Changing My Name After Marriage Was A Feminist Statement

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Changing My Name After Marriage Was A Feminist Statement

Every feminist knows the inner struggle that occurs when they get engaged: Do I take my partner's last name, or keep my own? Taking a partner's last name is a tradition rooted darkly in a history where women were denied their rights and viewed as property. In biblical times, women were seen as no longer existing as themselves when they got married; they were viewed only in terms of their relation to their husband, as "the wife of--". With this in mind, it should be obvious why many modern women choose to keep their surnames after getting married. Some people do retain their surnames because of an inherent opposition to the oppressive traditions that cling to the practice of changing surnames upon marriage, and that's totally understandable. Personally, I chose to change my name for feminist and self-empowering reasons. How is that possible? 

Not only did I change my last name when I got married, I changed my first. This may seem strange, but my reasoning for changing my first name is the same as changing my last: I don't have a relationship with my biological family, the ones who named me at birth. I didn't feel right having the first name that my abusive biological mother gave me before abandoning me, and I didn't care to be tied to my family through my last name, either.

My name felt like a weight around my neck; the final link to my abusive and tumultuous childhood that I just couldn't shake.

Naming myself felt like finally losing oppressive dead weight, like cutting the last tie between my horrible past and my bright future. I chose a name- Minerva- that was both similar to my original first name and symbolic for me, being that Minerva is traditionally the goddess of Wisdom and I believe that, to quote JK Rowling, "Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure."

 Had I not gotten married, I'm convinced I still would've changed both of my names eventually. If I'd not had such a terrible emotional connection to my last name, however, would I have changed it? It's hard to say objectively, but I don't think so. The original thought behind the seemingly innocent tradition of taking on the man's last name is abhorrent to me, and I hate the idea of being "completed" by someone. I am my own person. I've fought through a lot of trials and tribulations to become this person and develop this identity and life for myself; I don't particularly care to have my identity being construed only in terms of my relationship to someone else (my husband).

Still, standing up and changing my name for me was a feminist act of personal revolution; a symbolic taking back of my identity. 

Changing my name meant a lot to me because it meant that I was no longer a part of my abusive biological family. I've created a beautiful, childfree family of my own with my husband and our rescue dogs. Changing my name symbolized that I didn't need my biological family anymore; that I've grown to be complete within myself and within the perfect family I'd made with my husband. Growing up, I never thought I'd change my last name. I used to view it as giving up part of oneself, as a sign of weakness; of being incomplete without a partner. 

That being said, I did change my last name to my husband's, because my negative feelings towards my original name trumped my inclination for complete and absolute autonomy.

I love my husband very much. I never believed in the cheesy idea of 'soulmates' until I met him. Our very first date ended up lasting 10 hours, and it felt like minutes had gone by. However, he doesn't 'complete' me; I'm complete within myself, which is why I'm able to be such a great and supportive partner to him. To quote Alanis Morissette, "I don't want to be your other half. I believe that one and one make two."  Having the same last name makes me feel like we're more of a unit than we were before, which both irks and comforts me. I have a strong Sagittarius independent streak that gnaws at me a bit, wishing I would've chosen to take on an entirely new, invented last name instead of my husband's. (Minerva Screwtape, in reference to a demon in The Screwtape Letters? Or maybe I'd become Minerva Chaucer, after my 12th great-grandfather, author of The Canterbury Tales?)  

Either way, the decision of whether or not to take on your partner's last name is an entirely personal one. There are so many emotional, professional, social and historical factors that can come into play when making this significant life decision. The bottom line is that it's up to you personally to decide whether or not to take on your partner's last name upon marriage; there are probably just as many reasons to do it as there are not to. 

Changing my name was a feminist statement because it symbolized owning my identity and cutting all ties with my abusive and absent biological family. It was an act of rebellion; of radical self-love and a refusal to remain connected in any way to those who'd hurt and neglected me.

Whatever your reasons for changing your name or for keeping it, if  you listen to your heart and do whatever sits right with you, you're sure to make the right decision!

All images in this article are of SpookyFatBabe and her husband, taken by Cayan Ashley Photography in Milwaukee, WI

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#BullyingIsAbuse

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#BullyingIsAbuse

Pin-Up’s Against Bullying firmly believe that together, through positive thoughts, words, actions and behaviours we can make a substantial impact against bullying!

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Permanent Birth Control: A Woman's Right To Choose?

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Permanent Birth Control: A Woman's Right To Choose?

A woman's right to choose if and when to procreate is so incredibly central to her well-being, life and autonomy, and any decisions she makes regarding her procreation need to be respected whether or not you personally happen to agree with them, period. Until healthcare practitioners start seeing this, women everywhere will go without permanent birth control procedures they deserve, have a right to, and sometimes even physically need to ensure their physical safety.

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How To Be Inclusive of Those With Disabilities

Image by Italian Artist Alexsandro Palombo

Image by Italian Artist Alexsandro Palombo

Within the Feminist and Body Positive Movements, those with disabilities are often marginalized and left feeling alienated or even ostracized. Even though this marginalization is largely unintended, it can still hurt. As someone with both a rare bone disease and autism, I know first-hand how much being underrepresented and overlooked can affect someone's self-image and feeling of personal value. Here are a few easy tips on how to be more inclusive of those with all kinds of disabilities:

 

  • Stop Hyperbolizing Your Emotions Using Medical Terminology 

As a disabled person, few things irk me more tremendously than people who insist on trivializing the suffering of those with legitimate mental illnesses by using the illnesses as terms to describe times when they're feeling things within the normal range of human emotions. 

 

"I'm so having a panic attack right now, guys."
"OMG, I couldn't get tickets to the show, I'm so depressed."
"I'm so OCD about keeping my floor clean!"

 

Phrases like these are not only hurtful and belittling, but they can be downright offensive to someone with a disability or mental condition. Cutting out actual medical terminology from the vernacular you use to describe feelings is an absolutely vital step to being more self-aware and inclusive towards those with disabilities. 

 

  • Don't Think About The Body in Binaries

Fat or thin. Black or white. Female or male. Broken or whole. Beautiful or ugly. The human body comes in infinite variation, yet we always seem to want to label it in very binary ways. This can be damaging to people not only with disabilities, but in general. This sort of thinking encourages people to try to fit neatly into socially-constructed categories that just don't satisfy everyone. Changing your way of thinking to include more shades of grey is beneficial to disabled people because it can change your beauty standards. Those with disabilities can often feel like they don't fit into society's definition of what it means to be "beautiful", and that whether or not they're considered beautiful somehow affects their intrinsic value as people. Reimagining societal beauty standards to be more inclusive of disabled people is something that we all have to make a conscious effort to make a priority, or else we risk further marginalizing those with disabilities.

 

  • Promote Intersectional Body Positivity and Feminism Always

 Intersectionalism is all about being inclusive. It's about recognizing your privilege within the feminist and body positive movements, thereby recognizing people without those privileges and giving validity to their unique struggles. There are some seriously underrepresented and marginalized groups within the feminist and body positive movements, one of them being those with disabilities. 

Share positive images across social media including photos or art of members of underrepresented groups, like those with disabilities. To someone with a disability, seeing artwork or imagery of others with disabilities can make them feel less alienated. My right wrist is fused; it has a 9" metal plate in it and will never bend again, and I have a huge scar where they had to crush my hand, wrist and arm bones to fuse them and insert the hardware. I can be very self-conscious about my immobile wrist and huge scar. Seeing other people with physical disabilities represented within body positive and feminist circles makes me feel better about mine; it makes me feel like people recognize the unique beauty to be found in those with disabilities, and like I'm not alone. 

Social media is a powerful tool that we can use in all kinds of ways to combat the marginalization of oppressed/underrepresented groups within feminist and body positive circles. Sharing positive imagery of those with disabilities can help disabled people to feel more included and less alienated. Restructuring your beauty standards to be more inclusive of non-binary bodies also helps, and using medical terminology relating to those with disabilities as descriptors for everyday feelings is a trend that needs to stop now. Being more inclusive of those with disabilities is essential to the health of the Body Positive Movement and feminism in general; there's beauty and validity in the voices of all those who are currently marginalized and repressed by these groups. We have a social obligation to do all we can to ensure that those voices are finally heard. 

 

Image by Italian Artist Alexsandro Palombo 

Image by Italian Artist Alexsandro Palombo 

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It's Time You Learned The Truth About Intersectional Feminism

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It's Time You Learned The Truth About Intersectional Feminism

"There should be no ideal woman, all women are beautiful – skinny legs, fat ass, big and little bellies, pimples, flabby skin, bald, big ears, small and big lips, stretch marks, sunken eyes, dark skin, pale skin, short, tall, wide and narrow – every bit of every woman deserves to be represented, not just one type." Intersectionality is explored in-depth in this article. It's a concept that's vital to the health of the feminist and body positive movements, and something we all have a social responsibility to be actively participating in. Thanks so much for this powerful read, Grace! 

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Feminist & Body Positive Artists' Instagram Accounts You Should Be Following

I'm a daily Instagram user. I absolutely love it, and I make sure to follow a lot of body-positive and feminist accounts because I love seeing so much positivity in my feed every day. Here are a few of my very favorite IG artists! Enjoy!

art by Ambivalently Yours via ambivalentlyyours.tumblr.com

art by Ambivalently Yours via ambivalentlyyours.tumblr.com

Ambivalently Yours

Instagram: @ambivalentlyyours

Ambivalently Yours has a unique, abstract, almost ethereal artistic style that is paired often with body positive or feminist phrases. Clever and poignant, the pieces are designed to make a statement and promote self-love, self-reflection and self-care.

via ambivalentlyyours.tumblr.com

via ambivalentlyyours.tumblr.com

print via joannathangiah.storenvy.com

print via joannathangiah.storenvy.com

Joanna Thangiah

Instagram: @joannathangiah

Joanna Thangiah is an Australia-based body-positive feminist who uses her artwork to challenge conventional beauty ideals and other sources of stigma and female oppression. Recently, she's been working on "hairy alien babe" pieces, which feature her iconic doe-eyed babes in natural states of being, body hair included. Joanna's art celebrates the diversity of the human body by featuring chubby multicultural babes with heart-shaped pimples, body hair,  and modern, fresh, funky hair colors and wardrobes.  I find her art personally inspiring, and I'm always excited to see what she comes out with next!

print via joannathangiah.storenvy.com  

print via joannathangiah.storenvy.com

 

Art by @teddyburger.art

Art by @teddyburger.art

Pedro M Flores Jr.

Instagram: @teddyburger.art

                    @dollar.store.whore

Teddyburger is a body-positive warrior based in TX whose posts on IG inspire me. His fantastic artwork lately has been more about aliens and comic book characters than body positivity, but his captions are very positive and moving. He says in the caption of a recent post, "Be enigmatic. Be energetic. Be exhilarating. Be a mermaid. Be an alien. Be the cool kid. Be the scholar. Be-YOU-tiful & most importantly, be yourself!" His IG feed is drenched in positivity, and it's so contagious. Love it!

pins by The Tiny Hobo

pins by The Tiny Hobo

Valerie T. Hobo

Instagram: @thetinyhobo

The Tiny Hobo offers out-of-this-world adorable, body positive designs. Her store has so many cute pins, prints and necklaces, many of which have feminist and body-positive themes. The Tiny Hobo makes wearing your body positivity/feminism on your sleeve fun, and I'm always excited to see what she comes out with next.

Image via The Tiny Hobo's etsy store

Image via The Tiny Hobo's etsy store

Image by Rachele Cateyes

Image by Rachele Cateyes

Rachele Cateyes

Instagram: @radfatvegan

Rachele Cateyes is a body positive artist who celebrates fat bodies in her art. She started the hashtag #glorifyingobesity as well as the Facebook page Glorifying Obesity and is all about being an unapologetic fat babe. She's been creating quite a lot of adorable, clever art and is currently working on a series featuring her plus size heroes, including Ashley Nell Tipton of Project Runway fame and body confidence activist Harnaam Kaur. Stay rad!

Image by Rachele Cateyes

Image by Rachele Cateyes

Happy Instagram'ing!



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Why My Feminism Includes Traditional Gender Roles, and Yours Should, Too

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Why My Feminism Includes Traditional Gender Roles, and Yours Should, Too

When you hear the word 'feminist', you might think of a modern, progressive, gender-fluid riot grrrl wearing a 'Cats Against Catcalls' t-shirt. You might picture Gloria Steinem or any number of other famous feminists and what they fought for. Maybe you even imagine the original suffragettes getting thrown in jail for fighting for our right to vote back when the world was much more black-and-white. Who you likely don't imagine when picturing what a feminist looks like is me: a stay-at-home housewife.

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