In case you missed it in the flurry of real news about China and–oh, anything else–Demi Moore has changed her infamous @MrsKutcher Twitter handle to @JustDemi. The change comes six months after her split from husband Ashton Kutcher, a Twitter trailblazer. The couple used Twitter to publicly adore one another, to fend off critics, and to make things as awkward as possible once they went their separate ways.
I can’t say that putting your marriage on blast via Twitter is wrong. This is a tool that has proven its utility for everything from sharing pictures of that amazing reuben you had to liberating big honking parts of the Middle East. Twitter has such a range of utility that managing your personal life with it is as a logical as any other use, I suppose. What I do think Demi Moore did wrong by tweeting under @MrsKutcher was…tweeting under @MrsKutcher.
Full disclosure: I did not take my husband’s name when I got married. I didn’t feel as if I had to, for one, but mostly I love the sound of my name. Would you trade “Molly Martin?” No. No, you would not. I think a woman taking her husband’s name has complex origins and would never venture to question anyone’s motivation for changing or keeping her last name. That’s not what my timely (if it were 2009) and justified [assuming I had any damn business saying anything to a stranger] advice to Demi Moore is really about; it’s about identity. It’s about branding. Become Demi Kutcher. Wear a t-shirt that says, “I’m with Ashton.” Tattoo his name on your forehead. I don’t care.
Just don’t make a brand out of your marriage. You’re an actor, a mother, a producer, a woman, and a wife. Your Twitter handle brands your status as a wife, the one trait that could change and the one property that may have everything to do with your values and your heart but, at the end of the day, it’s just a thing that you did.
I love (-ish) being with my husband. Our nearly six years of marriage don’t feel entirely different from the four years of un-marriage prior, but who’s to say that I wouldn’t feel differently if we’d never been hitched? So, I’m not knocking marriage. I’m also not knocking feeling over the moon proud and excited to be married. Nor do I have Problem One with someone feeling as if her role as a wife is her central purpose. But your identity as a person, a woman, and whatever else you’ve chosen for yourself…well, it needs to remain top of mind regardless of your marital status. That doesn’t make you self-centered. It makes you a self.
I feel like Demi Moore using @MrsKutcher was a way to prove a point to people who thought she was too independent: “Getting divorced from Die Hard? After he nearly blew up on Christmas for you?” “Taking your daughters to Idaho? BY YOURSELF?” “Getting nearly naked in a bad semi-action film? At your age?” “WHY AREN’T YOU CUDDLIER, DEMI?”
And that’s what I mean by branding your marriage, Demi. People only brand something when they want to sell it. Not to be rude, but it’s the same as a diehard NKOTB fan taking up a @Jordan4Ever handle: she wants to sell her image to the world, either as someone with an ironic nostalgic sense of self or someone who hasn’t had a radio since 1989. You were branding yourself as @MrsKutcher because you wanted the world to buy you as a wife. And the only person you should care about buying you as a wife is yourself and your spouse.
And another thing: how awkward was it when you split? I hate to be a cynic but marriages fail and tattoos or Twitter handles aren’t divorce insurance.
But what do you think, MamaPop readers? In the age of social media, should women be cautious about branding themselves as @MrsSoAndSo? Or is it just, frankly, a concern for people with an existing public brand? Or for people at greatest risk…say, those with the double whammy of a second marriage AND marriage to someone famous?
And I’m not sure that, for me, it stops at public branding. Maintaining a separate identity and personal mobility matters for all married people, right? I grew up with happily married parents who never shared a checking account. My own spouse and I don’t have joint finances. I think we’re being pragmatic; others think we’re half-assing a commitment.
I suppose I see maintaining a strong identity, personal brand, and your own means of survival as a marital necessity. But is it ever marital napalm?