The Name-Changing Game
All the brides among my Facebook contacts promptly changed their last names after their weddings, and it made me wonder how many women opt to keep their last names and how people generally feel about the issue.
My quick Google search didn’t turn up any surveys in the Philippines, but in the United States I found that women increasingly pick husbands’ surnames over their own and that 70% of Americans say married women should change their names, 50% say they should be required to.
This website asked “Should married women keep their last name or switch to their husband’s?” and 61% of respondents said “switch” while 39% said “keep.”
Some of the answers on the “switch” side were really creepy, e.g. “Once they get married, they should give up their own identity and become part of him.” (OMG WTF.)
I kind of understand why women opt to change change their names. For many, taking your husband’s name is a symbol of love/commitment/unity etc. For others, it’s not a big deal one way or the other and they see no reason to fight social convention. Some may prefer to keep their names but give in to social pressure. And apparently, a lot of women are under the mistaken impression that they’re legally required to adopt their husband’s surname.
I personally feel very strongly about keeping my name. When I was younger I used to doodle Aissa [insert guy’s name here] on the back of my notebooks, but the way I think about my identity and relationships/marriage has changed a lot since then.
It’s going to be a pain having to explain to people why I didn’t take my husband’s last name, but I realize I don’t have to be prissy about it and constantly correct people that I didn’t take my husband’s name because my name is tied to my identity and I’m not any less me just because I got married and it’s an archaic custom, I’m his partner not his property yadda yadda yadda.
I’ve decided to use my “maiden name” legally and my married name occasionally, e.g. when I attend PTA meetings at my kid’s school or whatever, and just try to squelch the urge to pontificate when I’m referred to as Mrs. Hislastname.
I liked what Nancy Gibbs had to say on the matter:
All these identities are me: Ms. when I’m out slaying dragons, Mrs. when I’m in the company of those I love most, Miss when I want to stay home under the covers and daydream. Feminists a generation ago fought for the title and dreamed of Freedom and Choice and Opportunity; maybe the surest sign that they’ve won is not which title we pick, but that we can have them all at once.