When my baby mama and I produced offspring, we shoved our last names together (no hyphen, the first letter of mine was the last of hers) to make a new name.

That's how you make a family identity, not by shoving the woman into the man's family.
if you're last name was something like Hogg or Kuntz you'd consider it.
I think they should flip a coin when they get married: heads, she takes his name, tails he takes hers.

Oh wait, all the men are against it?
My cousin's wife didn't take his last name when they got married in the late 90s. Hoo-boy did that cause a rift when grandma asked everyone at the breakfast table (cousin and fiancee were not there) what the point of getting married was if the woman didn't take the husband's last name. Aunt and uncle were not amused.
When I discussed it with my fiance, I told her I thought she should keep her last name. I was surprised as all hell to find out that she was looking forward to being Mrs. Hernandez. Also, at one point Mr. Poe suggested that I take her last name, because then my name would sound cooler. I asked her about it, and she said hell no. Can there be a feminist exemption for women who want to change just because they hate their last names?
My ex-wife changed her name when we got married. I would have been cool with it either way. But what I'd really like to know is why the hell she kept the name after the divorce.

What century is this? They think women should be REQUIRED to change their names? To what, reflect new ownership?!

I never considered it, not for a second. a) it's my NAME. That's who I AM. and b) I'm lazy. Changing your name takes a lot of fucking work. And why does the woman always have to be the one to do it?
I took my husbands name for a lot of reasons:

1)I was proud to be his wife
2)Hyphens annoy me
3)It represented a change from my past to my future
4)I like Russell better than my old last name

Ironically..I am so lazy that even though we've been married almost 3 years.. only 1/2 of my IDs have been switched over..whoops
I'm with you, Gillian. I have an ungraceful last name but I didn't consider taking my husband's. The tradition stems from not so long ago when the woman became part of her husband's estate at marriage (ownership transferred from father to husband). Eww.
One oft he first conversations I had with my fiancee was about how I thought women should not have to change their names at marriage - I always thought it was an outdated bigoted belief. 15 days to wedding day and she's taking my name - not that she likes it, she's not stoked about having the initials RR instead of RB - but she doesn't want to have a different last name to any kids we may have.
Even though I have a difficult last name to pronounce and spell, and even though I'm a teacher and kids struggle with pronouncing and spelling it, I'm always proud to tell them I kept my original last name when I got married. When they ask me why I didn't change it, I tell them the truth: It is my name and I like it.
I didn't expect my wife to change her name when we got married because
1. She's not my property
2. There is no way in hell I would change my name for her (I really love my last name)

She says she'll change it when the bean is born, but I secretly doubt her.
I'm gay, and when we got married, my husband changed his name and took mine. It wasn't just that we were creating a family unit, but also that he had a lot of distaste for his father, who walked out on his family when he was a year old. His mother had remarried, his sisters had married, and his brother shunned him for being gay, so the two people he was related to with that name were douches. He found it liberating. It helps that my last name is cool.
My wife kept her name when we got married, and we agreed that our kids would take gender-matched last names. As it turned out, our boy has my last name, and our daughter has hers.

I somehow doubt the kids are going to wonder whether we’re really a family.
I like my wife's name just the way it is/was. That's part of the whole package that attracted me to her in the first place.

After close to 20 years though my mother in-law still sends all mail to our house as if my wife changed her name.
@9..I get annoyed with "feminist" women who make this argument. Using the same logic, you could say wearing an engagement ring brands a woman as a mans property (the guy doesn't wear a ring until after the ceremony..yet the woman wears a ring showing that she is "taken" while they are engaged).
Still, most "feminist" women have no problem flashing the engagement ring without feeling "owned" is this different from the name thing, really?
I know two couples where, upon marriage, both bride and groom changed their names to something different altogether.
1. None of my "property" has my last fucking name either. I don't give "property" names.

2. Wife doesn't want to have different last name from children? She doesn't have to--they can have her last name. Oh wait, the men are getting upset again.
I like the idea of being the "so-and-sos" but I was 32 when I married and my identity was too wrapped up in my name by then. My husband was an established artist so needed to keep his name, so we have our own names and it's no biggie. My friends are about half and half on this issue also, funnily not depending on whether they are reproducing at all.
I know that the tradition of name changing is fraught, but I think we've come to a time when this is an area where women have more freedom than men. We can change or not; it's a lot weirder for a man to change his name for any reason than for a woman to not change her name. I like the idea that if I'd felt weighed down by my name I could take another, any other, still could at any time.
I think if any last names are to be changed, it should affect both parties to create a new family unit. If i do get maried and my partner doesn't want to change theirs, that's also cool but you bet mine will not stay the same nor will I take theirs.
When I got married a couple years ago, I never considered asking my wife to take my last name. Not that there would be anything wrong with that - Her original just sounds better for her.

This year, however, an idea suddenly occurred to me. Now I'm thinking of taking her last name to use as an occasional penname.
I didn't take my husband's name when we got married. I don't have any problems with anyone else doing so, but it wasn't right for me. It wasn't a feminist statement, really, it just sort of seemed silly and pointless. I have no idea what we'll do when/if we have kids though...
My brother and sister-in-law both changed their names when they married.

That worked fine.
I changed my last name when I got married, dropping my middle name and keeping my original name that way. I like having the same last name as my husband, but I hate the "Mr. and Mrs. Husband's Name". That seems to negate my individual existence more than most.
This just the sort of dumb thing they shouldn't even poll about, because it gets everyone worked up.

Even in the dark ages of the early 20th Century (and undoubtedly before that, in certain instances) there were women who didn't take their husband's names, for a variety of reasons. It may have raised a few eyebrows, but no one really cared then, so why even ask about it now? It's like doing a poll on whether people approve of "inter-denominational dating" or whether they think mixed race babies should be called "Mullatos" or just "high yellow"


I know a couple that rock-paper-scissored for the last name at the alter. He lost and took her name.

When I married my wife, I married her for who she was, identity included. We like to have our autonomous identities not absorbed into some abstract concept like a family or a marriage. Legally, it wasn't the PITA it might have been 40 years ago. For us, it was more annoying having to tell friends and family who knew her for all these years her name was actually still the same one they already knew. I can only imagine what our friend who took his wife's name had to go through :).

When our child was born, we gave her the last name we both hated least. It happened to be my name. It wasn't because I was the "Man Of The House" or any horse shit like that.
I'm not planning on getting married any time soon but I won't be changing my name. I like my name. I have a very uncommon last name and my father, sister, and I are the only ones left. Interestingly, my father calls himself a "radical feminist" and has told me that I must keep my name when I get married and give my kids my name.
When i got married, my wife and i took both our last names, wrote all the letters down on little pieces of paper and threw them in a hat. We drew out each letter and in the order they were removed we spelled out our new last name. Our new last name is now: Ryglafraanzo
Whatever. I just despise hyphenated names. Silly and pretentious. Doesn't sound like a family. It sounds like a department store: Cain-Sloan, Neiman-Marcus, Dayton-Hudson.
I have known a few couples who came up with brand new last names when they got married, which is kind of cool. (one couple in particular created a name based on an animal they are both fond of)
I took my husband's name as I wasn't terribly fond of my surname. Much of it was out of extreme disdain for my estranged Father -who actually picked that particular surname in his twenties. There is kind of a history of people in my family changing their surnames for all kinds of entertaining reasons.
Though taking my husband's name has created some minor hilarity when you match it with my first name. I like to think of it as a good conversation piece.

It is a bit wack-a-doo to think that many people think it should be a legal requirement for ladies to take their husband's names upon getting marriage. One of the delightful aspects of feminism is that a person is free to make choices about how the live their life -right down to having the surname of their choice.
I'd be proud to be Mrs Jon Hamm...

or, even Michael Strange-Hamm
Why this is anyone else's business is a mystery to me.
When I got hitched, my ex hyphenated. I always liked her last name and thought she should just keep it. We stayed married for years after we split for insurance reasons. By the time we finally signed the papers she was moving out of town to avoid a ex boyfriend/stocker. She decided to drop her name (which she had been using since we split) and kept mine to make her harder to track down.
Mrs. Fnarf wasn't too happy about taking the name "Mrs. Fnarf", but she sucked it up and did it anyways, because I AM THE BOSS.

No, wait, she not.

Which, since our wedding certificate is buried in a file somewhere, raises an interesting question about the, er, sanctity of marriage. If I can avail myself of some of that sanctity just by saying "but we're married" even though our last names are different, and no one ever wants to see, you know, PROOF, or anything, what's to stop us from lying about it? Maybe there IS no Mrs. Fnarf, and she's just some woman I'm trying to check into the motel with?
Fnarf, I won't believe a word of it until WE SEE THE LONG-FORM CERTIFICATE!! Oh sorry, wrong topic...

@29, have you ever seen Uncle Buck?
When my wife confirmed during our engagement that she was keeping her name (no surprise here) I told her that's good, because I think it's stupid for women to change their names when they get married, and if she wanted to there's no way I could stop her.

Our daughter has my last name, mostly because the only in-law who cares is my dad. So the only way the name survives another generation is for my daughter to keep her last name if/when she gets married.
My wife and I threatened to hyphenate our names when we got married. Since her name is already so long that no form can contain it, and both of us have strange last names that nobody knows how to pronounce, we got great glee over the prospect of confusing people even more. We still giggle over the thought from time to time.

Ultimately we kept our own names. The reason was a mixture of: we both have professional recognition with our names; we couldn't think of an exciting alternative; most importantly, we couldn't really think of a compelling reason to change anything.
As the owner of a penis and 2 testicles, I've always viewed the issue thusly: I'm not changing my name or hyphenating shit, so why would I expect anyone else to do the same? And to be honest, I find it hard to not think less of my female friends who change their name upon getting married. It's a held over tradition from when marriage was all about property ownership.
I now have two last names, without a hyphen. My maiden name is rare, and supposedly I'm genetically related to everyone on the planet who shares it, so I kept it. Adding the husband's last name made it easier when lil kim in portland 1 & 2 came along, for boring practical reasons. I hate the Mrs., because it is a condensed form of Mr.'s, most people know me as either Kim, Ms. Kim or Kimi or Kimmie.


It makes perfect sense to me why she'd keep the last name. It's a sign that although the relationship didn't make it to the aspired morbid measure of success, that it was successful none the less.
keeping names like Anderson Johnson Davidson Williamson Jefferson Thomson Johnson

= very feminist.

The people who think that a woman should be legally required to take her husband's name are full of shit. Families can lobby for it if they want, but ultimately it is up to the couple to decide what they want to do about names when they get married.

Besides, whether to change surnames at marriage shouldn't have to be so controversial. It's only 1/2 to 1/4 (or less, if you had weird parents) of your full name anyway, which is a small part of your total identity. I'd say that your identity changes more just by getting married than it does by changing your last name.
My husband didn't care, but I hyphenated my last name. So it works because some of my things are still in my maiden name and my id shows both last names. Plus, my maiden name rhymes with a bodily function, so I was kinda happy to change it. When we have kids, they will take his last name. Frankly, I don't care if people call me by his last name or by my hyphenated name.
I'm a woman born with a name. A man is born with a name. Yet, I get married and I'm supposed to lose my name and family identity? Screw that.

I had considered a hyphen for our names but we have long last names (and how would that be for the kids).

I did consider a new name that co-joined our names (hence Westello - kind of WASPy yet ethnic) but my husband said nah.

So we have different last names. Twenty-five years later, it still works. (Although my mom still addresses letters to me with my husband's last name. Sigh.)
bitch better be changing her name!!! I didn't give her dad those handsome goats and that fine fine poultry for nuthin. shit.

Funny enough, this is the first place I've lived in where a large segment of the female population wouldn't automatically change their surname once married, or at least tacked it onto their maiden name with a hyphen. Everyone I've known everywhere else I've lived did it without a second thought. If anything, I'm surprised the number of those who don't is as high as 12%. It's a worldwide tradition that even the law backs. Since moving here, I've not only run into a fairer share of those who don't but have even run into couples who adopt both surnames. Seattle's like that, to call this sort of traditional practice into question, and that IMO isn't a bad thing at all.

As for legally requiring it, well... that's obviously not necessary.
I told my missus: feel free to keep the last name honey, just don't ditch the blowjobs after we get married.

20 yrs later she has my name AND I get my blowjobs. LOVE!
@34 - I know, you guys really confused Dawn when she was patrolling for hookers on Aurora - she thought you guys weren't married.

Bygones. And I'll have you know I dropped one hyphen when I moved back to America, so stop with all the hyphen hating, you meanies.
It's baffling how many woman in 2009 take the man's name—although I can understand if they really hate their family, their past, or their father's name, and want to break from it. In other cases I think the message a woman sends by doing so is just kowtowing to misogyny and bigotry (including "making it easier for the kids" or for family unity. Why can't the kid's have her name?) . Women won't be taken seriously until the develop their own identities exclusive to men, including owning their own histories rather than adopting a man's.

I forget which 70s feminist said: "Of course I'm keeping my own name. He's marrying me, not adopting me." I feel the same way. Taking his name signifies you as his property—although no longer literally (though it was so a short time ago), but certainly does so socially and psychologically.

@10 No judgment here, but I do find it interesting that you think it's outdated and bigoted for a woman to take a man's name but then go on to say "she's not stoked about having the initials RR… but she doesn't want to have a different last name to any kids we may have."

Why can't your children have her name in that case? Or is that going too far?

When my wife and I got married I never pressured her to take my last name; my older sister didn't change her name so I was already used to the concept. Anyway, my wife decided to keep her last name as a middle name and then take my last name. Well, that caused problems because legally, at the time of marriage, she could either keep her name unchanged, hyphenate, or take my name and drop hers but NOT just add my last name, unhyphenated, to hers. So she had to have a legal name change after the wedding to get what she wanted, and pay the court fee to do so.

That said, I don't know why people are surprised by the poll results. Get out of the urban core and most people are pretty traditional.
"It's baffling how many woman in 2009 take the man's name"

What's baffling is the only people who ever said anything about my wife's last name (10 yrs with hers, 10 yrs with mine: changed after kids) were angry feminists. MY old fashioned, Republican mom didn't say a peep for 10 yrs.

Move to Seattle though and the womyn are up in arms (which, btw, they need to shave under occassionally). Of course, these also look like the kind of womyn who don't give blow jobs either.

Thank God I married a smart, hard working, successful, independent Asian-american woman with none of these stupid hangups.
I didn't change my name because it's my name. It seems weird to me to have someone else's. My daughter has my husband's last name because it seemed less akward at the time.

We considered all changing our last name to "Awesome" but the idea never took off.
Couple of other points....

I always found it ironic when self-identified feminists are insistent upon keeping the name that was passed down by their fathers. Making up a new name makes more sense to me.

5280, I used to work with a divorce woman who kept her ex-husband's name. It was because her maiden name was Fish. What was your ex's last name? (You don't have to answer, just a possible insight for you to consider.)
Matt @49: That reminds me of a funny anecdote. We didn't exactly do things by the book either when we got married. When I went to the Denver Clerk & Recorder's office to record the marriage certificate, they gave me all kinds of shit about it. Right up until I pointed out the signature on the certificate, which happened to belong to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Funny how there were no more problems after that.
There was an interesting discussion of this same topic over at The Pursuit of Harpyness this week. That one and this one prove to me that the name question is very loaded for many of us, either to keep or to change. So since feminism=choice, I support whatever people choose to do for whatever reasons they choose to do it.
As a teacher, I encounter many kids with hyphenated last names, born of maiden-name-retaining mothers.

Ironically, many children in this demographic have customized first names, and therefore rarely need to be identified by their last names. (When you have never even heard of another person named "Shade" or "Sultan," why should you be required to also write out your complicated last last on your homework? It strikes them as pedantry.)

I think the ultimate test of maiden name retention comes when two hyphenate children have children of their own. Eventually, some names will get dropped, regardless of politics. I'd be interested in a study that analyzes which names are retained by subsequent generations.
Ha! Here's one for you. I kept my own last name when I married, (in 1984) as did my husband. When our son was about 15 or 16 he decided to change his first and last name. At first we tried to suggest other family names that he might consider, but he had one that he liked, so son took my husbands' last name as his first and chose a totally new last name. Now all 3 of us have different last names.
hubs and i both changed our names to pixel. i love the name, hated my maiden name, hubs hated his name too, it was a fantastic way to mark the creation of a new unit, a new family, a new step in our lives together. we saw it as a creative act more than anything, a chance to express ourselves further than just expressing our love in front of all our friends and family.

we're not having kids, hubs was the last male heir of his name, too bad so sad.
We're a lesbian couple and we got married last year in CA. We decided to change our names instead of hyphenating. We only did this, because we thought that if our kid ever met another kid with a hyphenated name it could turn into an ordeal. So we decided to combine our last names. We haven't done it yet, but we will do it, because we want to have one family name.
@ 56, I can top that. I have a female friend who had her first child at 19 when she was unmarried and her second at 23 when she was married (not the same father). She divorced and took back her maiden name, but both kids have their fathers' names. She has a longtime live-in boyfriend; not married. HE has two kids by different women who each have their mothers' names. SO.... when BF's kids come to visit, you have a house with 6 people, all family (not legally but so what), who all have different surnames.

My friend's oldest girl, now 18, has her own daughter, but I don't know whose name she got.
I've only recently gotten old enough to personally even start thinking about marrying (24) but it's just always seemed logical to me to keep my name. I mean, in this day and age, we should be figuring out why women do change their names, and not why they don't.

I sometimes think my last name sounds silly, but seriously? I wouldn't change it. No matter what, it's not my name and there's no reason for me to have it except I happen to be in love with someone who has it. It's my parents' name (originally my father's) and I think it's a bit of an insult to change it.

Children are not a good reason either for changing my name. How come it has to be the father's name? I would never argue that it should be the mother by default either (although seriously, I think she has the better argument) but why doesn't she get a say at all?

The main thing that bugs me about many of these feminist issues isn't that women are being oppressed or owned or whatever. It's that a lot of the time people aren't thinking about these actions. They do it automatically, then justify it retroactively (often with the lame "it's tradition"), and that's intellectually dangerous.

I just want people to think about the choices and then choose one for a good reason. If you want to change your name for a reason you sincerely believe in, in my feminist eyes it's just as good as someone who stridently keeps their name.

For the record, if I marry, I'm keeping my name. If I have kids, we're flipping coins or pre-assigning names by gender.

@52: It's not my parents' fault that there wasn't really any notion of naming children with their mother's name. I'd still keep it because (1) my father is my father and he isn't evil just because he's a man and (2) it's still a family name.
I didn't take my husband's name when I got married. Largely for logistical reasons; he's Slovak, and the men and women in his family have different endings on their last names. It would have been weird to him and his family if I took the masculine version of the name, but I didn't want to have a different last name from him and have to explain that. Plus it was an accented name, and a pain in the ass to spell in English. I didn't see the point in dealing with all of that.

If I ever get married again, I might change my name. I like the idea of a family unit, and shared names signify that.
Our family tradition was the Ladies last name became her middle name.

So if Jane Elizabeth Smith married a man with the last name Jones, her new name would be Jane Smith Jones. This was pretty common in America I think up to the 50's.
@16 correct that wedding rings are a symbol of the woman being bought. that's why i made it clear i didn't want one when i got married. just plain matching bands for the both of us. before we got married, when people found out we were engaged, they always looked at my hand and asked why i didn't have a ring. (don't even get me started on the white wedding dress and the sexist importance of female virginity...)

and then my husband got shit for having a wife he couldn't "get" to take his name. uggh.

i have actually been really shocked by the number of my independent, liberal, career-having female friends that have huge rocks and have changed their names.

w/different names, people assume we're not married. annoying but worth it. i actually even like his name better, but the principle is worth standing up for.
@16 "fuckoff"
Matt @ 49,

Was that in Denver? I had no problem adding a legal second last name in LA, and when I moved to Portland they didn't blink. Now, I have four total names, and it took forever and a day to sign all our house refinance documents.
My mother is still angry that she gave in and changed her name when she married my dad back in 1973. She was 20 years old, her mom had just died, and she lacked the strength to fight with her grandmother and my dad's mother ( my dad supported my mom's choice). What I learned from my mom is that women need to make the decision that works for them and other people should stay out of it.

The choice about names seems to be determined by geography and education, in my experience. About half my married friends in Seattle kept their names. Here in Wyoming, the only women I've met who kept their names moved here from urban areas and all of them have graduate degrees. I'm keeping my own name and if I have kids, I'll give them their dad's last name. That tradition actually makes sense to me. It's generally not a question who a baby's mother is. Parents give the child the father's name to claim paternity.
@ 65, I'm not sure... We got married in Denver because all our relatives lived here (this was while we were living in Seattle). I think it was Colorado law, but my wife did the name change in Seattle.
And we wonder why the breakdown of the traditional family unit is causing increased problems in society. Having a common name gives a family a bond... think of like a coat of arms to be proud of. Having that identity keeps the family bond stronger, and hence likely for all involved to want to work harder at keeping that identity. When everyone has a different name, you lose that common bond.

I realize it goes much deeper into other variables than something so simplistic has having a common name, but there is something to this theory.

It figures that lots of hipsters who don't come from traditionally strong family units, would be so indifferent or adamant about the same last name. Something to consider that the average person on this forum doesn't represent mainstream society....

@45 FTW.

The groupthink on this forum is quite hilarious on some topics.
Thanks, Matt. I was just curious. I was willing to do the name change, but it was the DMV in LA that insisted that I do it the way I did. Perhaps, they knew what a pain I can be and wanted to keep tabs on me? We guitar playing, science geeks, can be hell on wheels when we wish. ;)

In many cultures, for example, China, women do not take their husbands last name. Taking one's spouses last name is likely a Euro centric tradition. One could argue that the Chinese have stronger family bonds, then we in the US have.
my wife kept her name as any woman should
@68, I don't know what you mean by "traditionally strong family unit," but my parents both came from blue-collar families, married young, and are still together 36 years later. I had a happy childhood on a cul de sac in the 'burbs. My parents are kind of moderate politically, go to church, and are not at all hipsters. Pretty mainstream, if you ask me. They also raised me to think for myself and are happy that I do so.
@68. Oh, please. I grew up in small town USA, with a mom and a dad who've been happily married 40 years now. Not changing my name had nothing to do with coming from a traditionally strong family unit or not (my parents did, however, teacher me to be independent and think for myself -- not very "traditional" I suppose).

And it's just plain idiocy to think that a family with different last names couldn't possibly be as bonded to one another as a family with the same name.

People are going to have all kinds of reasons for changing or not changing their names -- they should make the choice that works for them and everyone else should shut the hell up.
@68: breakdown of the traditional family unit?

sure, yeah, like people with a coat of arms never had any illigitmate children, they were some paragons of virtue there, yup.

god yer a dumbass.
no, really @ 68 has to be a contender for most boneheaded stupid slog comment ever.

the people/families who have or have historically had a coat of arms are among the most vile, deplorable human beings ever. full stop. and as far as family values, oh yeah, lets look to them, they never got any annulments, divorces, or started any wars over bullshit family alliances.

so @ 68, man, just stfu about crap you know nothing about.
I took my husband's last name for a few reasons, the most immediate being the desire to dissociate myself from my father, who I can't stand. Additionally, I just hated my original last name, and probably would have changed it sooner than later had I remained single.

I don't feel like my birth name was a piece of my identity that I abandoned, I feel like it was an albatross that I cast off my neck. I'm still the same person, but with a name I like. Politics had nothing to do with it.
Is it awful to base my opinion on aesthetics?

No sane person would combine my girlfriend's first name and my last name. It would sound like a mouthful of mud. If she wanted the same name (I know she doesn't), I'd rather take hers... Her parents had the same last name, but that's a convenience not everyone can count on.

@68 - Never have I seen a more appropriate opportunity to use the word "asshat"
@57 I totally read about your wedding on OBB, and yours was the first example I thought of when I saw this topic!

Future boy and I are going to have a catfight to establish last name dominance. Hairpulling encouraged.
Thank you, Reality Check, for introducing some sobriety into this thing. Having the same last name unifies the family and simplifies the naming of the children. Favoring the MAN'S last name just further simplifies it. It is a matter of tradition. Sure, perhaps it was a sexist relic from the past, but now it's just tradition, and tradition has a way of simplifying the present. Gillian, your name might have served you well, but your obstinacy only complicates things that don't require complication. There is no longer any sexism in changing your name. It's just tradition. Man up.
Married 22 years with different names--oh, and we adopted two kids, siblings, from foster care, who were old enough to choose to keep their names by the time the official adoption came through. I'm pretty sure we have more family values than about 75% of the people who need to bow to the patriarchal name 'tradition.' As to the fragile man who needs his name plastered on the birth certificate to reassure his poor ego that the children are "really his"...?

This is why blue states have a lower divorce rate than 'family values' red states.
My father-in-law bullied my doctor sister-in-law into changing her name years after the I told him that I would not be changing my name, unless I chose to, and then only to a name that sounded good to me. He was shocked that I could choose a name other than his.

In fact, the women of my family for 3 generations have chosen to keep their names, mainly because we are independent types who have lots of degrees and professional licenses by the time we decide to "settle down".

And most of the people I'm related to have a wide variety of names involved in each family, from Adams to Gonzalez to Pagenkopf to Friedli, for reasons ranging from personal choice to divorce, death, and plain old laziness. Your name has nothing to do with your family stability, but it has everything to do with identity.
The point is that men and women can do what they want when they marry each other--changing names completely, not changing, make something new up, whatever. However, people need to consider that not everyone is going to be OK with whatever choice is made--the couple has to prepare for harpies all over the spectrum who won't be happy no matter what. If you can't handle a cousin or grandma being pissy about something in your marriage, you're not ready to get married.

I come from a blue state, the product of college- and grad school-educated parents, and I hold several degrees. I still changed my name to my husband's when we got married. It was for the sake of the "future kids" because there won't be any. It's because my family name was West, and if you append that onto any other name, you get something that sounds like a retirement home or a suburb.
I like Marilyn vos Savant's suggestion. The man keeps his name. The woman keeps hers. When the children are born, the girls have their mother's last name and the boys have their father's. That way, both last names are passed down through the ages.

"@9..I get annoyed with "feminist" women who make this argument. Using the same logic, you could say wearing an engagement ring brands a woman as a mans property (the guy doesn't wear a ring until after the ceremony..yet the woman wears a ring showing that she is "taken" while they are engaged).
Still, most "feminist" women have no problem flashing the engagement ring without feeling "owned" is this different from the name thing, really?
Posted by julie russell "

In response to this woman, I am a feminist who is appalled by my friends who say they are feminists and yet absolutely expect the man (or the butch) to pay on dates. Somehow this makes him (or her) a 'gentleman'. I didn't know that about the engagement rings but it does seem unfair.

I'm for equality, actual equality which means women's names are not worth less than men's. I understand women change their names for all sorts of other reasons, but I do think there is societal pressure to do so.

My mom kept her name and me and my sister have my Dad's last name.

If I had it my way, I would do it Marilyn vos Savant's way though, since I'm a lesbian, I would base it not on gender but on who birthed the children. My girlfriend doesn't like the idea, however. In her mind, a family should have the same surname. Well, I grew up having a different last name from my mother and don't think it affected me badly in the least.

It did contribute to me becoming a feminist, a fact I'm very glad about.

Oh, and to the person who said they don't understand women who get up in arms about keeping their father's name. It also happens to be my name. This isn't a man-hating thing. This is an identity thing. This is a connection to my past. I want to keep that and pass it onto my kids.

So, if me and the g.f. go the kids route we'll probably combine our last names to make the kids' last names. I like Dan Savage's solution, though, if we do open adoption.

Sorry for the long post.
Felt I had to respond to #68 as I probably, gasp!, fit into the hipster category.

My parents were together from 21 and 22 up until my father's death, for 35 years. They were very much equals and loved each other so much.
After our wedding, I added my wife's last name to my own. So now my birth-last name is a middle name. I like the idea of "gender-lineal" inheritance of a last name. But that may not work in the event a family has only one child, if the goal is to pass on both parents' last names. Anyway, I don't know of many other men like me who took their wive's last names. But there are cultural antecedents, such as the Iriquois tradition of a husband joining his wife's family upon marriage.
My wife and I both adopted a hyphenated last name using both of our "maiden" names. I've regretted it ever since.
@3 "I think they should flip a coin when they get married: heads, she takes his name, tails he takes hers. Oh wait, all the men are against it?"

Brrrrrrmpt, wrong. I looked into changing my last name and taking my wife's name when we got married. The reason I didn't? B/c they were going to charge me $500 to do so and that's $500 we don't have. I was thinking about filing a discrimination lawsuit but the rigors of grad school sort of put the kibosh on that. We also looked into fusing our last names but ran into the same problem; she got it for free but I had to pay $500.
@70 "In many cultures, for example, China, women do not take their husbands last name."

It's really interesting, I just found out that in Puerto Rico it's illegal to change your last name (in all circumstances) so you couldn't do it even if you wanted to. They have an interesting system there, when you get married you keep your last names and then the kids fuse the last names. Theoretically your last name stretches back into infinity covering all your past relatives and acting as a family tree but for practical reasons they stop reciting it at 3 or four last names.
@64..why because you are a hypocrite who wants do apply feminist principles only as they fit for you?
Typical...and pretty funny
@ husband has a joke for you:
How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?

1 to screw in the lightbulb and 1 to suck my dick:)
@67 (which is myself, I guess) Scratch that, I just re-looked into it and it seems that everyone has to pay. Still sucks though.
Oops again, I meant @87.
If your existing last name when you marry is your father's last name (and especially if your mother took his last name when they married) then I figure that going out of your way to keep your last name is just keeping your *father's* name, which is still patriarchal at its core.

The only way to use the "what to do with the last names" issue when you get married to make a statement about equality is to pick a new last name and have both people getting married change their existing last names to the new last name. Even hyphenation (if both parties take the hyphenated name) doesn't get the job done, because that's still your dad's name you're keeping, and then there's the issue of what order to put the hyphenated names in.

We didn't come up with a new last name that both of us would take (changing a man's name after marriage is a much bigger, more time-consuming, and more expensive deal than a woman changing her name after marriage, I suppose because it's not enough of a "norm" for them to consider it a special case) so I just went ahead and took his last name. I don't see the particular difference in keeping my father's last name or taking his father's last name. Neither of them represented a female line in any way, and having the same last name is simpler for so many mundane reasons. People who suggest this makes me anti-feminist had better be braced for a fight, or at least a nasty look.
@93 - Two things. First, you don't have to "go out of your way to keep your last name" when you get married. No action was required to keep my name when I married. I would have had to "go out of my way" to change it.

Second - I have never seen my last name as being my father's name. It is my name, the name I've had my whole life. In the same way, my husband views his name as his name, not his father's. His father was somewhat of a deadbeat dad and hasn't been in his life for some time. So, initially, when I was thinking about whether to change my name, I though, why would I change my name to his father's name? But, he doesn't see his name as his father's at all.

Many people I know (myself included) who didn't change their name, weren't trying to make some statement of feminist equality. My name was my name, and I couldn't think of any good reason to change it.
Between the lesbian and pagan communities around here in which complete name changes are a regular occurrence* I don't see a problem with taking one name, both names or inventing an entirely new name for an identity. Myself, my surname is so unique that my father and I are the only ones in California, which makes me a tad too easily traceable in this era. It's a regular challenge not only to remember to call your old friend Patricia Schmuley as Morgana Labiablossom, but to be able to do so with a straight face.

* Clarification: single individuals may only change names once or twice in their lives, but I am frequently tasked to adjust to calling one associate or another by their new name.

Reality Check @68 perhaps you'd like to share with the class exactly which problems you associate with the breakdown of the traditional family unit; somehow even without knowing which, I wager these societal issues probably have more complicated paths of causation than you surmise.

But the collapse of the traditional family unit, (and the tradition of regarding family as sacred) occurred during the industrial age when children from agrarian families splintered off to the cities to seek their fortunes in factories. Before then, relations from your marital families weren't differentiated as in-laws; you were all one big happy clan, and if your brother-by-marriage, a known cheat and liar, was caught in a dispute with an allied clan, you were obligated to take up arms by his side. Feuds lasting centuries were started that way.

You can relax, though, I'm sure any day now, the whole of the United States will see the error of its hippy ways, revert the status of women back to chattel, burn down our libraries and start taking our Sunday sermons in Latin.

Good times.
Not that it matters, but here is a flow chart illustrating how I decided to change my name when I got married:

I didn't want any kids we had to have only one of our names
any hyphenated version of both our names would sound ridiculous, in our case
I think making up names is silly (personal preference)
it's far easier legally, if only one partner is to change, for it to be the woman
My new initials are C.C.C., which I think is awesome.
My wife and I have been married 4 years, and due to our egalitarian sensibilities we decided to hyphenate. Now our ill-thought last name is Herrington-Shaner. Those 16 digits have caused us alot of grief...most credit cards and airline reservations etc...don't allow that many characters, and we've been stopped through airline security and questioned about our names. Oh, and it's quite tedious spelling it out on the phone to outsourced call centers...

If only we'd taken a chill pill and kept our own last names!
I'm amazed the number of women who take their husbands' names is so high. My social circles are such that I can only think of one acquaintance in Seattle besides myself that has changed her name.

I wouldn't have considered changing mine, except that my last name is awkward, difficult to pronounce, and ugly, and I had aspirations that would have been greatly enabled by having a nice normal name. So I changed it.

Three years later I was divorced and had to go through the whole process AGAIN just to get my weird, ugly name back. It was an enormous pain in the ass, and I found the process of trying to get people to use my old name sort of humiliating.

In retrospect, changing my name was one of the stupidest decisions I've ever made. I would not recommend it. (I would, however, have adopted a neat-o stage name years ago if I had it to do over again...)
Insensitive jokes aside, people should do what works for them.

In college I identified myself as a The Second Sex...worshipped Simone de Beauvior, etc. My husband INSISTED I post that crass joke... couldn't help myself.

Still the hypocrisy is annoying, but whatev.
My friend just got married and he and his wife both changed their names to their names combined with a hyphen.

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