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What’s in a Name?

I am a very happily married woman.  I’ve been married for more than 12 years now, and I can say with certainty that hitching my wagon to MOMD’s star was the best decision I’ve ever made.  And our wedding?  It was awesome, if I do say so myself.  The ceremony took place in a lovely church which we had been attending regularly for more than a year, in the Beach of Toronto.  Our reception happened at the Westin Harbour Castle, in Toronto on the waterfront.  It was the best party I ever threw, which is exactly how you’re supposed to feel about your wedding.

When MOMD and I tied the knot, I did not take his name.  If you’ve been around this blog for a while, this will come as no surprise.  What we did do though, was each of us took each other’s name.  Yes, you read that right: MOMD took my last name and added it to his.  I took his last name and added it to mine.  On our driver’s licenses, passports, health cards, all official ID we are hyphenated.  The rationale I used when I pitched the idea to MOMD was that if a hockey player leaves one team to join another team, the player gets a new jersey with the new team’s name and logo on it.  You’ll never see a TML jersey on a player on the Senator’s team.  Despite not being a sports fan at all, this analogy made sense to him.  Thus the SB moniker was born.

This weekend just past –  Thanksgiving weekend – I attended the wedding of my longtime friend to the love of his life.  It was a wonderful ceremony, and their reception was the party of the decade.  The bride, I am sure is keeping her last name.  Also getting married this weekend was another woman with whom I am a business associate.  She has taken her husband’s last name.

Neither occurrence is uncommon: every day people get married, and every day people choose either to change their name or not.  I try not to have opinions on the subject; it has no affect on my life, and frankly is none of my business either way.  What did you choose to do when you got married?  Are you happy with your choice?  Because really: to me, that’s all that matters.

So like I was saying: some people I know got married this weekend.  One of them posted on on facebook a few days later something about how it’s weird to have a different name.  This status update garnered some attention, most of it saying, “Yeah, I remember that too!” and one comment saying basically, “I just couldn’t get used to it and so I kept my name.”  That one little comment caused someone to post a very opinionated, non-supportive, response.  And the response had nothing to do at all really with the original post.  The jist of the reply was to the effect: “Part of the deal when you get married is taking his name.  Why get married if you don’t do this?  No matter what, you are ‘Mrs’ now.”

MAN did that comment set me off!  Who was this woman?  Who died and made her the judge of facebook nation?  More to the point: what is her problem?!?!  That one comment sent me back 12 years to when we first got married, and one of MOMD’s aunts said of our name “What’s this? She’s a Brown now!”  She was very put out that 1) I would choose not to take her family name and 2) she could not find us in the phone book, since she never bothered to learn how to spell my last name.

That one comment, made by a virtual stranger to me, set me on edge for months.  Literally.  I could not think of this woman, could not hear her name mentioned, without reliving that comment.  Looking back on it now, through the wisdom (*snicker* *snicker*, she thinks she’s ‘wise’ now *snicker* *snicker*) of my years, what I felt at the time, though I could not express it, was betrayed.  I felt judged by someone who was older than I was, and betrayed by a fellow woman who was not supporting a woman’s right to choose.

I’m sure she didn’t mean it that way; I’m sure choice has nothing to do with it.  In her mind, I joined the greatest family God ever created, and why wouldn’t I want to proudly proclaim that?  She wasn’t thinking about how it had been my name for my whole life, my own attachment to my family, my own pride in our history, about me at all in fact.  She was speaking her knee-jerk reaction.  (Emphasis on jerk.)

My marriage is just as important as anyone else’s.  It’s just as real, just as committed, just as loving, just as everything as someone who chose to take their husband’s name.  Or not to change their name at all. And don’t you dare call me “Mrs”.

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Posted by on October 10, 2012 in Family, Opinion, Vexations

 

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This World We Live In…

Every day I start off my day by reading blogs.  I don’t read news papers, or news sites even (unless someone on my facebook feed links to an article that tweaks my interest).  I don’t listen to the radio, I don’t watch newscasts.  I am in what I like to call a “Media Free Bubble”.  As such, I miss out on things.  And the only ways that I stay informed of what’s going on in the world around me is through MOMD (who himself is a journalist), facebook, and blogs.

This week I stumbled upon a new blog: http://wrathofmom.blogspot.ca/.  When I find something new, where the writing is good and the humour is plenty, I tend to read through a bunch of entries to get the flavour for the site and decide whether it will make it into my usual haunts, so to speak.  Which is how I became aware of this.  And this.  I’m sure you can imagine it really made me uncomfortable.  Because wow…  way to be totally insensitive, even after the issues with your material are raised.  Far more appropriate would have been  to say, “Oh – I had no idea.  Thank you for raising our awareness.”  Or something like that.  Instead, the station did nothing and time is being spent discussing the problem in the House of Commons, in front of our Prime Minister.

And then there’s the whole business with Ashley Judd.  I mean, 6 months ago most of us were hard pressed to remember who Ashley Judd was.  We may remember her from her movies like “Double Jeopardy” and the grief she reportedly gets from her mother, Naomi Judd, for her movie roles.  And now, she’s up in the stratosphere, appearing on 4 highly recognized and watched news programs in less than 4 days.  She is the new face of the feminist discussion.

I’ve been a big fan of Miss Representation ever since I discovered it.  And in fact, when it was here for a screening back in October, I bought 4 tickets myself, and filled the seats.  There were 7 of us in our little group that night and it was just amazing to see.  A theatre filled with people – the 7 in our group ranged in ages from 12 to 63 – men, and women, discussing Humanity and how to best serve our own interests.

All of this made me feel like we were getting somewhere.  Maybe – just maybe – the time has come for the tide to turn and the world to become a more accepting place.  But then, I’ve always been an optimist.

Yesterday there was a link in my newsfeed – which I am deliberately NOT sharing here – to a piece asking whether a fairly well respected woman comedian was “too ugly for Hollywood”.  Mother of God!  Where do I live that this is a headline in an international magazine?!?!?!  Detractors from this article are saying things like, “did anyone ask this about Jack Black?”  This makes the point that there are not just ugly, but also fat men in Hollywood, who are regularly given big-budget movies to carry.  And at no point that I can find has someone ever asked if a man were too ugly for the industry.  And c’mon: Steve Buscemi – while an excellent actor and highly deserving of his reputation – is not good looking.

And yet, when I reflect, I note something that I find too convenient to be a coincidence.  This article was published in the wake of Ashely Judd’s essay, her subsequent press tour discussing her position, and all of the articles that came in response to her moment in the media spotlight.  All of this was designed to change the conversation – to dismantle and rebuild the way we think about each other and women specifically.  Women were getting some screen time and were talking about breaking down the establishment.

Does it not seem too convenient to you as well that “Is Rachel Dratch Too Ugly for Hollywood?” is a headline in the aftermath of the shifting sands upon which the Media Machine stands?

I remember reading somewhere once that the only way to keep women from taking control of our culture and industry is to keep them divided. (Mommy Wars, anyone?)  The author was saying that the only way for men to stay as power-players in our societies is to keep us distracted and fighting with each other so that we did not turn our collective intellects and strengths toward accomplishing goals that we consider important.  You know, silly stuff like ending the cycle of poverty for our young and elderly, education, and dare I say it?  Even world peace.

Somedays I am dismayed about the state of the world.  I question whether bringing more people into this mess was the right decision, particularly now since I’m carrying a little girl.  And then I remember that I am one person, with a voice, who has influence over 2 soon-to-be men allowing me to shape and mold their perspectives.  I remember that the presence of a strong man, like MOMD and my presence too promises a strong foundation for self-esteem, compassion, and discourse that will set our daughter up for success; in fact it will serve all 3 of our kids well.  It is then that I take a deep breath, square my shoulders and soldier on.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Opinion, Politics, Soap Box

 

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