More contradictions from the land where they're rife. Like many women of my generation, I didn't take my husband's name when we got married. It wasn't a big issue or a moment for me to take a political stand. He said that names are personal so do what you want and I was comfortable just keeping the name I had had for almost thirty years. Despite my very traditional and proper grandmother's concerns about the confusion this would create for our children, that never came to pass. In fact, it seemed that at least half of the kids at school had parents with different last names. I made it a policy never to get testy when teachers called me by my kids' last name but always introduced myself to them and corresponded with them using my own name.
Fast forward to our arrival in France, a country that seems at first glance decidely less traditional about such matters. Almost half (48 percent) of all births are to women who are not married to their partners. And even Ségolène Royal, who ran for president in the last go round, was never married to the father of her four children. (Imagine that happening in the U.S.!)
But apparently, my name on my passport doesn't carry much weight. Because my legal status in France is tied to my husband's employment, my carte de sejour (the official document that allows me to be here) was issued in his name (my first name, his last name). To add insult to injury, two other organizations we've joined have also been at a loss of how to deal with a couple with two last names. Our accounts there are now under a hyphenated name. (To make matters worse, I think the hyphenation is his name first for one of them, my name first for the other.) But what are you gonna do? I still have that other little issue of everyone thinking I'm either Spanish or Portugese to deal with as well but that's a story for another day.