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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

To change or not to change your name--Internet style

I decided to keep my own last name when Father in Chief and I got married in 1998. It was a outward way to acknowledge that I truly am a modern feminist. I also had something to do with my journalism career. During the previous two years, I had built up a small reputation with my maiden name and I didn't want to mess with that.

But there was more to my decision.

Galante is just a kick-ass name. And Norton, well, is Norton. There aren't that many Galantes out there. And there are heaps and heaps of Nortons out there and almost as many Norton-related jokes. The Best Man at our wedding was very disappointed not to be able to run through some of them during his toast at our reception. There was even a DJ from my childhood known as "Snortin' Norton." And I certainly didn't want to be associated with him.

But there was a secret side to my decision as well.

When gainfully employed, most companies take the first letter of your first name and slap it onto your last name when they establish your company email address. With "Galante" as my surname, my email address translated into: "sgalante" at thestreet.com (where I was a reporter at the time). If I had chosen to take FIC's last name, my email address would have become "snorton" at thestreet.com. Who wants to be "Snorton"? No one respects "Snorton." No one wants to give scoops or exclusives to someone known as "Snorton." Snorton is the company clown. The butt of jokes. It was definitely not for me.

So basically, it all came down to the Internet. The Internet and likely unflattering email addresses played a BIG part in me keeping my maiden name. For Anne over at The Barely Attentive Mother, the Internet has played a role in her deciding to change her name. After being content with her maiden name for years, it all came down to domain name availability. She wrote:

The web address for my name ("AnneBlahblah.com") is not available. It's taken by a half-famous artist who carries my name...However, "AnneBloohbloohblooh.com" where Bloohbloohblooh=my husband's last name is available. So I'm going to change my name. What the social culture couldn't do--make me change my name--the web will.


Who knew that one of the side effects of the popularity of the Web would influence something so profound as what the world knows us as.

On a side note, there are many reasons to change your name. City Planner Friend once shared that the last name issue was a point of contention because they weren't sure how it would affect their two cats--whose last name would they take?

5 comments:

  1. Hmmm I have been pondering the name change thing - not planning on getting married but if I did, would I bother? Would I hyphenate? Would I feel pressured to change? What would our kids go by? It makes me nervous just thinking about it!

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  2. I took my husband's name because mine was really hard to spell. And his was easy.

    Pure laziness, on my part, that's all.

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  3. I took my husband's name because:

    #1: My maiden name is Smith.

    #2: He already owned bloohblooh.com where bloohblooh is our last name. Needless to say, any combination of *smith*.* is already taken.

    Actually, there's only a few of us with this last name in the entire country, so at any doctor or dentist or place where they have a record on file for me, I can just tell them the last name and it'll be either us or my parents-in-law listed.

    Plus I think it does make some things easier. We live in Seattle and I know a few women who have different last names from their children who have gotten the third degree when crossing the border into Canada. You'd think that these days separate last names of married couples would be a common enough occurrence, but apparently child-snatching is also a common enough occurrence.

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  4. I took my ex-husband's name, and the first thing I did upon our divorce was change it back.

    I did not like having his name (despite teh divorce!) I didn't like it that when people saw the name, they would ask "oh, are you related to so-and-so?" I just felt like ... I'm not related to ANY of the _____'s!! None!!

    Honestly, either was my ex. *That* was his step-father's name, which he was forced to adopt when he was 9.

    I also like that my (maiden/present) last name speaks to my family of origin.

    I do have a different name from my children now. After living in the SF Bay area for some time, that was not at all a stigmatized set-up. Now that I"m in more-traditional new england, it's slightly more of an issue ... but not really. There are enough hyphenated and otherwise-named children that I am unconcerned.

    Furthermore, I tend to thrive on bucking the system. My kids have had options to hyphenate or not - even to go by my name (without a legal or formal change), and one has chosen to hyphenate, and one has chosen to keep her dad's name.

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  5. I kept my own name for 7 years and have just now added on my husband's name. I describe my deliberations in a post on my blog -

    http://www.mowoman.com/2005/05/same_name_chang.html

    There are also loads of interesting comments from women debating the same thing.

    I have been enjoying your blog, glad I got to comment.

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