Saturday, November 5, 2016

What's In a Name?

I was thrilled to be officially "attached" to Danny Mangum when we wed. I also remember how off-putting it was the first time I heard someone say the words 'Sabrena Mangum.' It was at church, the first Sunday after our honeymoon -- I was being introduced and failed to stand up at first because I thought: "Oh there's another Sabrena in this ward!" (The word ward is Mormon-speak for congregation). 

But they were trying to welcome me. 

Sabrena Mangum didn't sound right then, and ten years later there's still something odd to me about it. I don't know who that person is--in my multiverse, she's never existed anywhere in a legal sense. Basically that name is just a social norm or construct where others assume it is (or should be) my name. 

It was more than a year of marriage before I legally changed my name from Sabrena Suite to hyphenating: Sabrena Suite-Mangum.

A decade later, it's not as big of a deal for a woman to keep her name or hyphenate (even in Utah); but I do remember Danny taking a decent amount of heat for my choice from plenty of work colleagues.

"Doesn't your wife love you?" Some said. 

"She sounds like a feminist..." a different type of, but almost equally abhorrent, f-bomb in Mormon lexicon. 😂

The thing is, I'm honored to have the Mangum name. It's an incredible family and legacy that has blessed my life immeasurably; AND I'm also honored to be a Suite. 

There's a lot that comes with my maiden name. My Dad has no sons and no brothers. I have three sisters. Of the two that are married: one hyphenated, and one took Suite as her middle name. None of the four Suite-sisters were given middle names. My parents anticipated we'd take Suite as our middle name when wed.

A name is a very personal thing; and changing it is also very personal. I make no judgments either way. 

But for me, "Suite" has been a part of my entire life. Many of my closest friends -- especially those I played sports with in high school and volleyball in college still refer to me just by my maiden name--not even Sabrena, just Suite. Some friends have opted for 'Suiter' or 'Suiteness' (if you're my college roommate, Rachel Birr). I adore it and all its derivatives. 

Beyond my youth and time in sports, it's how I was known in the professional world for years through my time in Public Relations and in magazine articles I had penned across the country: my column in SkyWest Magazine was titled "Suite Spots" and the stunt I did for St. George's lifestyle magazine was a play on my name as well, "Oh so sweet!" 

So yes, to some degree changing my name to "Sabrena Mangum" felt like I was trading out my identity, and in a very literal sense giving up the name I had made for myself professionally. But I certainly didn't think I was disrespecting my husband by not replacing my maiden name with his last name -- I felt like I was honoring my family, where I came from and who I'd become.  

What's in a name? Actually, a lot. 

And thankfully, I think Sabrena Suite-Mangum, and all it encompasses has a pretty nice ring to it. 


QNC said...

I enjoy hearing your thoughts behind this. I get you. Having a professional life with a name for yourself makes it harder to lose that name when you get married. My maiden name became my middle name now. As I was reading this, I wonder if your maiden name had been something like Sabrena Fartbucket, would you have been happier giving it up? I know "Fartbucket Spots" probably wouldn't have been as widely published, but maybe because Suite is such a sweet last name, that had something to do with it... Or would you have had the same feminist stand as Sabrena Fartbucket-Mangum?

Sabrena Suite-Mangum said...

@QNC I think I would've been happier giving it up. You are spot on -- it's an AWESOME name (suite, not fartbucket) which is one reason I was even more attached to it. ;)