I advocate feminism; I will also take my future husband’s last name. So?
Cross-posted at Small Strokes Fell Big Oaks blog for the series on feminism and relationships. If you’d like to submit a guest post for this series at Small Strokes, see the guidelines here and submit your post to samsanator(at)gmail(dot)com.
I have issues with feminism. Wait, let me re-phrase that: I have issues with feminists telling me what feminism is or isn’t. What feminism should or shouldn’t be. Telling me that I’m not a feminist or I am in fact a feminist because of certain actions and life choices that I make. Thankfully it was bell hooks who proclaimed “I advocate feminism” so that I don’t need to prescribe to feminist rules.
Sometimes my personal life does not run parallel to feminism. Not against it; it’s just a different entity. The relationship with my significant other is one of them, for many reasons.
First off: we have a very equal relationship which would be so-called “feminist.” In the past, I have been in relationships where one person is needier than the other (by means of more attention). I have been in relationships where I have been put on the pedestal and almost fawned over. But no, my significant other and I are different. We both respect each other deeply. We are considerate of each others’ feelings. We adore each other equally. We listen and communicate well.
On the flip side, though, our relationship is very traditional. He will be a medical doctor and I’ll be a teacher after we both finish school. That means he’s going to make more money, while also working long hours, and I’ll have a somewhat regular 9am-5pm job, not contributing as much to the family income, and taking care of the kids. This is a nuclear family-esque set-up, but that’s how we want it. We will do everything we can for each other to pursue our own individual careers while also having a family. If it’s traditional, then so be it.
This has actually somewhat played out in our current situation (no, I do not have children) because he has started his third year in medical school on a surgery rotation. That means he gets up at 4am to go to the hospital and comes back home anytime between 7pm-8pm. Not counting every fourth night where he is on call at the hospital all night. He also has to study in the very little free time he has. Compared to my own schedule, I work Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm.
Therefore, I’m the one doing the household duties around the house–cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry. Don’t get me wrong–my significant other is probably a better cook than I am (though I’m the better baker), and in [most situations] is cleaner than I am. But he just doesn’t have time for those household chores. So I don’t do those chores for him; I do it for us.
Another thing: we recently got engaged. He gave me a gorgeous ring which I love. Yes I know what the feminist implications of wearing an engagement ring. For me, though, I am reminded of our love and relationship every time I look at the ring.
We will also get married and probably have a big wedding.
“Oh no!” some of you feminists might be thinking, “She’s a feminist and going to get married?!?!”
I’m still not sure about the white dress (because after all, my skin is beyond pale and white just doesn’t suit me), but hey, Feministing founder, Jessica Valenti, wore a “gray” dress (come on, that dress looks white, it might as well be white!). I will probably take his last name so that our family will all have the same last name. Hyphenation is out of the question; I don’t think there would be space on my tax form for the last name “Heroy-Fillingham.” My last name is my father’s, so what difference will it make if I take my husband’s or my father’s? Either way, if you’re a woman and facing this name-change decision, you’re screwed. I haven’t really thought about anything else in regards to the wedding ceremony, but it shouldn’t matter to you.
But I’m writing this out there for those women who advocate feminism but have fought for a long time how to balance personal life with political life. You can be a feminist and be in a relationship, as I’ve shown by example above. I know that the “personal is political” but those choices that I’ve made in my relationship are my own. Because what I choose to do doesn’t make me a feminist or not; my choices are my choices and only I can be the judge of them.