But I will be changing my name legally. When I proposed to the fiancé (this is the last thread where he’ll go by that name), it was partly driven by the desire to share a name with him and his sons. My eldest son had done a project on families in the September and we had a number of conversations about what constituted a family. It made me realise that I wanted to be part of his family officially, that I wanted the clarification as to what I was to them as much as he did.
I’ve referred to the fiancé’s kids as my stepsons since we started living together because I felt that that was what they were to all extents and purposes. I was feeding them, cleaning up after them and sharing parenting responsibilities for them. The eldest has responded to the question of who I was by saying I was his stepmother but names are important and I want to share theirs.
Taking a man’s name is a bit contentious in some feminist circles. Because the tradition traces back to women being first their father’s and then their husband’s property, I can understand the issue but unless double barrelling works (sounds terrible in our case) you need to pick one name, or a new name or not share a name. In practical terms I think a woman taking a man’s is as good as any other.
The key thing is what my passport says and that will be Mrs Kathryn -----------
I’ve been pondering my feminist credentials recently as the likes of Mad Men and Pan Am come under scrutiny. There is an argument that by watching these programs women are allowing for sexism in exchange of really great fashion. I find this a bit of a stretch, after all do we take issue with Gone with the wind for glamorising a world with slavery?
I personally think Mad Men and Pan Am can be seen as inspiring. The character Peggy in Mad Men certainly suffers her share of sexism but she also characterises the battles my Grandmother’s generation endured; battles that paved the way for women like me to become copywriters with nobody thinking anything of it. Similarly, Pan Am features a woman who ran away on her wedding day because there was still a world to see. This is a lesson women are still learning and I for one wish I’d had the courage to do that instead of waiting a few months and having a divorce on my hands.
The reality is that feminism’s battle is not yet over. So what is wrong with looking at the journey? If anything watching Mad Men and Pan Am make me appreciate how far we’ve come and how we mustn’t slip back into a time where women were unusual in being self determining. And fancying Don Draper doesn’t mean I’d have any compunction about speaking out against any man that spoke to me like that in real life.
Give us some credit angry feminist types! When I watched On her Majesty’s Secret Service recently I was taken aback by Bond’s knocking out his wife-to-be to shut her up and make her portable in the face of danger. I don’t think exposure to outdated gender roles will erode my sense of acceptable behaviour anytime soon!
Kirsty Allsop tweeted this week in defence of the comfort that some women get from crafts. I’m quite glad that she’s speaking up on behalf of women capable of balancing their ambition with a desire to home make. In the last few months I have been baking a mountain of cookies, mince pies and cakes for my wedding, I’ve made decorations and arranged flowers. I want to make my home warm and welcoming. Throughout this period I have also cooked a roast each Sunday.
I see my desire to bake, to cook and to create a warm and welcoming home as quite unrelated to my career. I’m no less intelligent for appreciating that my Nana handed down her amazing pastry recipe and making mince pies just like she taught me to. I’m no less ambitious for taking inspiration from my mother’s floristry skills and seeking to emulate them as I play with hydrangea heads. These skills I’m cultivating didn’t stop me getting a PhD.
So this week I’ll take my husband-to-be’s name, I’ll relish in providing meals for my nearest and dearest and I may or may not be making a nod to sixties fashion due to my love of Mad Men. Throughout all this I retain the right to call myself a feminist.
I shall be away next week as the fiancé and I are honeymooning in New York. Take care, enjoy your Christmas parties and I’ll see you on the other side!