Sunday, February 27, 2005

More classic Mae...

Here's an oldie but a goodie from my days as editor in college...
So what if I want to change my name?

A view on maiden names, feminism and Dr. Seuss rhyming games

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2001
I'm getting married next April. Of course, ever since I got engaged in December, people have been bombarding me with questions.
Some people shyly ask, "So, who's going to be your bridesmaids?" You just know they're waiting to hear their names.
Others ask for specifics, like our story, or the date, or where we'll live or what city the wedding will be in.
But the question I hear the most is, "Are you going to keep your name?"And whenever I answer, "No," many people are shocked. Sometimes even appalled.
I guess most of this shock stems from my feminist nature. I hate people who pose for girlie magazines, I refuse to wear pink or makeup, I hate the idea of being a stay-at-home-mom, I have a heavy emphasis on having a career and God help my future husband if he decides that I'm responsible for all of the menial housework.
Three years ago, I wrote a column about how pathetic it was that the University didn't celebrate Women's History Month. I even took English V: Women in the Humanities my senior year of high school.
So when I say what, to some, is an anti-feminist answer, people are shocked.
I don't know why this is so. I've always had problems with my name. My parents thought it would be nice to give me a French first name to go with my French last name.They didn't take into account the fact that it would make me sound like a Dr. Seuss character.
(Say it with me: A-May *******. Yeah, that's right, it's NOT "Amy." Thought you were so smart, huh?)
It's been my dream to not have a rhyming name, one that sends friends spiraling into contests to see who can make up the most phrases of rhymes with my name.
One friend, who now lives in Minnesota, would frequently speak in a hick accent when doing so."Haah. Ah'm Aimée *******. How are you today? I'm in a play. Don't use butter, use Parkay. What do you say? Horses eat hay. I wear Mary Kay and sell Amway. I drive a coupé. Going my way? My kids are Jorgé, Jay and Renée. "'
You get the point.
I feel some guilt at my hostility towards my name. My parents gave it to me. It's the one thing I'll always have from them. I should honor it.
But it's so difficult when you have to tell people, "No, it's Aimée. Like the first letter of the alphabet and the fifth month of the year." And when you've spent your whole life defending yourself or politely smiling when people laugh at the rhyme factor.
Do I see this as an anti-feminist move? Not really. Many people have suggested hyphenating my name. But that's such a hassle, and if I ever have kids, it will confuse them. And, no offense to those who do so, I find hyphenated names to be a bit pretentious.
Yes, it will be a huge hassle to change it. I'm prepared for that.
But on the plus side, I'll get a new driver's license picture, which sounds like a small price to pay. And I'll get to have fun presenting myself as a new person.
True, it will take some getting used to. I'm sure I will waste many checks when I sign the wrong name. But this is my decision.
And people should respect that.
After all, the heart of feminism lies in earning respect.

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