Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You know you're being raised in a feminist community when...

Here's a recent conversation with Frances:

Frances: What's Aunt T's last name?

Me: Green

Frances: Isn't that Uncle Houston's last name?

Me: Yeah, honey. They have the same last name.

Frances: (sincerely curious) How did that happen?

Me: Well, some women change their name and take their husband's last name when they get married.

Frances: (completely incredulous) Really?

In the circle of adult women she interacts with regularly, there are no women who share their husbands' last names. In fact, not changing your name is such a regular occurence in our social circle that it's easy to forget that we are the ones who are doing something out of the ordinary. As Frances gets older and starts to interact more and more with people and institutions that don't have anything at all to do with us, we are reminded more and more that the decisions we have made in our own lives and in our parenting are very deliberate and, some times, quite at odds with those we love and thos we come into frequent contact with. The name change thing is minor in this regard, but something like not insisting that she preface a grown-up's name with "Miss" or "Mister" is a big deal, especially when we are back home or at church. I have become so adept at moving between worlds (I of course always address my elders at church as "Miss" or "Mister") that I forget that this is a skill I learned. I sometimes fear that we aren't doing a good job of teaching Frances that skill.

1 comment:

joan said...

When my daughter was little she asked, "When I get married can I take your last name?". She knew that many people changed their names when they got married and thought she could simply pick the one she wanted.