I completely agree with the damage and manipulation of "stop hitting yourself" messages to women. It's unfair to chastise women for necessary survival mechanisms, especially when you aren't addressing the need for those mechanisms. And judging other women's experience is... unhelpful, to say the least.
But it's also valuable for each of us to ask, individually, whether those mechanisms are necessary for us at every moment. I find that overall the more I stand up for myself and the more confident I am, the LESS shit I seem to get. By demanding the world treat me with respect and by refusing to apologize (unless I'm wrong about something, because, well, that's just being a good human), I get more respect. And the people I like, like me for that (it helps that I define "people I like" as "people who like me for who I am and how I am" -- simplifies things incredibly).
Can I get away with being as much of a rude, blunt, asshole as a man can? No. But I don't want to be that person anyway... of either gender.
There's such a big grey area between "brash as fuck" and "insecure, irritating, thoroughly un-empowered." I think there must be some middle ground that we each work to set for ourselves, someplace that combines self-preservation with self-confidence, while at the same time working to make those apologizing behaviors less necessary for all women.
"when people asked if we’d chosen a first name, we shared our last name choice instead"
When people ask what you're naming the baby, the correct response is John or Amy or whatever. When you go out of your way to bring it up, as if you are unsure, as if you're justifying, you end up inviting opinion... whether you want it or not.
Our daughter has my last name. Apart from a private conversation between my husband and his mother, we refused to let it be a big deal... and it wasn't. If people ever made some comment, I'd reply "we're matrilineal." I didn't open the door to discussion, so most people kept their thoughts to themselves. Attitude is a lot of this.
My husband occasionally gets mail with my name, and I do get mail with his. My husband's grandmother sends me mail with "Mrs. Husband's-First Husband's-Last" on it! But hey, she's old and of another time. Our daughter sometimes gets mail with my husband's last name or both our names hyphenated too. But most people, and all official organizations, get it right.
With the current divorce rate and frequency of blended families, you wouldn't think anyone would be confused by people in a household with different last names.
@commanderbanana Completely agree with this! I'm black/grey/navy for neutrals and red/royal teal/emerald for colors. Plus white shirts. The results is that everything matches everything else. And when it comes to picking neutrals, beware browns. Every black matches every other black, but browns come in so many shades and it's harder to look pulled together when shoes / belt / purse are all different ones (a real concern when shopping consignment). Plus if you only have a few colors to worry about, you can get statement pieces in those colors (like a red coat or bag) because it will go with all the stuff you own and won't look out of place.
Also, if you wear pants, decide in advance on your preferred heel height and stick to it within half an inch plus or minus. That way you won't have to match heel heights and pants thereby reducing the total number of outfits. All my dress pants are for an approx 2 inch heel and all my casual pants for flats. Shoes are expensive and hard to find consignment so the fewer you need to buy right now (and note the comment on a good cobbler -- invaluable).