I have not found a credible statistic on the number of women who marry and keep their current last names–rather than change to their new husband’s last name (and I know I could have an entirely OTHER posting on gay and lesbian couples—one very close friend changed her name when she married her partner—but allow me to focus on the heteros for now). The last time I found a credible statistic, years ago, I found that only 4% of women kept their last names.
4 (four) percent.
That still pisses me off.
I’m one of those 4% (though I certainly hope the number has risen). I had the usual reasons:
- married in my 30s
- have several degrees with that original name
- do not have children
Interestingly, at least to me, my “maiden” name is of a man who did not raise me nor give me any DNA–long story–but since it is a rather comfortable, pleasant name, one that I simply got used to despite it being a bit odd (let’s say I don’t necessarily have the ethnic “look” of my “maiden” name), I have never had a desire to discard it.
So yes, in my case it was not only my choice, but it was an easy choice. The only person who has complained about my decision is, passive aggressively, mom, who sends all correspondence (and checks!) to Mrs. Annie’s Husband’s Last Name.
Luckily my bank has accepted this inevitability each Xmas and cashes the checks anyway.
I have a few colleagues who have kept their names (I hate the word “maiden” name, frankly, since I lost any technical maidenhood long, long before I actually married), but we are still a rare bunch. And students are always surprised/embarrassed to realize that yes, I am married to another English professor and no, I really don’t want you to complain about him to me (but yes, go ahead and praise him).
Well, the whole name thing has come up again with a good friend of mine who has just had a beautiful and soon to reveal her brilliance baby girl. For months now she has been asked about baby’s last name since she has kept her own last name: will you hypenate? whose name will go first? why not just YOUR name? or will it be HIS name?
Tonight, the mystery has been solved: because her hubby’s mother made the loudest noise, baby will have a hyphenated name with her name first, his name second. And this, alas, to my mind means the baby will ultimately have his last name. It’s not a bad last name. But I feel like another battle has been lost.