The Huffington Post's recap of Beyonce reclaiming HRC's "could've stayed home and bake cookies" as well as the controversy of her not taking Bill's name from the get go, had me reflecting about my own 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.