What’s in a name?
A whole lot if you ask me. Or maybe, not a lot is more accurate of an assessment. I had a conversation today with someone who is a self-professed feminist. She is highly intelligent, ivy league educated, raised in an affluent neighborhood by well off parents. She and I have had many conversations that I’ve leaned into only to decide to lean OUT of 10 minutes in. Today was no different. This is how it went :
Her: Did you hear Kim & Kanye had their baby?
Me: Yep and I read somewhere today that they named her Kaitlyn Donda West.
Her: She gave the baby his name?!
Me: Uh yes, he is her father.
Her: And? Kim has a name.
Me: (with a dumfounded face) But you do know she didn’t make the baby alone right? Oh is this because they aren’t married? Because I know they plan to get married so may as well.
Her: N o it has nothing to do with that. Kim has her own name so her baby should have her name. My kids will have my name.
Me: Well that’s no surprise since you got married last month and didn’t take your husband’s name, not even for the “I now present you Mr. & Mrs. part.
I knew I needed to stop there. But I didn’t. I proceeded to combine my love for the bible with my Game of Thrones obsession and said “You are supposed to leave one house and cling to the other once you get married.” You know what they say. Even the devil can quote scriptures. OK so I’m not a biblical scholar (as clearly the scripture says “cleave”) but my point was, you got married and you want to have no association with your husband. Even if I can get with that, meaning you don’t want to take your husband’s name, you also don’t want your child to have his name either?? Everyone is welcome to their opinion and by all means do what works for you. I know from reading her blogs and being in close quarters with her that she believes a woman loses all identity by giving up her name and that it is an antiquated patriarchal practice that she grew weary of watching her own mother marry, divorce, and remarry. And luckily she found a man who was okay with that. Lord knows I don’t have one and my father is clear that he cares nothing about me keeping his name because the man who marries me will have to PAY for me for the rest of my life so he deserves to give me his.
But it opened up a whole school of thought about last names and more importantly, the naming of children born out of wedlock. In the few hours since this conversation, I’ve interviewed several of my closest friends. Some replied the child should always get the father’s name, regardless of the parents’ relationship status. Others said it depended on where the relationship was going. One friend, who had a child while still in high school, told me she knew when she was pregnant what kind of man her child’s father was. He had even suggested she get an abortion. So she knew that child would have a labored (no pun intended) relationship with her father (which 16 years later, she does) so she did not give her his last name. In Kim Kardashian’s case, she is finally divorced (as of June 4th), and planning to marry her child’s father. So if she wants to give her his name, who really cares? I could be flip and say if Kanye is buying diapers the baby should have his name. But it’s not really about that. I guess my frustration came from the idea that Kim K, or any woman at all, ceases to be who she was because she takes on her husband’s name or gives her child her husband’s name. The person I had the conversation with was clear that her children would have HER name or perhaps some hyphenated version of she and her husband’s name. And to that I replied well I think children with hyphenated names are inherently confused. I should’ve stopped talking. I was speaking out of emotion. I was being flip. But I was honest.
If I can disappear into the series of letters that become my surname then did I really exist before I pledged to join my life to another? It is my belief that once I am married, I have pledged to another to be MORE of myself by growing, refining, polishing, becoming a better me. And he will inherently do the same. Becoming a better, stronger, more refined version of himself. There is no loss in losing a name or adding another’s name to yours. And there is certainly no loss in bestowing it upon a child of that union or relationship.