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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

On Changing Names and Feminism

I've had several folks surprised that I changed my last name. There's an undercurrent that no one who is a feminist would do such a thing.

I actually thought about this quite a bit. In California, you have the option to change to either partners' name, or make some hybrid of the two. I've never been especially attached to "Hill." For whatever reason, a shockingly high number of people ask me to spell it to them. My knee jerk reaction is, "Oh dear god, are you really that dense?" Sure, maybe it's force of habit and they say it to everyone. Maybe it's not hearing entirely and easier to justify than, "Sorry, I missed that." Maybe it's wondering if it's somehow spelled Hil or Khil or whathaveyou, but seriously, Hill is not hard to spell. Small mountain. Over there. Sigh.

So another option was some sort of hyphenate. Unfortunately, Hill-Woodbury sounds dorky and Woodbury-Hill sounds like a really cheap wine. This was right out. CamelCase sort of combinations like WoodHill or Hillbury or HillWood didn't bring any particular joy either, so back to the drawing board.

Ultimately, Erik is more attached to his last name than I am, so we went with his.

It's not a lack of feminism that led me to this. If you've met me, you know I'm kind of a take-charge woman who runs my own life, owns my own property, pursued my education, and would feel lost without her career. In some ways, it was my life that the feminists of the 20th century were fighting for, and I fully credit them for how good I've got it. However, another thing that they gave me was the ability to CHOOSE. And me, I'm just really good at having an opinion and making a choice about it. So, I'm Mrs. Woodbury. Mrs. Ammy Woodbury. Or Mrs. the Woodbury. Or we are The Woodburys. Or something like that.

I'm a tad less comfortable with Mrs. Erik Woodbury as my grandmother wrote on my recent Get Well card. I'm still very much Ammy. You'd have to do battle to take that from me. Still, it was awfully sweet getting that from my grandma, and I suspect it brought her a certain joy to write it. (Her grandkids haven't cooperated very well in the get married and have kids department.)

However, the process for changing your name is no picnic. It's going to take months. The Social Security card is done. Next up: DMV.


  • Woodbury-Hill sounds like an obscure London neighborhood

    By Blogger Unknown, at 7:33 PM  

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