Monday, February 21, 2011

Naming rights

I never changed my name when I got married.

Some people think this brands me a rabid feminist, but, quite honestly, it was more a case of being too lazy to schlepp my marriage certificate around town changing all my official documents.

Plus, I didn't get married till I was 34, so I was pretty attached to my name by then. It's not a great name. I have to spell it out most times, and even then people get it wrong.

When I was younger, and dreaming about Mr Right, I fully intended to change my name. Mainly to get away from the spelling-out thing (I had images of marrying someone with a common, easy to pronounce and spell, name). But then I fell in love with the winemaker and,  frankly, his surname isn't much better than mine. Plus it is also the name of a well-known childrens' TV character here in Australia, which is just too much for me to "bear".

He didn't care one way or the other about whether I took his surname (he's ambivalent about most things at the best of times), so my maiden name stuck.
It has its benefits. When a cold-call telemarketer rings at home and asks to speak to "Mrs Hislastname", I can truthfully respond "No-one of that name lives here". I am also easily traceable by old friends (maybe a negative?) and people sometimes remember my name from my journo days, which can be helpful when pitching for work.

On the other hand, my honorific can't be Miss, as I am married, and it can't be Mrs, as my surname is not my married name. Therefore, I am stuck with Ms, which I loathe and detest. (Why do men get a single honorific that confers no martital status????). It almost makes it worthwhile to lose several (more) years of my life on inconsequential study with the aim of becoming a Dr (of letters, not medicine - bodily fluids gross me out).

It is also a bit of a pain now I am the only Mylastname in a family of Hislastnames, especially when it comes to daycare and school.

So, I have been contemplating changing my official name - but still using my maiden name for work.

Should I? Or is the "out" for the telemarketers worth all the trouble?


  1. That's a tough one Nic, but I think I would change to his surname, saying "I'm Mrs Hislastname with authority" appeals... I have been with my partner 17 years (in May) and still not married!! We have discussed this and I now wonder if I would adopt his surname, would I lose my identity. I think not. I always felt I'd use married name for family and general and keep maiden for business, that appeals and not too confusing...Now all I have to wonder is do I one take on the surname of a popular SA beer? :)

  2. Or you could do what I ended up doing -appending Hislastname to mine, albeit without a hyphen. Means my 'maiden' (aka birth) name is there for those who know me as that, and I can shorten it to Mrs Hislastname when that's easier. And I don't mind Ms. Yes, it's an artificial construct, but it reinforces that my marital status is none of their goddamned business.