Just so that you don’t spend the whole post pondering, the answer is: no, we haven’t decided what we’re going to do with our names yet.
I’ve found the whole process of getting married wonderful… and fascinating. The mere mention of the word seems to elicit an ingrained and impermeable reaction in people (myself included). What’s more, not only do most people seem unable to control that reaction, but they also seem oblivious to it. And the issue of the name appears to be king.
There are two things that I’ve found particularly interesting. The second most interesting of these is that whilst the question is significant enough to be asked again and again and again… and again, it seems that my actual name pales in significance by comparison. “It doesn’t matter Rach, why not just consider changing it”, “Why hold on to your name Rach, isn’t that just ego?”, “Rachel Montes? It’s pretty.” As if that was in some way relevant.
By writing the above I risk offending most of my closest friends… which leads me to the most interesting thing. The pressure to bow to tradition hasn’t come from “society”, but from within my closest social groups. Odd.
Incidentally, no one’s asked my husband if he’s going to change his name. Perhaps that’s the most interesting thing.
So my ponder? My ponder is: what’s in a name? A quick flick through the papers suggests that there’s quite a lot actually.
1. There are those who have their names changed for them.
Hands up if you remember John Darwin? Nope, didn’t think so… how about the Canoe Man? There we go.
The Tabs have affectionately renamed the man who was brutally stabbed to death and hacked into pieces: Spy In The Bag… seriously?
Susan Boyle post-break down and post-waxing became known as SuBo. It didn’t catch on, nor did she.
I’ve become quite accustomed to hearing about Baby P. The tragedy of his story never seems to be far from us. And then every once in a while I hear someone refer to him as Baby Peter and the reality of it punches me in the stomach again.
2. There are those who adopt additional names.
Having a pseudonym has become an accepted and unquestioned tradition, particularly within the arts. But when you do stop to question it, it really does beg a question or two. Of course there are some who build entire personas and lives around a pseudonym and that ability is their artistry; think Banksy.
And then there are others who, like the George Elliots and Currer Bells of this world, rely upon pseudonyms to break down barriers and find expression. I get that.
But on the whole, pseudonyms seem to be used by people who are either scared that their “created” vs “true” identities are incongruous, or, they’re embarrassed about one or the other… or both… and so hide behind a pseudonym. And on the whole, we accept this practice. Perhaps we shouldn’t? I’m not sure.
3. There are those who give up their names all together.
The jury’s still out on this one too. There’s something distinctly uncomfortable about the current use of anonymity. Again, there are clearly situations in which the right to anonymity is not only acceptable, but should be fiercely protected. But, if you give a statement to the press, or post online anonymously, i.e. you’re not willing to put your name to it, then why should anyone be willing to give validity to what you’re saying? Surely, by indiscriminately encouraging anonymity, all we’re encouraging is cowardice?
4. There are those who have become convinced of “the value” of their names.
Super injunction. I’m afraid I can’t say anymore.
There isn’t necessarily a consistent theme to the above, except that names clearly matter, otherwise why would we go through the hassle of changing or hiding them.
So all in all, I don’t know what’s in a name… but I do know that there’s something. I also know that I’m not going to be in a hurry to lose mine just yet. So maybe I’ll be Rachel Montes, or maybe he’ll be Mr Surtees, but either way, I do wish people would stop asking.
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