that’s not my name;

Or: it’s my marriage, and I’ll troll if I want to.

If there’s one thing that screams “adulting” more than taking out a mortgage…

…it’s sorting out a product transfer because the fixed term on that mortgage has ended. Which is something that I did last week, and which means I now pay less to live in a two-bedroom house than I would for a garden shed in London because society is fucked, but that’s a whole other rant.

Like many financial advisers, mine operates on a commission system. I buy a product; the lender or product provider pays my adviser a fee. Which means follow-up calls to check in on various aspects of my finances, just while they have me. And conversations like the following, which I reproduce here word for word:

“So, are you and Mr Stringer married yet?”
“Um, yes; we’ve been married for a while actually…”
“Oh, cool; so do you want me to update your details?”
“Excuse me?”
“Will I update your name on the system?”
“Ex-CUSE me?”

And so on, until the penny drops.

Weddings. They're not so bad

Sure, I could make it easy for him: laugh, and say oh, I didn’t change my name, but I don’t.

Because it’s a ridiculous default.

Because I’m not the one making commission from this call (and I’ll troll if I want to).

Because, either way, I’m expecting ten minutes of woke dude chat about how cool and feminist it is that I didn’t change my name, which will almost certainly include the ol’ and how did your husband feel about that chestnut (I don’t think we actually had a conversation about it? if I’m honest?? because name-changeage isn’t his default either, which is probably why I was into the idea of marrying him???).

Spoiler alert: not taking your partner’s name on marriage is not “cool and feminist”. It is women on banknotes in a world in which misogyny is an electable platform. It is, frankly, fucking trivia.

MOAR LYG:  cause it's getting winter and if you want any flowers you gotta get your seeds in;

But, as a semi-professional hypocrite with her own blog, I reserve the right to be irritated by this particular micro-annoyance. Particularly when it’s on Christmas card envelopes, because not bothering to establish a friend or family member’s actual name is the height of rudeness and you were raised better than that.

Tatty Devine Angry Feminist custom name necklace

I’ve been a Ms since I was 18 years old. It never made sense to me that men got one title whatever stage of their life they were at, while mine was supposedly dictated my marital status. “Miss”, once you reach a certain age, is of a parallel with the archaic “Master”, and it made me feel like a character in Little Women. As for “Mrs” – well, I lacked the necessary qualifications there.

[Sidebar: I would happily do away with titles and honourifics altogether: people are people are people; and enforced deference begets a whole industry of faceless arseholes abusing train companies on social media. But you try having that conversation with your bank manager.]

Look, you can choose to adopt the traditional naming conventions on marriage if you like. I like the romanticised ideal of a single family unit, united by a name, as much as anybody; particularly if said family unit includes children. Sure, it irritates me that the default – for heterosexual couples in particular – is to adopt the male partner’s name, and I always feel a little twinge of sorrow for the passing of an old identity when a name changes on Facebook. But plenty of normal people seem to find this shit pretty moving, and it’s not like it’s any of my business.

But then I think: that’s another tedious, administrative performance palmed off to women. I mean, it’s a pain in the ass just changing address details when you move house, and 90% of my bills are online. And then what if you get divorced, and have to go through it all again? Just speaking practically? Like, if it was me there’s no way I’d want to waste hours on life admin that I could be spending sobbing in my pyjamas to Netflix romantic comedies/plotting black revenge.

MOAR LYG:  i'm going to try defying speedlimits;

And then there’s what, for me, is the biggest reason, but also the shortest: S.E.O.

Lisa-Marie Ferla byline in The Scots MagazineI mean, how sexy is that byline.

Sure, search engine optimisation isn’t at the top of everybody’s wedding planner – although, I find it surprising that none of the wedding magazines or “offbeat” bridal books have made the point yet (hey, SWD: it’s been a while, call me?). Depending on your profession and its reliance on a personal brand (ugh), giving up the name means giving up the associated Gmail account, Twitter handle and byline. And in 2017, the chances of your new name not requiring a veritable telephone number of digits afterwards to make it unique must be infinitesimal.

I’ve been building a byline and a platform for more than half my life, which almost certainly means that there’s plenty of utter shit attached to it: but that shit is mine, and I ain’t giving it up for no man. And yes, I did Google my alter ego, had I opted for convention: just finding out that she already existed was enough for me to bin that idea.

In the grand scheme of things – and as a man who has gleefully admitted to sexual assault prepares this week to take on one of the highest, most powerful offices in the world – I don’t kid myself that my choices are going to change the world, no matter how unusual they still sadly are. But at least I get to make the choice, so I guess that’s pretty cool. After all, as recently as the 1970s I would probably have needed my dad’s permission just to get that mortgage so suck it, patriarchy, I do what I want.

  • Elanor

    Love this! I’m not changing my name either, but my family can’t seem to grasp it, haha! 🙂

    • God, same! You’d think they’d find it easy given they’ve been calling you the same thing all your life but NOPE. x

  • I have never legally changed my name. But to make it easier on family they use my married name and online it’s hyphenated.

  • Jenny

    I’m not sure if I would ever change my name if I was to get married. For one my blog would no longer make sense unless I married someone who’s name ends with a C and dating a Thomson puts that pretty much out of the question. But aside from that, I totally agree with you. Why is it that women who are “blessed” with three different titles while a man sits comfortably on his little ‘mr’ high horse? I’ve never really thought about it before now but it is ridiculous! Don’t know where I was going with this comment other than to say – I agree.

    Jenny | http://www.jacandthebox.co.uk

    • JAT AND THE BOX, HAHA.

      Which is entirely my point: you’ve worked so hard to create a brand – which isn’t even counting the great work you’re going to go on to do as a journalist – so why should you be expected to give that up for the sake of some antiquated tradition?? It gives me the rage!

      x

      • Jenny

        Can you imagine? My mum legit named me because she though JAC was cool – I couldn’t just give up on that!

        I don’t understand the whole wedding thing though. So much of it is soooo old fashioned. Why do I need to wear white? Why should it be in a church? Why do I need to have bridesmaids? Why can’t it just be banging party where we celebrate love? I want to get married but I don’t agree at all with the traditions that you are expected to follow. Although I’ll probs wear a white dress knowing me!

        • Tellllll me about it, haha. As you can see from the wedding picture above I sacked pretty much all of the traditions – I’d have felt ridiculous in a white dress. I did feel a bit bad telling my dad that he wouldn’t be walking me down any aisles or giving me away, but it didn’t seem to bother him in the end. Or at least, he didn’t tell me if it did.

          Soooooo… got yr back on that one, if you do choose to get married x

  • I *love* this! Also, you might be amused to hear you’re not the only troll. I have a friend who has changed her car insurance provider three times because they keep sending letters addressed to “Dr and Mrs Joe Bxxxxx.” She got her doctorate before he got his – she took his name but she’s not standing for that nonsense.

    • Damn straight. The amount of work that goes into a doctorate – that’s bloody insulting!

      Which reminds me of the war I had with my mortgage insurance provider a couple of years ago – their letters came out with Stringer listed first, which filled me with rage since his name isn’t actually on the mortgage! Apparently their systems were set up that way, and as I was the first person to complain (which I don’t really believe, though I was maybe the loudest) I was the one who forced them to get a programmer in to fix it hahahaha.

      x

  • My boyfriend asked the other day if I’d take his name when we got married – the answer was a firm “No” as I don’t really see the point. We discussed it at length actually, and we agreed that our children would have a double-barrel surname, which I thought was quite nice.

    • It’s great that you’ve got it all sorted out up front too, so there won’t be any misunderstandings later. They’re such good discussions to have x

  • Amanda-Jaied Wathern

    Fun story: I played my now-husband in a best of three round of darts to determine who took whose name…I lost! But I like his name, and I would probably have felt bad making him change his when his parents are both dead and his name is a connection to that family he had before he joined mine. I still use my maiden name for all my blog stuff because assed with changing it, and instead of changing everything in one go I just do it if and when something is up for renewal (if I can be bothered) like we’ve been married for two and a half years and I’ve just got round to updating my passport. It’s just doesn’t mean enough to me to care too much what name it says on my cards tbh.

    • Ha! That is an excellent story! My cousin has just informed me on Facebook that she’s going to continue to address my cards however she wants now she knows it winds me up… x

      • Amanda-Jaied Wathern

        Haha family are always the ones that wind us up the most! I started using Ms at 17 for much the same reason as yourself, but as retaliation for me “having ideas above my station” however that was relevant…my brother in law decided I’d be Little Miss every time they sent me anything…it soon stopped after I addressed (and posted) his birthday card to Limp Dick Gordon 😉

  • It is a faff if you get divorced, in fact I have to change my name by deedpoll if I want my old name before the divorce is finalised which kind of makes me want to come up with a new surname for myself instead. Something badass. If I have to get my passport/bank details/ work log ins/ and so many more things changed, why not make it something mega-cool? It’s a shame though as I really liked my Mac-surname but I don’t feel like it fully belongs anymore – but then neither does my old one?! Arg. I’m making this decision when I am divorced. Roll on the divorce

    • Write down a whole bunch of alternatives, and we’ll pull them out of a hat at your divorce party. Those don’t involve penis straws, I assume?? x

      • That sounds fun – I will even include the sillier suggestions like ‘Sparkles’. I just wish he’d moved out sooner. Partly because living with him when broken up was hell, partly because when we can get divorced with a simplified divorce is based on when we stopped living together.

        • Which is a whole other layer of just, uggggghhhhh – you’re adults, you know what you’re doing. So frustrating. x

          • BTW I’m even up for penis straws, I had a VERY tame hen do, so I think this one should be raucous as.

          • Ha! I was asking for MY benefit, I have penisphobia 😉 x

          • I’d expect any drink from them to be salty so no danger – but I want noise and fun and ridiculousness! 🙂

          • That I can definitely guarantee! x

    • Nic

      My friend was widowed at a very early stage of her marriage, having taken on his surname when they wed. She decided, after a couple of years, that she didn’t want to keep his surname for a longer time after he died that the time they had been together but didn’t want to go back to her maiden so she pondered over it and chose the coolest surname for herself 🙂

  • rachelle renée

    I hate receiving so much stuff that says ‘Mrs. Rachelle’. I already decided that ‘Rachelle Renee’ will be the name for anything internet or credit related. I’ll probably take his name and if I’m still with a day job I’ll use it there. I’d say that we could hyphenate our names, but enough years in higher ed taught me that’s the worst thing you can do to a child as they grow up. Our government likes to add extra crap to people having hyphenated names, especially 18 year olds.

    • You should be Mrs Rachelle, and he can be Mrs Renee!

      Speaking of hyphens though, as a lady with a hyphenated first name it always surprises and annoys me how many retailer websites are set up not to accept them as part of people’s names. I usually boycott because I am petty.

      x

      • rachelle renée

        I cringed whenever I saw a student’s name with a hyphen.

        Be petty! I don’t reply to people who call me ‘Rachel’ when I certainly know their voice and I know how many times they’ve been corrected with my name.

  • This is awesome all the way through! I just found your blog through a comment you left on robowecop.com and I’m so glad I did. You mentioned that you blog about feminism and I couldn’t resist 😉

    I didn’t change my name when I got married either. I was torn about it, because I like my husband’s last name and I wouldn’t have minded having it, but what ultimately swung me back over to the side of keeping mine was just the hassle it would have been to get it changed. We are an international couple (I’m American, he’s German) and got married in Denmark, so the bureaucratic shit involved in a name change would have been a nightmare. I’m actually glad about that, though, because now, a few months out, I’m REALLY glad that I stuck to my feminist principles. It is super frustrating when people just assume that I took his name, though. I just have to get better at explicitly writing out my last name when there might be confusion and correcting people when they get it wrong.

    Danielle | solongusa.blogspot.com

    • I’m so glad you stopped by Danielle, and that you liked the post! Your international love story sounds complicated and beautiful, and I’m heading over to your blog now to read more about it <3

      It's the assumption that really gets to me. People make their choice for all sorts of reasons, so why is mine deemed less valid? Somebody asked on Facebook: but how do I know you're not just using your old name here, and your married name everywhere else? Um, who cares; surely the starting point should be the name you've seen me use.

      x

  • Nic

    I totally get where you are coming from, and if I ever get married it will be something I will spend some time thinking about.

    Going completely counter to your experiences, I know someone who decided they wouldn’t refer to a lass by her married name (she had chosen to take her husband’s surname when she was recently married) because they considered it archaic – so they were basically disrespecting her choice.

    • That’s SO RUDE, and I know you know it goes without saying that it’s completely the opposite of what I’m saying here. x

  • This post gave me food for thought. We got married about 6 months in New York City and on the paperwork, I spotted a box saying ‘Old Name’ and ‘New Name’. I HAD intended on changing mine anyhow but I felt uneasy as the blatant assumtion there. I use my husbands surname on the blog and social but have kept my maiden name on my passport, bank account, medical documents etc. The longer I leave it, the less I care about changing it. I love my husbands surname (Valentine) but don’t know how I feel about ‘giving up’ on the name I had for 33 years before 2016.

  • PS If that image above is of your wedding day, I have serious wedding dress envy! It’s beautiful xx

    • Thank you my love! £75 from Dollydagger, heh. I have every intention of wearing it out again, if it ever fits..!

      For what it’s worth, I think the name you use on the blog suits it perfectly – plus, it probably makes a lot of sense to have what is almost an “alternative” identity away from your online one. It’s the assumption, as you say, that annoys me: “old name” and “new name” feels like it minimises the significance of what is effectively letting go of a part of your identity. I feel like I could talk about this stuff for ages, and I love getting everybody’s perspectives on the question x