I sit here as the new columnist, the journalistic novice to the Daily, and I try to reflect on my life and the myriad of questions that plague my young mind each day.

Paul Wong

Once in a while I will gaze out my window at the first blizzard of the season, and wonder: Exactly who was it that discovered that every single snowflake is different from the rest?

Someone actually sat down to study each individual drop of frozen rain, only to make that simple statement? Sounds absurd to me!

And then I glance around my messy room, wishing that somebody else can come in and clean it, and ask myself, “Why do we always clean up for the cleaning person to come?”

Did you ever notice that people do that?

I”m telling you, I find this so profound.

Anyway, out of all my random questions, I have decided to focus on one that pertains much more to my life than those previously mentioned, and allows me to question society and the values that we have all grown up with.

I recently engaged in an interesting conversation with a good friend over an issue I always found trivial in life, yet one which he thought shocking to even bring up.

He was appalled, utterly stupefied at my mention of keeping my last name when married.

He demanded to know my problem, my outlandish reasoning for such an absurd personal choice.

To think! In a world like today, in our unconventional society, where you can only enter certain bars in New York City if you are stark naked, one would still think this phenomenon ridiculous!

I suppose it begins with the atypical family I was raised in.

Mom commuted to an urban office each morning while Dad stayed home in front of a computer, contemplating the afternoon”s grocery purchases for dinner. My friends never comprehended my skewed perception of the family and constantly questioned the peculiarities of my life.

What I had innocently accepted as normal, they thought completely weird. Hence, my outrageous reasoning for the concept of the last name was born.

My mother must not have read the “traditional rules of marriage” pamphlet before tying the knot, and here she is today married for twenty years, with the same last name as the one deemed her own from birth, perfectly happy and successful.

She did it!

She held onto that significant piece of her identity, and nothing bad has happened!

For, what is name exactly? Simply a mere, meaningless combination of letters?

I beg to differ. My name belongs to me, and only me.

Where would Rena Greifinger go if I became Mrs. Somebody else?

I would feel slightly stripped of my characteristics, my femininity robbed of my eccentricity as if I”m nothing more than a nameless adjunct to another. My name is special to me, as form fitting as my skin, and just as painful to remove.

And what a hassle to give it up!

Changing documents, correcting those who have known me for so long and have addressed me as the old friend they thought they always knew. Explaining to my father that I no longer want association with his family nomenclature that I would rather put a younger and less known male before him! And you all call me a lunatic?

Why is this a tradition?

With the feminist movement and the attempt to end female subordination to men, why on earth am I regarded as strange for refusing to be sheltered by another”s identity?

A man will never take my name, never cash in that one thing that sets him apart from everyone else, to take on a false and already-used piece of self-recognition. I wouldn”t even want that.

Now, I know I sound like a raving feminist, and in fact I am not. I am not angry, not scowling at men and their egotistic domination of American culture.

I don”t want to introduce myself to you all as some opinionated psycho who will constantly preach all of society”s wrongs to the student body.

I have just come to the conclusion that society can indeed be so unpredictable. I have no problem with women who submit to this age-old ritual when getting married.

I do not see them as weak or dependant. I just want to be able to make that choice for myself, keep my name, and be accepted by my friends and the people I interact with those I will have to correct each time they address me with the standard societal rules of marriage in their minds.

In this crazy world where the only thing that is constant is change, I do not believe this issue will sit atop my prioritized list of concerns for my future.

I guess I just needed to vent.

Rena Greifinger can be reached via e-mail at rgreifin@umich.edu.

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