Thursday, February 16, 2012

To Hyphen or Not - that is the question

"What’s in a name?". That phrase has been uttered by many, most often to mock a person. We all know there’s a lot to be said about names and it's the most basic level of one’s identity. That's why changing one’s name in marriage can be, for many women, a daunting thing.

More and more married women now are either keeping their surnames or are "hyphenated". They each have their own reasons. One of the most common reason is feminism. Some women claim it's their way of holding on to their individuality, to their identity. There's this one article I read about Lucy Stone. Here's a snippet of the article:

"Lucy Stone, a pioneer feminist and abolitionist, was the first American woman to keep her birth name at marriage in 1855. Shortly before her marriage, she reportedly wrote to her future husband, saying, "A wife should no more take her husband's name than he should hers. My name is my identity and must not be lost." Her husband supported this decision but others did not, and it caused scandal throughout Stone’s life. When women were given a limited right to vote in 1879, Stone was refused this right unless she used her husband’s name. She also found that her signature was not considered valid on legal documents, unless she signed as “Lucy Stone, married to Henry Blackwell.”  "

Ofcourse, things have changed now and the society are a lot more open about that kind of stuff. While that story about Lucy Stone is about keeping her maiden name it's as equally relevant to hyphenating.

I must admit that I have thought about hyphenating myself because of the cutesy factor. I mean, why wouldn't I, hyphenating is the trend nowadays and you're branded as an outcast if you deviate from it. But then again I have to consider the practical side of things and have tried to look at the pros and cons of hyphenating which I will be enumerating.

One. Truncation.
If I decided to be a HMW (hyphenated married woman) I have to prepare myself for truncation issues. Specially when dealing with insurance companies that are still using Mainframes and have very limited character length. Or if your name had to be printed in, for example, an insurance card which can only hold a certain number of characters. So if, for example my married name is Cristina Dimagiba-PurificaciontalesChorba it has a tendency to become Dimagiba-Puri. Ofcourse I'm exaggerating but my point is do I really want to see my husband's cute surname chopped off on one of my plastic cards (ie: insurance card, drivers license, credit card, etc)?

Two. Online Forms boo-boo.
Institutional systems, including mail, doctor’s offices, credit cards, and standardized forms tended to pose problems for people with hyphenated names. Some online forms do not have enough spaces for hyphenated names and doesn't quite make it intact because it does not allow the hyphen as a character.

Three.Hyphenated names are also reported to agitate or confuse many people.
Imagine trying to tell a customer support person on the phone your hyphenated name. You would end up having a surname of PurificacionDashDaltasheleshki instead of Purificacion-Daltasheleshki.Yes, as in the word "dash" or hyphen, whatever. I have an email address with an underscore and there were a few times that my email address became somethingUnderscoresomethingelse instead of something_somethingelse when I was trying to recite that to someone over the phone,for real. I don't want to have that same dilemma with my married name, thank you very much.

Four. Email address premature concatenation.
So my new name is now Marriana Purificacion-Daltasheleshki. Am I ready to cringe once I see my work email as Nope, I don't think so too.

Five. My kids and husband will have the same surnames, I won't.
So I will be Marriana Purificacion-Daltasheleshki, my husband Eduard Daltasheleshki and my kids Caitlyn Daltasheleshki and Marvin Daltasheleshki. *Sings* "Alin, alin, alin ang naiba, isipin kung alin ang naiba." I would feel like an outcast! Sure I can have my kids have my maiden name but honestly, I'd rather have my kids carry their dad's surname. Why, for less obvious motive: to hold men accountable for their offspring. Also, so that my kids won't be confused as "anak sa pagkadalaga" (kids outside marriage).

Sure, I can also just hyphenate my kids surname like mine but I'm not barbaric. Imagine my kid, standing in class on his/her first day of school and introducing him/herself. "Hi, my name is Caitlyn PurificacionDashDaltasheleshki". Poor kid. And what happens if my kid marries someone with hyphenated last names too? Now my kids will have four surnames. At some point those kind of naming practice can really become unsustainable.

I also don't want to confuse my kids why their mommy has a different surname from them.

Here's another thing. Having a different name with my kids might arouse suspicions, leading to airport frisks and other indignities, just to name a few. Imagine the inconvenience of being challenged at the airport to prove whether or not I am my kids' mother. Although, this kind of situation is more likely to happen if you keep your maiden name but still, there are some "uninformed" people out there who thinks they know better

I could go on and on but I thought these are some of the common but overlooked scenarios. So in conclusion *drum roll please*,

I have nothing against feminism but if it's not life threatening then it's not worth the aggravation. Besides, isn’t marriage supposed to be about partnership? Doesn’t love means loving everything about another person, including their name? I'm all for equal rights for men and women and I am only one in a long line of strong women wanting to feel equal in this symbolic way and I do understand the importance of keeping your identity even after marriage and all those stuff but I have to pick my fight, something had to give. After all, there are other ways I can prove I am my own person even after I change my name.

But hey, to each his own. Don't get me wrong, I still think hyphenating is a brave thing to do and is cute and is a growing trend, and your stalkers, i mean acquaintances, can easily find you because you have your maiden name still attached to your married name.....but in my humble opinion, the cuteness doesn't make up for some levels of stress attached to it.

So in the name of world peace and healthy blood pressure, I'll do what's best for me.

disclaimer: the names i used are fictitious names.

photo credits from:


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