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What’s in a name?


Every person’s history starts with their name. It’s our identifier and what we go by on a daily basis. Sometimes we even make judgments about each other based off of a name. Soon to be parents go back and forth attempting to decide what to call their child, while others go by tradition and give their children names that have been in their families for as long as they can remember.

I like my name. It’s unique (if you know the full version of it), and it is tied to my family’s history. If you are Lebanese, then you automatically know what religious and cultural background my family comes from. Even my first name is special to me because my parents named me after both of my grandmothers (who have different names).

It’s a huge reason I didn’t want to change my name when I got married (which I’ve talked endlessly about before and with anyone who knows me). I’m lucky to be born in a time when I can make that choice and it is not made for me. To me, it means I am able to hold onto a big part of my identity, which is not my husband’s last name.

So when I received a piece of mail this week that was addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Matthew [insert Matt’s last name here], I was livid. I knew the invitation was coming because Matt is a groomsman in his friend’s wedding this June. I just expected more respect out of the people sending it (I should note, I don’t blame the parents of the bride who sent it, but Matt’s friend for not providing them with the proper information).

Many tell me that it’s “traditional” and not to take it personally. But in my view, some traditions need to die and should have a while ago. This is one of them. I find it highly offensive at this point when even my first name is not put on an envelope. Maybe this how it was done in years past when women didn’t have much of a say in their own name and couldn’t even own house or land, or even were frowned upon for having a secretarial job, but this isn’t the case anymore (and really should never have been). At least not in the US.

I know I must be making a mountain out of a mole hill, but women here and even more so around the world are having to still climb to peaks of mountains to get an inch of what they want (i.e., reproductive rights, not being married off at 13, being able to get an education, etc.).

Being able to have my own name, my own individual identity – even if I am married – is something that is very important to me. It’s something I carry around with me everyday. Wiping it out because of “tradition” is unacceptable. My husband does not own me, he does not speak for me, and I will not go by his name.

Because I’m stubborn and feisty, I wrote the following on the RSVP:

Mr. Matthew [insert Matt’s last name] and Ms. Marie [insert my last name]

Hi, my name is Marie. What’s your’s?

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. My name has no real cultural or familial significance. I do have my dad’s middle name and he was hoping I would pass it on to Nathan. But we didn’t want Nate to have the initials NWA. Too much hip-hop connotation there and my dad didn’t really understand our concern. Oh well. Different generations.

    April 3, 2015
    • Marie #

      That is actually hilarious. I wish I could have been there while you explained the hip-hop connotation to your dad.

      April 3, 2015
  2. San #

    As I already told you on Twitter, you did the right thing responding the way you did. What bothered me (personally) about the invite even more is the very (!) outdated (in my opinion) of only addressing you within the mentioning of Matt’s name.

    You know, if the invitation had said Mr. and Mrs. Matthew and Marie [Matt’s last name]… I think I could overlook the fact that they didn’t acknowledge your own last name (because the majority of women do take on their husband’s name, even if it’s more and more common and acceptable to keep your own these days…) …but the fact that you were only mentioned as an ” attachment” to your husband’s full name really takes the cake IMHO.

    Good for you for standing up for yourself (and your name and heritage!).

    April 3, 2015
    • Marie #

      That’s exactly it! I wouldn’t mind if they used my first name, but to completely disregard it was absurd! I know it’s a bit petty, but it also comes around to how we’re shoved off as being second or third and not looked upon as an actual individual, human being as well. Granted it’s likely an after thought to many. But not to me.

      April 3, 2015

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