8% of women keep Maiden Name?

Oh, Pat Robertson... how you make us giggle!

Oh, Pat Robertson… how you make us giggle!

In March, the wedding website TheKnot.com surveyed nearly 19,000 women who got married last year. Of those women, 86 percent took their husband’s name. The practice of women keeping their last names, first introduced in the U.S. by suffragette Lucy Stone in the 1850s… By the 2000s, only 18 percent of women were keeping their names, according to a 2009 study published in the journal Social Behavior and Personality. Now, according to TheKnot, it’s at just 8 percent….*

Attention world: I’m that 8%!

It is already disheartening to me how few females have chosen Philosophy as their career path, but only 92% of women are still taking their husband’s names? Why is it assumed of me that I have taken his name at all?

Why? For what purpose? Tradition? A sense of belonging and faithful wifery? The reason for me keeping my born name is simple and logical:

  1. I don’t want to change my name on every document and institution I’m a part of.
  2. I like my last name, it kicks ass.
  3. I do not like his last name.
  4. Why should I change it?
  5. I’m an individual, not a wife. I get tax breaks and my man and I work well together and care for each other, so fuck it – we got married. That’s all.

As with all my posts, I’ll reiterate in case those who venture herein think I’m creating an argument: there’s no argument, just choice. I made mine and I am happy with it. I am more interested in the thought process of others.

Why marry? Do you plan to? If so, would you change your name, or want your S.O. to change his/hers? If you are married, what did you chose and why? Do you think this tradition is still rooted in religion? Is it a possession/property issue? What are your thoughts or reactions?

Penny for your Thoughts?
* http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/15/women-changing-name-after-marriage_n_927707.html


19 thoughts on “8% of women keep Maiden Name?

  1. Hi. I got married about eight years ago. We made the decision out of love, cliche as it sounds. Doing the marriage and wedding thing for us was very much a religious experience. We did it for ourselves first and had a ceremony later. I took his name. I wanted to. My husband has a great last name that is easy to spell, unlike my maiden name. But there was more to it. We weren’t going to stay two individuals that are legally bound. For us, it was about becoming one family. We already wanted children and sharing a name is a sign of unity as a single family. I had long since moved out of house and my parents would always be my family, but it wasn’t the same. I was fairly young, so I also didn’t have a mess of things to change my name on. I am Hispanic and I have known many children in my neighborhood who hyphenated somehow to keep their identity with both parents but I didn’t want my future children to go through that confusion. But I also entered marriage to become a wife, so why wouldn’t I want us to be one family by name? I understand how the significance of the change also changes with the desire to not really be a wife. For me, it was much more than a piece of paper that gives me a tax break. I wouldn’t have changed it if I got married for that reason either.

    • Heather, thank you! πŸ™‚ I truly appreciate hearing individual’s perceptions and perspectives, so thank you so much for taking the time to share yours!

      I respect your choice, even though I do not chose it. It’s not for me, and not how I wish to live.

      Me, I’m a happy Atheist, former Christian. Yes, my husband and I want children but we have been trying to conceive before marriage anyway so to us marriage wasn’t a big issue. And yes, we do love each other and are very much in love too. πŸ˜‰

      Best of wishes to you, and thank you again for stopping by! You are welcome here, and I’d love to hear your input on other topics as well.

    • Yaaaay! I know so many people, even my best of friends, that just assume I took his name. Strange how those of us who keep OUR name are still the odd one’s, isn’t it?

      I mean, no judgement from me… ok maybe a little bit… but I try to keep that in check. Thank you for the reply!!

  2. [From the land of the functional – thought I’d visit a while, ha ha!]
    The only people who assume I took my husband’s name are officials πŸ™‚ and, come to think of it, only medical officials or administrators! Everyone else accepts my name as my own, but for some reason hospitals, specialists, and even my GP (before I had him properly trained, lol) insist on treating me as though my name is his name. Interesting.
    Only 8%? That’s crazy! Or are some professional women doing what one of my sisters did, changing her name to her husband’s in private life and keeping her name for work? After all, everything she had published was under her own name – changing it would, in some ways, diminish those accomplishments.

    • I did a lot of researching on it before we got married (eloped, actually, very recently. Ha!). It seems: yes, many professional women do just that, have social names and official names. A lot more are hyphening the two names, or (in states that permit it) changing their middle name to their maiden and their last to their husbands.

      According to this article, slightly dated (2011), yes! Only 8%. It’s probably fluxed a little, but it’s still in the vast minority. Which is just bizarre to me.

      But then again, I took my 1st husbands last name. lol I regretted it, and I was a silly, young, and super religious lady… and I HATED the last name… soooo… oh well. Live and learn. πŸ˜‰

      • Live and learn indeed πŸ™‚

        The biggest problem with names is when it comes to the kids. I have a bit of an issue with the kids taking on just one parent’s surname (usually the father’s). Even hyphenating the names is only a short-term solution – what are the next generation to do? Have quadruple-barrelled hypenated surnames? One couple I know did a great thing: they looked back up both their family trees, and chose a surname they both liked, and both changed their name. So sane!

        My other sister ran into big trouble with this issue. (Well, I think it was big trouble; I think she’s still too sleep-deprived to have noticed.) Her [domineering, ghastly] husband wanted their first born to have his name. The deal was, the first would get his name, and the second would get hers. It took them a very long time to reach this compromise, so long in fact that they were in danger of having their baby named for them (the state can do this, where we live, if you haven’t named the baby within a certain number of weeks!). Guess what? Along came the second daughter, and … it has his surname! She has two middle names, an ancestral family name and my sister’s surname, but still, he got his way – again.

        It’s a difficult question. I still think my friends’ solution was neatest – choose a ‘new’ name and go from there, if you’re planning on having kids. Oddly enough, they didn’t πŸ™‚

  3. Heya! I got married. about a year and 2 months ago. I took his name mostly because I wanted to be rid of my maiden name. It’s my fathers last name and I really have no connection to him or that side of my family. I’ve wanted to change it for a long time and it was the right time to do it.
    I believe it was a property thing, that goes back before religion was a part of being married. Women were considered property (still are in some cultures).

    • Agreed. One of my closest friends had the same reason for changing her last name – hated it, plus a hatred for her abusive father. Ironically, I have a poor connection with my father but just love my last name enough to keep it.

      I fear you are correct with the property issue… after all, it’s rarely seen as tradition for the men to take the woman’s name!

      Thank you for sharing the thought, and for the read! πŸ™‚

  4. I’m divorced now, but when I got married I kept my own name. First of all, I didn’t believe in marriage and neither did he, but he was Canadian and I’m from the U.S. and we did it to be able to live together. Had we been from the same country we may or may not have bothered. Secondly, in French Canada it was no longer typical for women to take their husband’s names.

    Actually, I just looked it up and it seems that it’s not legal for women to take their husband’s name in in Quebec. Quebec newly wed furious she can’t take her husband’s name.

    My sister changed her name, I think, but kept her name professionally at first. However, she married over twenty years ago and now everyone’s confused about what her name is. It’s different on different documents.

      • I lived there and I didn’t know about the law! My ex-husband informed me that no one changed their names anymore, but I don’t think he knew it was a law either. When I asked him how he would feel if I kept my own name he looked at me like a was a little weird because he just assumed I would. It was one of those funny moments when you realize that your significant other comes from another culture.

  5. From my understanding, in South Korea it is common practice for women to keep their name, It is also common practice to not wear your wedding ring beyond your wedding day.

    • I love that so many cultures and countries have so many different traditions! I’ve learned quite a bit just from posting this.

      I did “research” (loosely) before marrying, and now I’m hindsight surprised I didn’t think to look outside the US. Then again, no article mentioned anything that US tradition either.

      Thanks for sharing that thought! πŸ™‚

      • It particularly surprised me as I was under the impression that marriage traditions in areas where Christianity is predominant would have some consistency, especially in the aspect of recognition of a marriage. Boy was I wrong! But it makes sense, as in the greater scheme of things the only thing that really matters is your personal commitment to each other anyways!

  6. What an interesting post and the comments even more so.
    The principle of taking the husband’s surname, as per Pat Robertson’s spec is ridiculous and disgusting. But then he is a dickhead, so what would one expect?
    Yet the comments are enlightening.
    I guess if your surname was Sidebottom, and there was a change to Andrews, or Jackson this would probably be a relief.
    Imagine the hell such a person went through as a kid?
    Damn, if I was a woman I’d have hunted down a man ASAP.
    Probably why so few girls,if any, are named Fanny any more.
    Even calling a son Richard , with what this can be abbreviated to, has its floating icebergs.
    Then there are the issues with children and dual names as pointed out.
    As a bloke, if my surname was Sidebottom, Winter-bottom or anything similar I would take my wife’s name in a heartbeat.

    • Yes! Since posting this, I’ve heard a lot from women who just did not like their maiden name, and were just begging for an opportunity to change it. Although it is, in many places, an option available to change names without marriage, the process is usually considerably more strenuous than the simple process of marriage.

      Always loved my last name though, so it’s staying. πŸ˜‰ Personally.

      Thank you for sharing the thought! Well said, indeed.

  7. My mother who is Russian moved to Slovakia to live with husband (my father) but never took his name (she is an only child). But growing up I always felt she didn’t belong, everybody thought my parents weren’t married. Don’t know why, I guess since it’s basically automatic that women in Slovakia take their husband’s name (or so it was 30 years ago). On the other hand, it’s so sad to see kids who have no idea that their mother used to have a different surname, her maiden name.
    I myself have moved from Europe to Africa, also for a relationship, and when the time comes I am considering hyphenating the surnames. People here struggle with pronouncing mine, but hell, that’s not my problem. I guess it’s about wanting to belong but on the other hand still keep your name and your identity in a sense.

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