Name Changes and Feminism

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As you can see by my new byline, I have changed my last name from Phillips to Quraishi. In case anyone’s wondering, the name is Pakistani in origin, as is my new husband’s family. Which is why I now know far more than I ever thought I would about the ISI, drone attacks, and why fish is inherently halal but not chicken. It’s been an cross-cultural exchange, and one I’m happy to experience.

My good friend asked me why I decided to change my name, since it is a major pain in the butt, and since I am a kind of rampant feminist. It was a good question. Can changing your name to your husband’s be a feminist action? I like to think so. I’m still a feminist and I’m not changing my name because I believe my personal identity ended when I walked down the aisle: I’m changing it because if my husband’s going to be hassled by the TSA, I want to be next to him getting patted down too. And I’m doing it because we’re having a baby. In a world where divorce rates are high and people move far from their hometowns, I’d like for our child to at least be born into a family where we all share the same last name, where we are all Quraishis. Beyond that touchy-feely stuff, “Quraishi” is honestly just a much more interesting name than “Phillips” and potentially a more memorable byline.

Ironically, in changing my name to Quraishi, I’ll be undoing what my mother did for me. My own mother, originally from Japan, specifically gave me the generic, WASP-y name of “Jennifer Phillips” so I wouldn’t be racially discriminated against. On paper, I would look just as Anglo as the Emily Patterson or Stephanie Peters I might be competing against for jobs. Everyone would know how to pronounce my name.

Now, of course, I’ve totally screwed that up. Sorry Mom. I will likely always have to tell people how to pronounce my new last name (kuh-RAY-shee). And sure, there’s a chance someone will decide to hassle me someday because of the foreign-ness of my last name. As a woman, however, I think it’s a sign of the times that I didn’t feel pressured at all to change my last name upon marriage. In fact, people in San Francisco were surprised I was changing it. So while I may be making my life more difficult in some ways (“can you spell that for me again?”) and easier in others (e.g. home loans, hospital visits) it is entirely my choice to make. And for that, I am grateful.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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