Kristine Ronssdottir

Kristine Ronssdottir
All day I’ve been following this Ask MetaFilter thread about whether most women change or keep their names upon getting married. My own contribution is in there, but just in case any of you didn’t get the memo, I kept my name. We toyed with the idea of combining our names into some SuperSurname, but “Snook” and “Howard” don’t really form anything cool. Besides, I can’t imagine changing something so fundamental about my identity. It’s not a genealogy thing so much; there’s lots of Howard boys to carry on the line. It’s just that I’ve been Kristy Howard for so long that it would be too weird to be anything else. I’m willing to concede that my feelings might be different if my surname were difficult to pronounce or spell, but Howard is just about perfect: everybody recognizes it yet it isn’t as boring or ubiquitous as Smith or Jones. (Apologies to any offended Joneses.) Anyway, I was intrigued by this comment from the thread:

Data point: in Korea all women keep their family surnames. This seems paradoxical, given the low status of women in Korean society, but it’s all about bloodlines here. Paternal ones.

How about that? I was following ancient Korean tradition without even realizing it!


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  1. No offense taken. 🙂 I think you’re right to keep your last name, especially since it’s a surname that isn’t easy to make fun of (is it?). My friend Jen Dickey, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to get married and change her last name.

  2. You could have combined your two names to RonHoward! 😉

    I never thought I’d get used to my married name (I actually think I may have slightly miffed a brother-in-law when I insisted on us being introduced as brigita and J. vs. Mr. and Mrs. at our wedding reception), but it seems really, really weird to me now on the rare occasion I get mail in my maiden name.

    That being said, I totally get the keeping of the name. I might have had a harder time of giving up mine if he hadn’t been a mick. 😉

  3. I didn’t change mine, but it started out as an accident. It wasn’t marked on the form “Bride’s name after marriage”, it just said “Bride’s name”. I could have easily changed it after the fact, but I like my name. It didn’t help that I would have had to change a ton of paperwork too.

    Now that I think about it, it might have saved me some headaches at the airport if I did change it.

  4. What about childs? Which name you give to them?

  5. If I ever get married, I won’t change my name. I guess I just don’t see the point in it. It surprises me that most of my friends who got married did change their names, it seems so old-fashioned (no offense to anyone who did change theirs). Also, in the science field (which I’m in), you are judged by your publication record, which is catalogued by name, so most married female scientists kept their maiden names.
    Interesting about the Korean tradition- in Latin America, women don’t change their names, and kids get two last names, the father’s then the mother’s. When I was in Nicaragua, people were constantly asking me what my other last name was, and would be really confused by the fact that I didn’t have one.

  6. If you’d changed your name, Kris, every time you referred to the Snook, we wouldn’t know if you were talking about your husband or yourself.

    I don’t plan on changing my name if/when I get married. It’s a hassle to change, and my name is my name; it’s part of my identity and I like it. If I have kids, they’d probably just get their dad’s name.

    I’m continually surprised how most people I know, even those in liberal Seattle who are younger than I am, take their husband’s name. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, it just surprises me a little.

    The one comment on the MetaFilter thread that got me thinking, however, is the idea of the whole family sharing a name, like the Griswalds. What would it feel like every time there was a Griswald Family Vacation, or a Griswald Holiday Tradition or a Griswald Family Meeting, and mom was the only one without the name Griswald? So, I’ve decided, if I have a husband and kids and we don’t all share the same last name, we’ll just call the family after the family pet. It’s a Tiger/Rover/George Family Vacation, Tradition, etc. (Our cats do not have surnames, by the way.)

  7. My sister don’t change her name (her fathers name) and her child get her fathers name. Somehow father name is stil going strong in west culture. 😐
    I hope you understand what i mean.

  8. same with my sister. she kept her last name, but the kiddos get the father’s last name.

  9. Snook and Howard???! COME ON! What about “Snockered.” As in, totally drunk. All the time. Ha!

  10. Also, I’m about to move to Korea, and I’d have to say that women no longer have “low” status there. Even in the past decade they’ve made a lot of advances with regards to equal rights. Just sayin’.

  11. I dunno, Brit. Be prepared. The guy that made that comment is an American currently living over there.

    Thanks to everybody who chimed in. I too have been surprised at how many of my friends have switched. Just the other day I got an e-mail about my 10 year high school reunion from some chick whose name I totally didn’t recognize, and I had to ask her whether she’d changed her name. She was like, “Oops! Yeah. Maiden name is [whatever].” And for some reason I just found it annoying, like since she was such the Queen Bee in high school that I’m just supposed to automatically have known what her new name is.

    Kids is an interesting concept. The Snook’s sister and brother-in-law aren’t married, but they gave their son the father’s surname. I kinda like the idea (from that MetaFilter thread) of giving the girls the mother’s name and the boys the father’s name. Or else just using one as a middle name and one as the surname, depending on which sounds better with the first name. People over here aren’t as hung up on everybody in the family having the same name, so I don’t think it would be an issue.

  12. My wife kept her name. I really was indifferent about it at first (no problem with it at all, but not really any excitement about it either), but I have found that I am really glad she kept her name now.

    Our kid has my name. We toyed with a “girl gets your name, boy gets mine,” but that that would be unnecessarily confusing.

  13. During my married period, my wife kept her name, which was fine on this end (and made things easier when we went our separate ways.)

    The real trick are the kids’ names, of course.

  14. You know it’s funny, I always thought I’d keep my maiden name, but when we started talking about getting married I decided to change. I really don’t have a lot of contact with my paternal side, so I don’t feel much of a tie to the name. Not to mention ‘Barker’ is a lot easier to spell than ‘Allenspach’. But I do get quite a bit of guff from my hardcore feminist friends because I’m ‘trading in my identity’ and all. But that name came from a guy anyway. To each his/her own. (sorry, I didn’t mean to go on like that….)

    I really like ‘Snockered’ too good.

  15. I didn’t know you’d been married, Kevin…!

    It’s actually a little funny being a Howard right now in Australia. It’s kinda like being an American named “Bush.” I find myself often jokingly adding “No relation, of course!” when I give my name to people.

    The whole Western concept of the names being passed down the paternal line is weird, if you think about it, because theoretically you’re never sure of paternity. I remember reading in “The Queen of the Damned” (shut up!) about the vampire chick tracing her ancestors down the female lines, because those were the only ones she could be sure were actually related to her. Seems to me that handing names down from the mothers would be the best way of actually maintaining the whole “family” connection.

  16. Yeah for two years (mid-1999 to mid-2001)…evidence abounds in the archives of the first year or so of GitM. (FWIW, the end was mutual and relatively amicable, and the ex and I get along fine nowadays.)

  17. I’m the same way as Amy about my name.. My parents divorced when I was about 4, and I havent really seen my dad since. I wouldn’t even blink at changing my name because it means nothing to me. I’m not a “Johnson” because I’ve never really been around that family. If I had my mom’s maiden name I would feel differently, but I have no problem changing it when I get married.

  18. We didn’t get married and both use our own names. We gave our daughter his name, with mine as a second middle name but don’t mind what combination she chooses to use in the future.

    I used to get annoyed at being referred to as Mrs. HisName but decided to give up being annoyed when I realised he wasn’t at all bothered at being called Mr. MyName. I think there’s more to a family than a common name but we all seem to be using both of them anyway!

  19. In Spanish-speaking countries, women don’t change their names (and the children get two surnames: the father’s first, eg. Garcia, and then the mother’s, eg. Marquez). Frankly, as a Latin American woman, it has always seemed bizarre to me that in this country, where feminism was born, women would be so willing to give up such a big part of their identity when they get married.
    What’s in a name? A lot!

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