keeping your name

Bharathi Jagadeesh bjag at cog.nimh.nih.gov
Fri Apr 5 17:12:06 EST 1996



: >Dianna L. Bourke writes:

: >I did not change my name when I got married for a
: >variety of reasons, but the most important one was, it's not MY NAME! Why
: >in the world should I change MY name? Why dosen't he change HIS? Anyway,
: >the whole thing just harks back to ownership of a wife, etc. and I just
: >don't like the whole idea. 

: Jen Coleman writes:

: I think your comment that its "MY name" is sort of interesting....
: technically if you are a woman in this country you really don't
: have YOUR own name as a last name unless you changed
: your name to something you made up...Either you have your
: father's name or your husband's name...

This is a sentiment that I _really_ don't understand. What was MY NAME,
exactly, until I got married? Maybe my definition is a bit strange 8),
but I'd always thought that the name I put on all the little forms was
MINE! Yes, my last name does come from my father. Incidentally, because
of differences in Indian/American naming conventions, my last name is
actually my father's first name, although he uses it as a last name in
this country, as well. But it is also the name that I used until I
got married, and the name that's on my high school diplma, the name
on the awards I won, the name on my college degree, the name that I
hope that I made a few impressions with. I got married in graduate school,
but MY NAME is still the one on my Ph.D., the one on my publication list.
It didn't matter to me at all whose name it was before it was MINE;
all that mattered was that it was MY NAME. 

I also don't understand the sentiment of one's relationship with one's
_father_ alone influencing the decision -- isn't your last name shared
by your mother, your brothers, and your sisters? Should one also feel
that all of them are "domineering" before chosing to change one's name?

And, to bring up a subject that no one likes to think about when they're
getting married, there are many marriages that do not last forever.
And what does one do when the marriage ends? keep the married name?
revert to the "domineering" father's name? what if you're widowed and
remarry? And how do the rest of us keep your pubication list straight
when you've been married, divorced, widowed, and remarried a couple
of times?

OK, I think I've made my opinions known 8), but do believe that
everyone ultimatly has to make their own decision (in spite of
_my_ disapproval8). I generally would not voice an opinion on
this to someone who changed their name -- unless they ask.
One of my sisters did make the mistake of asking, however,
and heard quite an earful (my other sister didn't change her name). 

I also have one other personal reason for _not_ changing my name. I
am Indian, my husband is not, and his own ethnicity is obvious from
his name. To change my name would have been to hide the fact that I
am Indian.

--
Bharathi Jagadeesh/bjag at ln.nimh.nih.gov

Lab of Neuropsychology
NIMH
Building 49, Room 1b80
Bethesda, Maryland 20892

(312) 496-5625 x270




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