What’s In a Name? — Part 3

The first time my wife was married, she kept her “maiden” name. It confused her father: he was concerned that his daughter would never be “Mrs. So and So.” When she and I got married nearly 40 years ago, she again kept her “maiden” name. Upon learning that Katie remained “Moran”, my mother commented, “that is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.”

A recent Huffington Post article explained that it wasn’t too long ago that women were required to take their husband’s last name:

“Women were forbade to keep their last names a short handful of decades ago, under the premise that the wedded couple were viewed as “one person” by the law. That one person was the husband, whose identity superseded the wife’s. He was the sole person who could vote, hold property, go to law, etc. In fact, it was only in 1972 that every United State legally allowed a woman to use her maiden name as she pleased.”

Curiously, even if a woman chooses not to adopt her husband’s name upon marriage, she almost certainly carries her father’s name…at least in our culture. As we were considering starting our family, Katie and I felt that there should be a way to free women of this remnant of androcentric tradition. Our solution was that we would give my last name to any male offspring, and Katie’s last name to any female offspring.

Our first born was a boy, so Daniel became a Blatt. Katie worried that we would not pass the Moran name to the next generation, as Doug and Steve, the children from my first marriage, were also boys. What are the odds that the next would be a girl? But, almost three years later, we welcomed Elizabeth Rose Moran to our family.

Our odd naming convention has not caused any problems, although a few elementary school teachers were caught by surprise to see that Liza Moran’s parents were the same people as Danny Blatt’s parents. They probably assumed that we were a blended family until we explained it all. I think the different names actually insulated Liza from any teachers’ expectations from having had Danny in their classes a couple of years earlier.

While most people we have discussed this with have generally thought it was an interesting approach, to my knowledge, nobody we know has used the same naming principle for their own children. Katie and I were taken by surprise a few evenings ago when a character on a TV drama described the same naming convention to explain why he and his daughter had different last names. So, apparently, we aren’t as odd as we originally thought.

Will this ever become a trend? So far, Danny’s wife is still a Klekner, and Liza is still a Moran. It remains to be seen how they will choose to name their own daughters. However it turns out, it is reassuring to know that what’s in a name is more open to choice now than it was for previous generations.


About Jesse

My name is Jesse Blatt. My first name is actually “Ramon,” but I haven’t used that name, except for official purposes, since 1970. I have a high school diploma and a PhD…nothing in between. I’ll get around to explaining that in a post sometime. From time to time I will be posting true stories from my past, though not in any special order. I’ve been fortunate to have had a dozen or so different careers, most of them very satisfying, some fairly frustrating, and none that I wish had never happened. In my many former lives, I have been a mail clerk, radio and TV engineer, radio announcer, electronics engineer, college instructor, psychologist, research consultant, Federal employee, supervisor of research professionals, computer programmer, web designer, instructional designer, construction site handyman, and carpenter, not necessarily in that order.
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1 Response to What’s In a Name? — Part 3

  1. janhogle says:

    I’m also glad that there seems to be more acceptance for choices about name changes. One friend of mine, who married 6 years ago, took her husband’s last name as her new middle name; he took her last name as his new middle name. So, both of them had to go to the trouble of changing their legal names. Their daughter has a hyphenated name. I kept my birth name in 1979 when Bruce and I married. We named both our children with his last name; I didn’t care one way or another. Each child has one of their middle names from my family. But the truth is, none of us women, going back to the beginning of time, has our own name. All women in Western cultures have some man’s name. Usually. Usually their father’s name. It makes genealogy more difficult. But at least going forward, perhaps in centuries to come, tracing ancestors will be easier than it is right now.


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