Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: March 9, 2013
Primary Language: English
“My mother comes from a Mormon family, and none of the women in her family are supposed to have middle names, because you’re supposed to get married and take your original surname as your middle name and then take your husband’s surname. But then she gave herself a middle name when she became forty because that had frustrated her.”
My informant told me this story about her mother and made it seem as though this is a common practice among Mormon women. In a strongly male-dominated culture that values marriage as much as Mormonism does, this did not come as a surprise to me. By taking your husband’s surname, you become part of a new family unit, and keeping your original surname as your middle name keeps a connection to your original family. The name her mother gave herself, incidentally, was her father’s first name.