The Name Game

September 17th, 2010

I enjoyed the lighthearted essay by Jessica Grose '04 about her decision to change her surname to match her husband's ("Sweet Decision," POV, May/June). But I was disturbed by the slew of women who wrote in to discredit her decision (Mail Room, July/August). The letters reminded me of how I found a culture at Brown of too many people who take themselves way too seriously and want to foist their agendas on everyone else.

I took my husband's name for practical reasons: my original name was hard to spell and to pronounce, often leading people to ask me what nationality it represented so they could categorize me into some annoying ethnic stereotype. My new name gives me more privacy and has the added benefit of matching my children's surname.

Lighten up, people. What matters in life is what you do, not what you call yourself. Jessica, if you want to change your name, for whatever reason, even if it is to be sweet (albeit unpopular), you have my full and enthusiastic support.

Laura Shagory Nikas '83
San Antonio, Tex.



I was profoundly disturbed by the letters published in response to Jessica Grose's essay. The right to choose means precisely that: the right to choose. And while I appreciate the historical perspective offered by the letter writers, the fact remains that a choice isn't a choice unless there's more than one option.

I also believe that sharing a name is more than just some "archaic practice." Sharing a name with both the partner you choose to make your life with and your children seems to me a justifiable reason for changing your name. I love sharing a name with both of my parents, and I hope someday to share my name with my own children. Whose name it will be remains to be seen. But that's my choice.

Nikki Phillips '00



It was difficult for me to read the recent attacks on Jessica Grose for her decision to take her husband's name on their wedding day. In a world where we have female presidential candidates, Supreme Court justices, secretaries of state, and yes, even dentists, I cannot let her decision go undefended.

Marriage is a union that embraces the strengths and weaknesses of each partner. Please, if it makes you feel stronger to maintain all levels of your individuality, and this makes your union more formidable, I am all for it. It is wrong to condemn a young woman for her choice to live a life with some reverence for tradition. It is sweet and charming, and neither of these words require the condescending quotation marks. I'm confident that Jessica Grose has accomplishments that cement her self worth, and I hope that she continues to rock it her way.

Ronald A. Mettus '81
Mars, Pa.

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Related Issue
September/October 2010