap.) I understand some people have the explanation of patrilineal tracking through history, but you know what, you can track your family’s history no matter who’s name you use so try again. Would it really make you feel like less of a man if you took a woman’s name? Not sorry at all. Bask in that feeling for a while because that is literally how I feel every time someone tells me I shouldn’t keep my name because of “traditional” bullshit.
I explained all of this over the phone to my mom after I got worked up enough over it and she said she had already read the post. She also told me my Dad was happy I was keeping my name, too. That made my heart happy.
For some people taking someone else’s last name works. I’m not putting that decision down. It really is special to take someone else’s last name. Hyphenating isn’t bad either. That way you keep your own name AND take someone else’s. But what about the kids? If I have children, will they automatically have my husbands name. That’s the norm in our culture right now… even if I keep my last name, and people praise me for that decision, it wouldn’t live on because my future children would be assumed to have the father’s last name.
All of that trouble trying to explain why I want to keep my last name to people, and I still get people not understanding why it wouldn’t be the end of the world to have my kids with my name.
“Wouldn’t your husband be upset?”
“Why would you want to do that?”
I LITERALLY COULDN’T EXPLAIN IT ANY MORE THAN I JUST DID.
Now I have the right to change my mind if I want. Who knows who I am going to marry one day. As of right now, I want to keep my last name. It would be great to keep it going, and I am not opposed to hyphenating if that is what I so choose, but I think women need to know that there are a lot of options that they have when it comes to this decision. It’s not just down to hyphenate your name or take theirs.
While talking to my Mom on the phone I explained all of that to her and she agreed, but she did slip once and say “well if it was a deal breaker for the guy you’re marrying maybe you’d hyphenate” to which I corrected her with “I won’t be marrying a guy like that don’t worry. I will only hyphenate if I make the decision to.”
I’m pretty sure she smiled on the other end of the phone. My Dad too.