COMMENTARY: Why you should keep your last name once you’re married
I was born Sarah Crosbie. I will die Sarah Crosbie.
Like most girls, there was a time I wanted to ditch my name — but I wanted to change only my first name. From 12 to 16, I was obsessed with the idea that my father wanted to call me “Zoe” but my mom insisted on “Sarah.”
Zoe was much cooler.
My mom didn’t think two hard “e” names sounded good together: Zoeeeee Crosbieeeee.
When I was in Grade 8, in 1990, I came up with the perfect name if I ever had a daughter: Liberty Hannah Faith Zoe Samantha Jessica Stormi Kirsten Tory Crosbie.
(I created this name 28 years before everyone was talking about that other Stormy, the one who has the potential to bring down the White House.)
Thanks to supermodel and television host Chrissy Teigen — who loves to take on and take down social media trolls — the debate about whether women should take their partner’s last name is a hot topic again.
Teigen responded to a recent tweet that read, “I’d really like to hear the reasoning behind women who won’t take their husband’s last name.”
Teigen wrote, “my husband didn’t even take his last name?”
Teigen is married to R&B star John Legend — whose real name is John Stephens; she didn’t take “Legend” and she didn’t take “Stephens.”
I remember walking home from elementary school in the mid-1980s, wondering why my music teacher had changed her last name once she put a ring on her left finger. I decided I’d keep my last name when I got married.
Some argue that when a woman doesn’t take her husband’s (or wife’s) last name, it undermines the unity of a family.
My last name is Crosbie. My husband’s last name is Tripp. Our son’s last name is Crosbie Tripp.
My 11-year-old son has never voiced concern that he has a double-barrelled last name. Do you know what irks him in life? It irks him when his friends aren’t online to play Fortnite; when he gets less than perfect on a Grade 6 math test; when we run out of applesauce pouches.
These are the problems of an 11-year-old boy.
How he configures his family’s last names 20 years from now will be up to him.
Even though my husband and I have been married for a decade, I still get birthday and Christmas cards from members of our family addressed to Mrs. Tripp. I’m not Mrs. Tripp — that’s my husband’s late mother.
I recently went to see former first lady Michelle Obama.
She is Michelle Obama, not Michelle Robinson, but for her 90-minute talk, An Evening with Michelle Obama, she seemed like she could replace Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and help us all (even with her husband’s last name).
Michelle Obama was asked if she thought we’d ever see a female U.S. president, given the defeat of Democratic contender Hillary Clinton. She said we will — when women are ready for it.
“She wasn’t perfect and that’s what we struggled with. She wasn’t quite right … and look at the alternative.”
“The alternative” inspired women to push back against the misogyny that seemed to be strongly rearing its ugly head. I joined women across the world in the 2017 Women’s March that was held in hundreds of cities.
If we’re willing to push back over sexual abuse and pay inequality with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, why are women so hesitant to push back against taking their husbands’ last names?
Imagine if women had to take their husbands’ hairstyles (bald spots, mullets, comb-overs and all) once they married them. One, it sounds flipping ridiculous. Two, we’d never do it.
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But we’re happy to change our names, even though the practice is something we inherited from the English — dating back to the 11th century. The Norman Conquest introduced the idea of coverture — that when women marry, they become their husband’s property.
Here we are in 2018 still debating the name change. Except instead of 19th century suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton celebrating her right for women to have the same name “from cradle to grave,” Chrissy Teigen is tweeting back at @_MercyFul, with her 1,218 Twitter followers.
When it’s time to make your last-name decision, consider holding on to your name. Or, pull the equivalent of a vasectomy reversal and change your name back to your birth name.
Go on, upset the apple cart.
Just don’t run out of applesauce.
Sarah Crosbie is co-host of The Jeff & Sarah Show weekdays 5-10 a.m. on Q107 in Calgary.
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