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3:25 AM Wed, Feb. 20th

Get A Grip: What's in a name?

What is my name? My name is Ms.


That's Ms., as in, not Miss or Mrs.

And Gripman, as in, not my husband's last name.

When I got married I thought hard about the choice that I have.

Do I adopt my husband's last name as custom dictates or do I keep the name I was born with? My instict was to keep my name but my instict has proven inconvenient and confusing to some people.

Some people think that by not taking your husband's name you must not really love him, that your commitment is shaky.

Some take it as a sign of arrogance or defiance of tradition.

My husband knows that I adore him and we both know that our commitment is solid.

A sign of arrogance? Maybe.

A defiance of tradition? Certainly.

My mother, her mother and her mother before her all changed their names at marriage.

Am I disrespecting them by making a different choice? No.

They didn't even have a choice.

And even if they had, I trust in whatever decision they would have made.

I have a choice and to me, it is my responsibility to exercise my right to choose.

To me, there is no shame in keeping your name, just as there is no shame in changing it.

But still, it is confusing.

Introductions have to be explained.

Yes I am his wife.

Yes my name is different.

Yes our daughter has his name.

No I'm not going to change my name.

Why? The reasons are all around us.

Around the globe women are treated as property (hence the tradition of the name change).

In countries like ours where women have made huge strides toward equality, there still exists a wide disparity of pay and power.

It is for myself and for these women, the women who struggle to survive under mandatory veils, and the women who fought for the freedoms I enjoy today, that I made my choice.

Not changing my name is a small thing but the fact that I have such a luxury speaks to the strides already made and the need to keep up the struggle.

This week I was inspired by a story out of Nigeria.

Chevron/Texaco has decimated resources and sits rich among stark poverty in this oil-rich African nation.

Nigerian men have protested and pleaded for jobs only to be ignored as the company imported labor from other countries.

Tired of seeing the men defeated, the women of a small town of Escravos took matters into their own hands and, unarmed, took over the multimillion-dollar facility.

They did no harm to the facility or to the workers, but were firm in their demands.

They vowed not to leave until they had a signed agreement promising jobs and aid.

Amazingly, they got it.

On Wednesday, after a 10-day occupation, Chevron/Texaco and the women signed their agreement.

Chevron/Texaco is even going to throw a party for the women and their families in gratitude for their peaceful and nonviolent methods.

This may seem a strange action by the company but when seen in the shadow of many years of the men's' violent attempts at justice, makes some sense.

Spurred by the success of the women of Escravos, hundreds more unarmed women across Nigeria are now participating in at least four other similar oil terminal takeovers.

But while the women of Nigeria were rising up, in Pakistan a woman was gang raped at the order of tribal elders.

She had committed no crime but her brother had been seen unchaperoned in the company of a woman of higher status.

To punish the family the elders ordered the gang rape the boy's sister.

It is some measure of good news that this atrocity was not committed without consequence and the rapists will likely go to trial.

But the crime has been committed and another woman brutalized.

The news Wednesday wasn't so violent but was nevertheless disturbing.

A study of the long-term economic benefits of a higher education found that while more education translated to much higher lifetime earnings, men with professional degrees will earn nearly $2 million more than women with the same level of education.

These are just three stories, read over the course of two days that reaffirm my decision to remain Ms.


My name signifies symbolic solidarity.

It's a small thing.

But it's something.