Maiden name? How about it’s just MY name.

If you’ve been coming here for a while, you’ll recall that I posted here about how I have no interest in changing my name if I ever get married (seemingly unlikely, right?).

But then I read this article and learned more about the history of women from being discouraged from keeping their own names. I was outraged.


What would be great, in my opinion, is if the NY Times and other publications who announce marriages stopped assuming anyone would change his or names. Mention it if they do as the exception.

[This article came out about a week ago. I sat on this post for a few days, trying to calm down about the subject and word this post in a way that doesn’t offend friends who have chosen to change their names.]

Were you aware of state laws like this? Does this information change how you feel about the issue?

9 thoughts on “Maiden name? How about it’s just MY name.

  1. markbialczak

    I’m all for the new marrieds to do what they chose with their names, Jen. But I also have to admit that I was glad that my dear wife Karen added my last name to hers after we married. Yet I never once considered adding her last name to mine. I think this makes me old-fashioned. I hope it does not make my a hypocrite. Your post makes me think about it all. Thank you for putting the issue out here. What do you think about my actions of 2008?

  2. hollie

    I changed mine when I got married but it caused me a great deal of stress. I knew of all of the laws because I have a Masters in women’s history. I didn’t want to, because I felt I was taking a step back in terms of women’s rights. His parents pitched a huge fit. So did he. I rationalized that his name was shorter, easy to pronounce, and sounded lovely with my first name. Gone were the days of spelling mine over and over. People I have known my whole life mispronounce it still. It was a huge pain in the ass to change my name and an even bigger pain in the ass to change it back when we divorced. I’d never do it again. I don’t care if the man of my dreams comes knocking down my door, my name stays.

      1. hollie

        I made up for it by launching an all out campaign on my sister to give my niece our last name and not the name of her loser dad. My niece is the coolest chick I know at 10 and is sure she’ll be president one day (but as a backup she says she’d be a geologist or work in the Smithsonian) so I share the name I took back with a future great!

  3. Sabina

    This issue gets even more complicated when you have kids. I was single when I had my son, so he has my last name. He is the only one to carry on the family name, as my brother has a daughter (though we may all encourage her to keep her name if/when she marries) and my sisters’ children all have their fathers’ last names. I was married briefly and took his name (even though I didn’t want to) and then it was a huge pain, and relief/victory, to officially get my name back. I used my name any time I was doing something for my son, anyway. But it is a weird phenomenon when people automatically ask “same last name?” whenever I register my son for something, make an appt., etc. Though I suppose it’s pretty common to have families with multiple last names these days.

    I’m getting a little off-topic, but the point is, you should be able to keep your name if you want it. I was unaware of those laws and they just seem archaic. Makes women sound like property. Maybe a better plan is to somehow combine names when married. I know a few people who have done that, especially those who had no strong ties to their family/family name. They either hyphenated or came up with an entirely new name. I’ll gladly keep my name forever. I’m so happy to have it back!

  4. Deborah Ilene

    I’d never heard of this, but it is interesting and outrageous. Whether or not someone changes their last name should depend on their preference and their preference alone. I LOVE my last name, but only when spoken on its own. With my first and/or middle name attached to it, it’s too long and I am ready for that to end… I’ll probably change my name, but just so that my name will fit on one line of my driver’s license one day!


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