I had always known that I would not take my husband's name when I got married. I had decided that years ago, when I was beginning to fancy myself as a writer and a feminist, when the idea of changing the name I'd grown up with to become an impersonal "Mrs. Somebody" was repulsive.
I have remained a determined feminist, yet today, I wonder whether it makes sense to keep my father's name when I have been distancing myself from him. After all, how is using one's father's name less patriarchal than using one's husband's? It is perhaps more independent to take one's spouse's name: I chose my husband, but I did not choose a father. Would changing my name to Mrs theGuy'slastname help me let go of my past and embrace my wonderful present?
But before I think it through, I know I cannot do it. My marital status is nobody's business but my own. It does not change me: I am the same person I ever was. Why should I proclaim it to the world by changing my name?
I did not decide to keep this name because it was my father's, but because it was mine. I could take my husband's name, my mother's maiden name (that she herself forsook so many years ago), or any other name I fancy, and it would all seem fake.
Why is a name important except in that it identifies you? I do not need a name to bind me to my husband or my mother: why should I need it to divorce me from my past?
This name is mine. It has no importance except what I choose to attach to it. It has no baggage, no history, except what I choose to give it.