Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why I Respect My (Future) Husband More for Changing His Last Name

“Strong people stand up for themselves; stronger people stand up for others.”

Many people will be surprised by our decision; some may even be upset. When people choose to break away from tradition and follow a different path, this inherently comes with some stirring of the waters. However, we are not making this choice to hurt, offend, or put-off anyone; it is simply our choice.

For thousands of years, women have been seen as less than men, property of men, fit only for child-birthing and rearing, and caring for a home. Only in the last 60 or so years have women finally begun to be freed from this. In the past, when a woman was married, she was passed from the guardianship of her father to the guardianship of her husband. The idea of femme covert, or the idea that marriage is the transfer of both a woman's property and the women herself as property, doesn't sit well with either of us. In fact, the loss of a woman's last name was to signify that she had been symbolically “bought” by her new husband.

Now, I understand that most people do not think this way any more and that all couples who change only the woman's name are not misogynistic and chauvinistic. I also love my father and am proud to have been raised by him and my mother and to have carried his name for 22 years. However, it cannot be denied that this patriarchal system is where the name-changing tradition comes from, and I, for one, do not like it.

I have always been a bit of a rebel; conformity is not my thing – I find it boring and tiresome. I was raised without expectation that I should be anything I wished not to be. “Free-spirited” is what you might say I am. And while we are not making this choice just to be different or to make a statement, there is something to be said for questioning the way things are and have been. Traditions that do not mean anything to us are a waste of time, in my opinion.

Kyle and I will be married on the 24th of August, 2013. On that day, we will form a new family – the Korbines family (a portmanteau of our unmarried names, Korban & Hines). This is our decision which stems from many conversations about what we want our marriage to stand for (service to one another, partnership through life, acceptance & love). It is our choice, and we have made it with full knowledge & understanding of both the implications and the potential complications & inconveniences it may cause. We acknowledge that it is difficult for some people to understand, but it is our choice.

While many may disagree that a wife changing her last name is not oppression, I would ask of you this: Why does this idea seem so radical to you? Oppression is defined as: “being subject to unjust treatment or control”. So while this is definitely minor oppression, the fact that women do not have the opportunity to choose their last name and are questioned upon veering from the path of tradition seems to me to qualify as being subject to unjust control. The Word says that wives should respect their husbands. Well I have to tell you, this whole decision has made me respect mine even more. It is easy for people who are the object of oppression (or an oppressive tradition) to cry out and attempt to stand up for themselves; it is another thing altogether for one who is free from oppression to stand up for the oppressed. I could not do this alone – this is a decision that requires partnership. In fact, I think that it is even more difficult for Kyle to choose this path because while people are used to female feminists making statements like this, they are not used to male feminists doing much at all. Without him, taking this stand would be impossible. That is an admirable, sacrificial act, and my respect for him has grown.

So, (future) Mr. Korbines, I love you, I respect you, and I see this as a sign that our marriage is going to be a strong, life-giving partnership. Thank you for honoring me in this way and for standing up for me in a way that is not easy for you to do. I love you. You are awesome. 

**Photo taken by Karen & Michael Sharkey**

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