To HYPHEN or not to HYPHEN?

For the longest time I refused to use facebook (fb) on the grounds that anybody who knows me knows where to find me; and if somebody really wanted to get hold of me, they would figure out a way to find me.

Until our move to Canada I never saw the necessity to put myself into cyber world. Now, thousands of kms away from our previous bases, I definately enjoy chuckles with long lost mates from around the world. Anybody can find me by putting in my name into the search engine.

Yesterday, during my quick update on fb, I noticed the following: Lots of women (NO men!!!) have reinvented themselves with a hyphen. The woman I used to know as Janet Mulder is now Janet Mulder – Rachmaninov. Or Susan van Brink is now Susan van Brink – om de Hook op de Berg!

A hyphen? This is something I don’t get! Why have a hyphened last name? To me, a hyphened name is right up there with being engaged. What kind of concept is being engaged anyway? You want to let the world know you are off the market, you hold on to what you got but deep down you hope for something better to come along?


Coming back to the hyphen; what is wrong with choosing only one name (yours or your husband’s) and stick to it? Is your marriage in crisis; is this your first step to warn the world “I am getting out of here?”, is this your first step towards liberation or independence?

Personally, I decided to stick to my maiden name. Having a last name like WASCHKO is not the easiest name to grow up with. Children can be so cruel and they called me WASCHKU, Waschikowski, Waschfrau or Waschakaka! Let me tell you, I hated my parents to burden me with a name like this.  It was hell growing up.. But later on, I came to appreciate and even love the uniqueness of that name. I built my identitiy around it, this is who I am, it made me strong! Needless to say, I kept my name after getting married (never engaged!). NO hyphen for me!

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Having a hyphened name looks to me like being indecisive of who you are and what you want. You love your husband, but not too much therefore you need to keep your own name too?

I decided to get a second opinion on this matter. My trusted source of inspiration sat right at the dinner table: Dominic, husband par excellence, born and raised in one of the Southers States of America (this makes him somewhat a traditionalist).. Hence, his first answer to my question “Why would you take on your husbands name”, was “It is tradition for the woman to take on her man’s name.”

Oops, did I hear any resentment that I remained a WASCHKO? If there was a sign of hurt pride in the beginning, it is all forgotten by now. I ‘compensated’ him for letting me keep my name by giving birth to three sons –  and all three boys carry his name!

The second item Dominic brought up was, independence! With a hyphen a woman is breaking the tradition and is claiming part of her independence back. But here is another question: Are you more independent now than at the beginning of your marriage? Women are as well educated and qualified (or even better) than some of our men – might there be a new women’s movement on the horizon?

And,  I nearly forgot, the last thing Dominic mentioned was: “If women add their maiden name to their married name it is much easier for long lost friends to find them on facebook!

Here we have it, I am getting worked up for nothing, I even let my opinionated self shining through! Apologies to my lady friends, you are not indecisive! All you want is to be is found on facebook!

What do you think: Hyphen or no hyphen? Tradition or no tradition?


2 thoughts on “To HYPHEN or not to HYPHEN?

  1. I ditched my maiden name when I took my vows for no other reason than I lacked the imagination to question why or think through the alternatives. Would I do it again?…………… I don’t think so. Not that I am unhappy or anything but there is sometimes a fleeting feeling, of an intangible loss when I think about it.

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