I didn’t change my name when I got married. I didn’t hyphenate either (with my Ukrainian last name, hyphenation would have been ridiculous). When I was younger, I never thought I would get married. When I got engaged, it didn’t occur to me to change my name. It’s my name; why would I change it? Here’s why I didn’t:
1) Choice. If there’s anything the feminist movement has accomplished in the past 40 years, it’s the freedom of choice for women. We can now choose to keep our names or choose to change our names. I chose to keep mine precisely because I had that choice. I am the first woman ever in my entire family history to have that choice. So I took it.
2) Career. Now, granted, my career in Canadian theatre is small potatoes. I’m not saying I’m a superstar or anything, but I’ve spent the past 12 years making a name for myself– gaining the trust and respect of my peers and fellow artists. There are some people out there that know my name. I’m not gonna mess with that.
3) Connection. My name is who I am and where I come from. It’s my history, my ancestors, my heritage, and my identity. Keeping my name connects me to previous generations, especially my Great Gido, Sylvester. He was brave enough to leave his home, his family, and his country. He arrived in Canada unable to speak, read, or write English (more than likely, also unable to read or write Ukrainian either). He was a homesteader. Without his courage, I would not be living the privileged life that I have now. I would not be a land owner. I would not be a Canadian. I would not be one of the first in my family to be University educated, to have a degree at the end of my name. I keep my name to honour him and those before him.
Now, I know that my last name is my father’s last name, and therefore, I’m just swapping one patriarchal lineage for another. But it’s my lineage, not my husband’s. And yes, the family history my name links me to is my father’s family history, not my mother’s. But you gotta start somewhere.