Maiden names

Anneboleyn2I was at work one night when a family came in. It was a mom, dad, grandma and a little girl. The girl was around 8 or 9 years old. She wanted to get a $100 sterling silver locket. When her parents told her that it was a little too expensive, she whined, moaned and complained. She insisted on getting the locket and getting a longer chain for it (at an additional cost). As I hate bratty kids, I was quite relieved when the family left.

But the next day, they were back. The parents had decided that their daughter needed such an expensive piece of jewelry as well as getting it engraved. Although the little girl was still insisting on getting a longer chain for it, her parents agreed to get it for her and engrave it. I handed the sale over to Sandy to take care of as I’m not familiar with engraving. The girl tried to decide what she wanted on her locket.

Sandy told her that she could get one initial or her entire 3-letter monogram. But her grandmother informed that that might not be a good idea. Because she would be getting married and changing her name to her husband’s one day and that monogram would no longer be accurate. The little girl didn’t understand the implications of what the woman was talking about, so her mother had to explain to her that once she changes her maiden name to her married name the locket, which she would most likely forget about in a few weeks, would have her old monogram on it and wouldn’t be relevant.

I had to roll my eyes. Not only at the idea that they were buying such an expensive piece of jewelry for a girl that was too young to¬†understand how monograms worked, but also because they were making some pretty broad assumptions about the child. First, they were assuming that she was straight, also that she was going to get married, and finally that she was going to change her name. The kid probably didn’t have double digits to her age and her parents were ready to outline how her life was going to end up.

It’s no mystery that most women change their last names, with just a handful hyphenating and even less keeping their maiden name. I’ve already talked before changing my last name, so we all know where I stand on this. But one thing that bothers me is the automatic assumption that women need to change their names. It’s not a choice for them, it’s a natural byproduct of getting married. And it’s not.

Options should be available for every woman. It shouldn’t be a natural conclusion that the woman has to take on this new identity as a married woman and not as an individual once a ring is on her finger. Anne Boleyn, former queen of England, was famous for wearing a necklace with a B on it, standing for her last name. It was an assertion that she was a person before she was Henry VIII’s wife and before she was queen. It was quite a statement to wear a statement of her maiden name in a time when women had little to no social standing on their own.

But the idea is clear; women are people before they get married and after. There should be no societal push for women to change their names once they get married. Every woman should make up her own mind about it and choose what feels right for her. No one should be telling you when you’re eight years old that you should forget your identity as a person because you’re one day going to be a wife.