Gender Stereotypes Story - Kirk Campbell

Version 12

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    Share your story & tell us what you have done to promote gender equality in your life.

     

    Name: Kirk Campbell

    Theme: Gender Stereotypes

    Country: USA

     

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    Why I took on my wife's last name after marriage

     

    I got married over the winter break in 2015 and the wedding and honeymoon were wonderful. One thing not many people knew was that after marriage, I would be taking my wife's last name.

     

    This wasn't an easy decision to make. We discussed all of our options at length. We considered making no change, but wanted our future children to share our name. We talked about both taking each other's name or hyphenating. We discussed her taking my name or me taking hers. We even went as far as trying to make up a new last name.

    ....................................

     

    All the while, I kept thinking "I really don't want to change my name." It felt strange and unnatural. Oh, and all of the hassle that it would lead to (I had just renewed my passport!). But, then I thought, "Why should she have to do all of this if I'm not willing to?" In the end, the decision for me to change my name came down to two things:

     

    1. I wanted to honor my personal dedication to support gender equality in a very visible way
    2. I want to be an example to my future children and show that traditions and gender roles are not rules and it's okay to make a different choice

     

    When I told my fiancee, Leigh-Ann, that I had decided to take her name she was a little surprised at first. That surprise quickly turned to excitement and appreciation, and honestly, her reaction alone confirmed for me that I had made the right choice.

     

    We didn't tell many people prior to the wedding (our families and closest friends knew because we didn't want it to be a shock to them). But the vast majority of the guests were unaware. And, at the end of the ceremony, when the officiants announced us as "Mr. and Mrs. Campbell" the reactions were mixed. We didn't hear them at the time because we were too excited but we learned later that there was a murmur of surprise in the room. People were asking if they had heard it right. "He took her name?" One of my dear friends told us at the reception that her wife was so surprised and excited "she nearly peed her pants!"

     

    I haven't heard one overtly negative reaction yet, and doubt that I will, but the one reaction I've gotten most, especially from my male friends, is "Why?" It is that question alone that is the second confirmation that I made the correct choice. My vocal response has always been the two points above but my inner response has been, "Why not?" We have been asking (expecting?) wives to take their husband's names for ages and have questioned them when they haven't. But I doubt many men have been asked those questions when they didn't take the name of their wife. And that, I think, is part of the problem. We haven't asked ourselves if the rules were right or not until now.

     

    I wasn't the first to do this and I will certainly not be the last, but it was my way of showing how I feel about equality. When women ask to be treated equally, the question shouldn't be "Why?" It should now be, "Why not?"

     

    So, why am I sharing this? In support of PwC's involvement in UN Women's HeforShe initiative and to encourage you to show your support for gender equality if you haven't already!

     

    P.S. Joss Whedon, one of my favorite movie and TV writers and directors, has been asked many times why he writes such strong women characters and eventually his response was "Because you're still asking me that question."