ELLE (Australia) - - Editor-In-Chief -

It’s full of new trends, fresh fash­ion, and all the feels. It might not be Fe­bru­ary, the clichéd mag­a­zine month for ro­mance, but the heart-eye emo­jis are well and truly fly­ing at ELLE this month, with no less than three ed­i­tors (in­clud­ing my­self) com­mit­ting to a ride-or-die over the past few weeks. In true fairy­tale style, mar­ket ed­i­tor Clau­dia’s boyfriend Tom (watch me res­o­lutely refuse to use the word “fi­ancé” even once through this en­tire col­umn) popped the ques­tion as they sailed on azure seas aboard a Croa­t­ian yacht, as you do. Deputy ed­i­tor Genevra’s long-term part­ner (see?) Ge­of­frey nos­tal­gi­cally got on bended knee out the front of the pub where they met up for their first-ever date eight years ear­lier, blue box in hand, hu­mungous bounc­ers cheer­ing him on. For me it hap­pened in bed one evening after a per­fect day out with friends, not re­ally so much a ques­tion as a qui­etly sym­bolic (and sparkly) con­fir­ma­tion of a de­ci­sion we’d come to to­gether long be­fore. And then I sur­prised him with his own Maison Margiela signet ring re-pro­posal a few weeks later, just to keep things per­fectly equal in the ro­mance de­part­ment. It was an eq­ui­table, grown-up en­gage­ment, just the way I wanted it. (And maybe the way it hap­pens, the sec­ond time around.)

The mod­ern-day women’s move­ment has given us a new lens through which to look at dat­ing and mar­riage, and it’s less cut-and-dried than ever. Can you be a fem­i­nist and still want to be “given away”? (An­swer: You can.) Can you be a fem­i­nist and still want the ro­man­tic, sur­prise pro­posal? (I didn’t, but you can.) Can you be a fem­i­nist and still sort of se­cretly ex­pect the man to pay on a date? (An­swer: pos­si­bly not in a per­fect post-fem­i­nist world, but be­cause of the “wax tax” – i.e. the costs of dat­ing women ab­sorb as par for the course – this is cur­rently ac­cept­able as far as we’re con­cerned.) And then of course, the big one: can you be a fem­i­nist and change your name? Of course, the an­swer, as al­ways, is that a fun­da­men­tal part of be­ing a fem­i­nist is hav­ing the choice to do what­ever you bloody well want, but that doesn’t make the de­ci­sion any sim­pler. About half of my friends changed their name with­out a sec­ond thought. The other half wouldn’t have con­tem­plated it for a sec­ond. The ELLE of­fice is equally split down the mid­dle. Up un­til now I’ve al­ways fallen firmly in camp It’s My By­line/i Love My Grand­fa­ther/but What About Twi­light, but now, hav­ing fi­nally found my­self ex­actly where I need to be, with the per­son with whom I was al­ways meant to be, who wants ex­actly what I want out of life, I’ve sud­denly found my­self see­ing it dif­fer­ently. I want to be a fam­ily with him in spirit, on pa­per and also on our credit cards. But do I want those things enough to per­pet­u­ate what I’ve al­ways con­sid­ered to be an out­dated and un­just tra­di­tion? Prob­a­bly not. My an­swer, for now, is to try to talk him into tak­ing my last name, as a small step in help­ing to turn the tide against cen­turies of pa­tri­archy. Is it work­ing? Let’s con­sider it a work in progress.

Of course, even if you get past that ma­jor hur­dle, then you have the kids to think about. Most of my friends who kept their own names (again, in­clud­ing my­self) still gave their chil­dren their part­ner’s sur­names or went with dou­ble-bar­relled. But why is that the norm? And what’s the fem­i­nist so­lu­tion? I like the sound of how they do it in Ice­land, where ap­par­ently fe­male off­spring are given the mother’s sur­names while males are given the fa­ther’s. But, as my wildly evolved

12-year-old son pointed out, that as­sumes there are only two gen­ders… and that right there is where I stop try­ing to fix

600+ years of es­tab­lished tra­di­tions in a 600-word col­umn.

A sim­pler love, in these com­pli­cated times, is the love of new clothes, this be­ing the Septem­ber is­sue. And there is so much to love this sea­son, no mat­ter what your style: leather or leop­ard, suit­ing or silk prints, shiny sil­vers or coun­try plaids. This is­sue is full of all of them. The les­son be­ing that fash­ion right now, like en­gage­ments and sur­names, is about what­ever makes you feel good.


LOVE ROCKS: From left: Jus­tine, Clau­dia and Genevra with their (ahem) fi­ancés

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