i never wanted to be a feminist. who will marry me now?

Until recently, I was embarrassed to call myself a feminist. I knew that as soon as I spoke that dirty word people would look at me differently. When I described myself as a feminist (and I did – I was just embarrassed in doing so) I would quickly defend myself by explaining that a feminist is an advocate for human rights, not a short-haired man hater.

I became a closet feminist nearly four years ago, during my final semester in college. I knew in my heart I was a feminist but would never, ever admit that to anyone for fear of being scorned. Generally, people do not like feminists. (Generally, people do not know what feminist means.)

I was a feminist, but I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want to care about equal opportunity for women and I certainly didn’t want to be known for it (how embarrassing!) I would lie in my bed at night and tell God I didn’t want to care and I definitely didn’t want it to be my calling, or whatever. So could I please have different passion? Please?

But I can’t help it – my pulse continues to quicken and my insides churn whenever I witness the inequality of women. Few other issues can make me so heated.

Last night I started the biography of Lucy Stone and I found myself holding a scream in my chest as I read what I already knew about the oppression of women. I know the facts, but they stab me every time I hear them.

Slowly, yet surely I’m coming into my identity and calling as a feminist. For a while I was like Moses at the beginning of Exodus, “But Godddd! I don’t WANT to do this! Wah wah the Israelites don’t even like me and can you pa-lease can you choose someone else?”

But somewhere along the way Moses stops protesting and just accepts his lot in life. I’m kind of getting there.

I’ve stopped being embarrassed when I tell people I’m a feminist – even though I’m usually met with a surprised smirk, “Oh, really? You’re a feminist?” as they check the length of my hair. I smirk back and think, “You’re probably one too. You just don’t know it because you don’t know the correct definition of feminist. And your hair is shorter than mine.”

I used to worry people would think I’m a lesbian because I’ve never had a boyfriend and I’m a feminist. I don’t really care about that anymore – people can think what they want. Now I’m worried I’ll never find a Christian man who will not only put up with my strong feminist views, but also be right alongside me in my fight for human equality.

I know a lot of great Christian guys who believe in human equality…to an extent. For most of them there’s a limit to what women are able/supposed to do – because God said so (God was also a proponent of the crusades and slavery, don’t forget!) I don’t really want to get into the nitty gritty of all of that because it wears me out. But I believe God has a different idea about women than what most people believe.

When a guy likes me I always think, “if only you knew.” If only you knew what a radical feminist I am – it would scare you away. Earlier this year I was talking with a new friend and I told her that I didn’t want to take my husband’s last name. And then I freaked out, “But DON’T tell any boys that!!! PROMISE ME YOU WON’T TELL THEM!!!” Because one time I casually mentioned the last name thing in front of a guy and he said – point blank – he would never marry me. So I usually try to keep that my dirty little secret. My plan used to be a) let him fall madly in love with you b) then spring the whole last name thing on him.

But I don’t want to make excuses/keep secrets about who I am or what I believe. Hence why I just told you all out there in Internet-la-la-land my scandalous secret (note: it still makes me insecure to put that out there.)

Even though I worry I’m too much a feminist for Christian guys, I choose to believe (most of the time) that God is going to bring to me a man who not only calls himself a feminist, but is also willing to forfeit the tradition of his last name. Lucy Stone found one, after all, so why can’t I?

P.S. My college friend Lance Bernhard married Michelle Wuerth – they each kept their last names. Here’s why.
P.P.S. My good friends Drew Bergen and Alie Trudeau married and kept their last names.


About Hope Naomi

Lover of all things tea and travel.
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15 Responses to i never wanted to be a feminist. who will marry me now?

  1. you made me a feminist. and i love that you are proudly telling the world of your passion and God’s heart for HUMANity.

    and the man you’re gonna marry is gonna be radically amazing..perfect for you!! 🙂

  2. jolie says:

    1. i love you
    2. Although Sean didn’t want to take my name or make a new last name, he was totally fine with me keeping my own (I’m the one that decided I’d rather take his than keep my own)
    3. There are definitely men out there that love Jesus and also fully support more modern views of women and gender roles! You can find them! Lance, Drew, and Sean are some examples!

  3. Hope I love that you wrote about this….I’ve been thinking about the whole name thing as well and just read the post by Drew…what an eye-opening perspective from a man….first I’ve seen like it. Anyway I support your feminist ways because I must admit I used to be a closet feminist as well 🙂


    also the thought of not being able to sign bg sort of makes me shudder.

  4. marissavilla says:

    This really made me think. Thanks for sharing. And you’re right — I think — about showing/saying who you really are and not holding back in order to get a good Christian guy to like you. I don’t necessarily identify with the burden you have (I mean, I get it, I agree but the name change thing doesn’t necessarily set me on fire you know?), but there are definitely things about myself, my past, etc. that I feel like I need to hide/change in front of those nice Christian boys. But it’s perfectly acceptable for those same Christian boys to talk about/say in public. Know what I mean?

    And I’m learning too to just embrace all God has brought me through and the Christian man I find will be strong enough to handle it. (So people say? haha) Just like the one you find will be strong enough to handle this.

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure that when I get married I’ll keep my family name in my byline and change it legally–in case you were taking a survey. 🙂 Kendra and I actually talked about this the day I left Charlotte! I’d asked if she’d keep signature the same in her art.

    Oh yeah. When I almost married a Mexican man my name would have been Marissa Villa de Nuñez. That “de” means of– like, belonging to. Yeash.

    Long comment over.

  5. your heart is so attractive.

    i love your words. sitting here having coffee and working on budgets + responding to emails with my roommate kate, and your blogpost opened a good conversation on feminism.

    we really like you, we’d like to invite you to join our lesbian commune. (joke).

    thank you for sharing the p.s-es. that’s hopeful.

    can’t wait to hang out with you mañana!

  6. dan says:

    i support you too, hope. thanks for sharing your little secret on the internet…i respect that and respect you, lots. ive gotta lotta love for you!!

  7. Jeff Goins says:

    Interesting. With a great deal of trepidation and wholehearted respect towards you, Hope (you know I think you’re great), I’d like to object:

    Of course, I’m biased, but I always thought it was kind of a beautiful act of symbolism that a woman would give up her last name (half of herself) to take on her husband’s last name (half of himself).

    It goes deeper than patriarchy, in my opinion. It’s about two becoming one.

    When you get married, you don’t retain your identity. Not really. And I think that’s what makes it so hard — and so wonderful.

    I suppose the same could be done the other way (a man taking his wife’s name), or you could do like they do in Spanish-speaking countries (and share each other’s names), but the idea of each person changing their lives and not doing something outwardly to express the inward change just kind of feels hollow.

    That said, I don’t have any moral objections to a woman (or man) not changing his/her name when getting married. There are so many changes you have to make in marriage; the last name is the least of your worries.

    • Hope Naomi says:

      Jeff – I actually totally agree with you. Well, *almost* totally agree with you, haha. I think there is beauty and power in the symbolism of two becoming one and taking on the same name – my hope is to create a new last name that my husband and I will both take. Instead of one of us taking on the other person’s identity, we will create a new identity together. A new life together, a new name to symbolize such an idea.

      Thanks for your comment – I really appreciate your thoughts!

  8. sara choe says:

    to chime in specifically about the maiden name stuff: in korea/korean culture, a patriarchal one, women keep their last names — but not in the vein of feminism. apparently, and i could’ve misheard/misunderstood, women keep their last names because they’re not thought worthy to take on their husband’s; not so much being independent and such.

    i’ve been leaning more towards keeping my last name for several reasons. the paperwork seems bothersome; whether i drop mine and add his, or keep mine and add his, or or combine ours (which would make my name really long as i want to keep my middle name, too, and not just have my last name become my middle name).

    and as a hyphenated american, my last name is a marker. if my future husband is korean, i still wanna represent that family line since the kiddo(s) will have the his last name; if our surname is the same in korean but spelled differently in english, well…moot point. i’m more open/likely to take his name if he’s korean. if my future husband is asian but not korean, i’m still open, but less so — some surnames could be either korean or chinese. if future hubby is not asian, then probably will keep my name, so people know that i’m korean/asian.

    i was talking with a few friends, two of them are dating each other, about which at my church i’d be willing to say yes to if he asked me out. the guy says in his personal honest assessment, there are very few, if any, guys he knows well enough who’d be at a similar level spiritually. in other words, that spiritually speaking, i’m an amazonian which is somewhat intimidating.

    so, i get the whole worrying if there is a man out there who loves Jesus who also gets you.

    but i think what God says over both of us is, “girl, i am GOD. of course there’s nothing impossible or improbable with me.”

    me, your quasi-feminist (because there are just some things i could learn to do – like heavy lifting and car repair and other handy-work stuff – that i’d rather defer to a man) fan & friend.

  9. Robin says:

    I told my boyfriend that if we get married, I’m not taking his last name. He couldn’t understand. So, I asked him, “Well, would you change your last name to mine if we get married?” and he actually had this physical reaction to that question. I told him that’s *exactly* how I feel about losing my last name, except that it’s culturally pushed on girls from the time we toddle around that we’ll be changing our name at some point. He’s open to it now!

    Also, my friend told me that it’s free for the woman to change to her husband’s last name, but it costs money for the man to change his name to his wife’s last name. If true, that could be a subtopic for this belief. Why not just make it free for either spouse to change to the other spouse’s name?

  10. skmorgan says:

    I so love this. I remember sitting outside the camping center when we were staying in Dublin on the first day of the Race and I was talking to Robin, and you came up, and somehow the issue of feminism got brought up and you excitedly asked Robin, “Oh my gosh, you’re into women’s rights, too?! We so need to talk later!”

    And I didn’t exactly know what happened, because aside from the women voting thing and a couple historical things, I guess I really wasn’t aware that women’s rights was an on-going thing (at least in any kind of relevant way).

    Listening to your heart, seeing how women around the world are treated, coming to terms in Phuket that all the American girls on our squad -no matter how beautiful- felt all the same insecurities, me coming into myself and embracing what feminine REALLY means for the first time… These things have all changed me into a feminist.

    But I really have to say that you were the first person I saw that was really passionate about it. And your example, the things you’ve done and said, have made me a feminist. Now, I really embrace it, although I get worried that people will misunderstand me as a man-hater, too. I hate that female egalitarians so often get maligned for their beliefs simply because of their gender. There was a time when I would read the sentence I just wrote and roll my eyes and think, “That’s not true”. But being out in the world and being educated about the facts and looking at our culture through the lense of fairness and not the fragmented view we’ve grown up with should make anyone shocked that they haven’t seen it before.

    Anyway, I’ve really been fired up about equal rights as of late and sharing my ideas with my friends and co-workers. It’s crazy how many people will absolutely agree with what you’re saying when you ask them their opinion, but how many people are afraid of the title ‘feminist’. Even men.

    I love you and your beautiful heart! Thanks for helping open my eyes, too 😉

  11. marissavilla says:

    After reading this again, I’m curious on your thoughts of having your dad’s last name, but not your mom’s? Or do you have hers? I have both…but my mom’s is my middle name (I would be Marissa Villa Delira had I not been born in the States. Instead I’m Marissa Delira Villa and rarely use Delira for anything).

    Just curious!

  12. neilbruinsma says:

    Hope! I am surprised I missed this thought provoking post. But glad I caught it now. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Pingback: I had plans… | Winter's Child

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