Goodbye Greer McDonald

01:58, Mar 27 2012

After I get married, I am going to legally change my name to that of my new husband.

That's right. I'm going to change my name. Goodbye Greer McDonald. 

The controversial topic of name changing is an area that has become increasingly fascinating to me as everyone feels the need to tell me why I should or shouldn't change my name.

I utterly respect that everyone's opinion on it is different and everyone has their reasons, but I thought I'd share mine with you.

 "You can't change your name because you are a journalist and your name is your brand."

Looking around the newsroom, married female journalists who have changed their by-lines (the name that appears under stories as a credit) are in the minority.

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When quizzed, most say it is easier to keep the same byline as that's what readers know them by. Some like the fact they have a "work" name and a "private" name.

Some just didn't change it at all and stayed with their maiden name for reasons including they didn't like their husband's surname, they couldn't be arsed with all the paperwork and associated cost of changing name or just "coz".

My name is my brand. I own greermcdonald.co.nz, my Twitter handle is @GreerMcDonald, and I've dominated Google search results with my various internet guff under the name Greer McDonald. (I feel sorry for the other Greer McDonald who was up there on search results once upon a time...)

But all of that doesn't worry me one bit.  

Thanks to my parents, they blessed me with a rather unique first name so I like to think of the next stage of my life as a bit of a rebranding.  

Just like a business, it takes planning and promotion - but eventually it becomes the new norm.

Victoria Adams. Remember her? Nah, neither does Victoria Beckham*.

"Changing your name is anti-feminist and you are bowing to the man."

As a colleague pointed out to me, what is so feminist about holding on to a surname which in more times than not, is your father's name?

It's refusing one man's name for another man's, in most cases.

To me, a key cornerstone of feminism is the freedom to make decisions without repercussions.

I am so lucky I live in a society where I can make these decisions as an informed, educated and free woman.

I am choosing to change my name without a gun to my head or fear of reprisal - except for maybe from those who refuse to accept my decision for their own reasons which I do not share. And how fair is that?

"What about your side of the family? Won't they be upset you're 'losing' the name they gave you, their family name?"

In a word, no. I do not and have not ever associated with my McDonald family except for my Dad, brother and nephews who carry the McDonald name. Long story but I have no attachment to my surname unlike many other people I know. And I do understand if 'carrying on' a family name is important where a family say, for example, only had girls or what-have-you.

My name change will mean the end of "Can I have fries with that?" jokes and the taunting of a certain children's nursery rhyme, though.

But then of course that will just be replaced with a whole new repertoire of name-plays because let's face it; all names can be made into something.

"Why don't you hyphenate?"

And sound like a new smoothie on sale at That Family Restaurant? No thanks.

Also, I quite like this piece about what happens when a hyphen marries a hyphen? 

So to re-cap: I am changing my name (and, therefore my brand) because I want to have the same name as my husband-to-be. 

I'm not "bowing" to tradition but I fully realise and accept what I am doing is historically a very traditional thing to do.

I'm not being forced to do so and I just like the thought of starting our new family together under a solitary name. It's pretty much that simple.

It's a conscious decision I'm making. It's not a political move, or a statement against people "rebelling" against the norm. It's just plain old me making a plain old decision. 

There are so many options nowadays though. I read this interesting article in which the writer chose a pretty unconventional way of dealing with the name issue - including when kiddles arrived on the scene. Then there's this great piece about a guy who changed his name to his wife's.

And I know of some couples, including same-sex, who just make up brand new surnames to 'label' their new family. I really like that.

So come the end of the year, Greer Berry will be created. I know, if you say it out loud it's a bit "Grr Brr", lots of E's and R's. It looks funny written down and it's a bit sing-songy (Julia Gulia anyone?). But at least it's not Greer Greer (Greer's more common as a surname). Also, according to Google, there aren't too many Greer Berrys sifting around. Not to mention it's a much healthier food group to be associated with. Brill. 

What are your thoughts and experiences on changing surnames?

Follow Greer on Twitter or Weddings on Facebook. You can email Greer here.

 

*Future husband does like to remind me that he's not a famous footballer, also. But still.