Why I’m changing my last name when I get married and why it’s a Feminist choice.

Feminism is hard. Every feminist will tell there is something different you need to do to be a proper feminist. Anything from never wearing pink to not cooking, not staying at home with the kids, or dressing ‘femme’. The institution of marriage is steeped in patriarchal history. Obviously, women used to be considered to be property of men, and being part of their household were of course expected to take their husband’s last name, and bear them many children. In some countries, sadly, this idea is still perpetuated. I realize as a cis-gendered heterosexual white woman born to the middle class in America, I have been given more privilege than most of the people in the world. The only way I could have more privilege is to be born a man under those same circumstances, and possibly with more money. Brad and I had a long conversation about whether we would get married rather than having a domestic partnership. Fortunately for me, Brad is also a feminist, and so the decision about whether or not I would change my last name is up to me. I ended up deciding to change my last name, because I legitimately like his better. (We can have a discussion about those reasons later, but really it doesn’t matter in the long run.) In any case, I can say with complete confidence that I am doing it because I want to, and not because I feel any pressure from society, my family or friends to change it. What really annoys me is when people say that it is an anti-feminist choice to change my name. Changing my name is one aspect of who I am as a person and the choices I make. While the tradition is steeped in patriarchal history, it doesn’t apply to our society today. Brad isn’t paying my parents for me, I fully intend to wear a white dress while not a virgin, and our wedding will be preformed outside by someone who is qualified by the state, but it not a minister.

The problem comes down to when feminists proscribe how other feminists should behave in order to be properly feminist. This was the big issue with the first wave of feminism, when white middle class feminists assumed that all feminists, regardless or color, class, or social standing faced the same issues in society as they did, and not other issues. (This is also a big issue among the LBGT culture, where gays or lesbians are judged by their number of same sex partners  and looked down upon for having hetero relationships, but that’s a different post.) Either way, it’s othering. It’s a way to determine who is ‘properly’ feminist, and who isn’t. Cailtin Moran (a famous feminist) is not a fan of heels and purses. I personally love my 4” stilettos, and buy a new purse every four months, but neither of us is a ‘better’ feminist than the other for our choice in footwear. As Zooey Deschanel put it “I want to be a f–king feminist and wear a f–king Peter Pan collar. So f–king what?

As one of my friends mentioned in a recent conversation (whom I won’t name here) “It’s othering, when this is supposed to be an inclusive movement. Female genital mutilation is anti-feminist; dowries are anti-feminist; forcing women to have children they didn’t plan for is anti-feminist. Choosing to take a name because you feel like it isn’t. The meaning ascribed to it by society may not be feminist, but that can evolve and change, as the meanings of many things have evolved. To me, the problem lies with society’s perceived meaning of the choice, rather than the choice itself. Kind of like how abortion isn’t bad, or having lots of sex isn’t bad, but society ascribes a meaning of loose morals to it. That doesn’t mean we should discontinue the practice; rather, we need to engage in education and build a movement subverting the current social paradigm and encourage a change in definition.”

While I am in a position of privilege to be able to change my last name to my husband’s, I resent the implication that that one act somehow lessens my involvement in feminism. I have a Bachelor’s in Engineering, I work in a field dominated by men, but I also love to knit and sew. None of those individual choices defines my feminism, this one act taken out of the context of my entire life shouldn’t define my feminism either.

Rebuilding my closet

One of my resolutions this year is to be more precise with what my ‘style’ is. My closet is an amalgam of everything I’ve bought in the last 5 years, yet in spite of that (or perhaps because of it) I have a surprisingly small wardrobe. I rarely donate clothes, because I wear them into oblivion, and then they just stick around in my wardrobe unworn. So I wanted to take some time to think about my wardrobe and and what style I like, and then slowly build on to that throughout the year. I don’t have thousands of dollars to just drop on a new wardrobe all at once, but I figure I could build over time, as well as sew and knit some things. I also shop at thrift and consignment shops a lot, and I think that will be a major focus of things I buy as well.

I’ve mostly been using Polyvore and Pinterest to create outfits I like, so that I can get a better sense of what I want my wardrobe to look like. Then, earlier today, Leeleetea bogged exactly what I had been looking for. Her 12 Outfits Project is dedicated to making 12 outfits this year. That is a little ambitious for me this year, but definitely something I’ll be following, and aspire too. Maybe next year? She did however mention both A Verb For Keeping Warm’s Seam Allowance goal of making 25% of your wardrobe handmade, which led me to Project 333‘s goal of only putting 33 items in your wardrobe to be space savingsimplifying, and provide piece of mind. Another inspiring story is Sonya Phillip’s 100 dresses. I especially like that she make simple, bright dresses that can be worn over jeans. When I think of making dresses, I think something from Modcloth, and how those are way to complex for me to even comprehend the construction. I’ll also be relying on Putting Me Together‘s Remix Basics to decide how I can use clothes in multiple ways, so I’m not wearing the same out fits over and over.

Here are some rules (more like…guidelines) that I want to follow in my goal for this. I reserve the right to edit and change the rules as need be. They are my rules.

1. – Starting officially in March (for the duration on March/April/May) I will pare my wardrobe down to 33 items. (this is tops, bottoms, scarves, and shoes) (not including necklaces and bracelets or undergarments/socks)

2. – At least 25% of the 33 items in my wardrobe (8-9 items) will be handmade, either knit or sewn. This does not count items I have bought and repurposed they have to be made completely from scratch.

3. – The purpose of this is to simplify my wardrobe, not bust stash. I can/will purchase fabric, yarn, and accessories as necessary to complete my wardrobe.

4. – The handmade items in my wardrobe can be items I have already made. They count toward my 25% handmade goal, but they also count towards my 33 items total.

Those are the only rules I think I need so far, as I don’t necessarily plan on swapping clothes in Project 333. I think I’ll start wearing a lot more dresses/skirts and leggings, and I can’t/don’t want to make jeans, or most pants, really. We shall see how it goes!

In which I kill romance with practicality

So as our wedding is 161 days away (just over 6 months) we’re starting to get down to the nitty gritty details of wedding planning. Which isn’t bad, really, just causing a lot of introspection about what I really want from my wedding. And really, it’s not a lot. Maybe I’m the least romantic person ever, but I don’t see getting married as ‘taking the plunge’, ‘the happiest day of my life’, ‘the first day of the rest of my life’, etc, etc. I mean, yeah, I’m happy to be with Brad, but I don’t need a wedding for that. I honestly really see marriage as a piece of paper, as a tick mark on the tax forms I have to file every year. People get married and divorced constantly, and that’s ignoring the whole ‘who has the right to get married?’ issue. If you want to use those specifications, the happiest day of my life would technically be the day I got engaged, I guess, when Brad asked me to spend the rest of my life with him, and I said yes. That’s the important part. Wanting to stay with someone day in and day out is what really matters, and being able to say I’m married isn’t going to change that at all. I mean, by the time we get married, we’ll have been together for 4 years, and engaged for a year and a half of that. To say that our lives our just starting over on that day erases all the growth we’ve had together up to that point. For the first four years of our marriage, our relationship before we got married will be a least half of our lives together.

So yeah, I’m looking forward to the rest of our lives being together, but that’s not starting on our wedding day. That already happened a long time ago. I’m excited for our wedding in terms of throwing a party for our nearest & dearest, and spending some vacay time together.

Yuletide

As I sit by Brad and his family and watch reruns of TV shows, watching the snow outside, curled up under a blanket, I have my dog, my new laptop, and two knitting projects in front of me, I appreciate that I am having a picturesque Christmas Eve. Later I will wax philosophical about this past year and the coming year or two, but right now I am going to drink some boozy eggnog and smile.

photo

 

photo-1

One

Hey! My day 1 photo. Which also counts as a self portrait, which is basically a twofer. (expect a lot of pictures of my feet, is the only feature I like about myself, and that’s because I own a lot of shoes. I am trying to stray away from the birds-eye-view photo of my feet, which is very instagram-ish, I’m trying to get other angles.

Its like a circus in here

I keep thinking about how cool it would be to do a 365 photo project, and then I remind myself I can barely get through a 30 day photo project. I did a 365 photo project for over half the year using a camera app on my phone I really  liked, then about 7 months into the year they reorganized their app and it was really hard to keep track of, so my enthusiasm petered out.

Anyway, I’ve talked myself into wanting to do a 365 photo project next year – maybe a self portrait one? To remind myself that this is never going to work, I’m making myself do a little 30 day project starting today. Mid October might be a weird time to start a 30 day project, but as I’m already impatient to start my non-existent 365 project, there’s no way I’m waiting 2 weeks to start a 30 day one.

Side note- you should be inside my head right now. Superego and Id have run amok, while Ego is passed out in the corner. Who knows what’ll happen next.

Thrifty Stuff

One of my favorite camera accessory stores, PhotoJojo, posted their new camera strap necktie exactly a week after my camera strap clasp broke. I think this is a really cute idea, but after seeing the $30 price tag, my first thought was ‘I can make that!’ Seriously, even buying a new necktie make in to a strap would be a cheaper option.

I still definitely plan on making this strap, especially for shooting weddings, but since I’m trying to save money for the wedding, and the fiance does not have any ties he’s willing to donate to the cause, I decided to make my own camera strap from stuff I already own.

I more or less followed this blog post, except for the end because I don’t have jump rings or clasps. I used some square rings off an old purse, and the fabric is a strip from a skirt I love, but is way to short. Once the rings were attached, I had to figure out how to get the strap to attach to the camera. Since I didn’t want to buy any parts, and my old camera strap clasp broke, I decided tying it on would be the best option.

Using quadruple thickness embroidery thread, I tied a reef knot (or my closest approximation of one) to each end. I used the extra length of embroidery thread to tie a bow.

The flowery fabric plus the bow is a little more girly than I like, I’d love to use a black and white graphic fabric with red thread or something. But, this is perfectly functional, and didn’t cost me a dime! (plus, you can do it in about an hour, too).

Inorganic Chemistry 101

I love lots of chemicals. The ones that preserve my food, mold my tennis shoes, make my lotion smell good, run my car, you name it.  I also love the ones that have been coloring my hair faithfully for the last 7+ years. Mostly red, but black, blonde, every shade of brown, and even green once.

(yes the green was intentional)

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was coloring my hair and my fiance stopped by. As soon as he caught a whiff of the fumes in the bathroom he started coughing.  “Doesn’t that hurt your nose?” he asked me. “Well yeah, but you get used to it.” Was my nonchalant reply. Then, cliche as it might be, something clicked that I hadn’t really thought about before: how am I ok with this?

I mean, this stuff’ll make your eyes water, and every time I inhale I can feel my nose hair shrivel up a little more. I generally use two packages of dye, since my hair is so long and thick, so the long application time means every so often I have to step outside the bathroom to get a breath of fresh air.

(Over the last 7 years, I’ve inhaled (possibly) harmful chemicals roughly 87 times in the name of beauty. No good.)

However, I’m also not willing to give up on red hair. It’s just so me I don’t want to stop dyeing it, even if it is really bad for me & my hair. So I did some research, and I ordered some Henna dye, and I will try that out, and let you know how it goes.