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Keeping Your Maiden Name Judgment

Keeping Your Maiden Name Might Spell Judgment Depending Where You Live


Living in a progressive city like New York or San Francisco might give you the impression that fewer women are giving up their maiden names after they say "I do." With a professional career built up, the hassle of paperwork, and emotional ties to your name, for many modern women the change might not be worth it. But in fact, the perception that more women keep their own name is false. Research shows that anywhere from 90 to 98 percent of American women take their husband's name after marriage. And in some places, if you don't, other people will think you are less committed to your marriage.

Pennsylvania State University sociologists looked into how Midwestern attitudes about maiden names compare to those on the East Coast. In the Midwest, only 4.3 percent of women say they want to keep their maiden names, compared to 11.6 percent of women on the East Coast. And the judgment is rising. In 1990, 2.7 percent of students surveyed at Midwestern universities said a woman was less committed to her marriage if she kept her last name. Now that rate has jumped to 10.1 percent. Even so, the women themselves who want to keep their last names say it doesn't reflect their marital commitment.

What do you think about changing your last name after getting married? Do you think of it as a symbol of commitment, or just an inconvenient misogynistic tradition? Would you worry people would judge your decision either way?

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bisou002 bisou002 4 years
I got married last year; It was sad for me to change my last name, but my husband and I had reached a nice compromise about it. See, he was named after his father and grandfather, and always assumed he'd one day have a son that would be the fourth in line. However, I dislike this tradition and find it old-fashioned (not to mention, it's my son, I want some say in his name!). Our compromise was that I would take his name if he would relinquish the dream of naming his hypothetical son after himself.  So we both "gave up" a name in the deal.
lauren lauren 4 years
I think it is totally a choice and I hope people don't really judge the commitment of the marriage based on something like this but I am sure they do...I didn't take my husband's last name, he was fine with that. It is actually sort of fun, when places call him Mr. and use my last name. We are actually debating on taking a whole new last name, so it would be the same but a made up one just for the two of us. Neither one of us are that traditional and I love the idea of starting something new that isn't directly connected to one or the other and entirely our own. Personally I think people should just pick whatever name sounds better.  I wonder if people will judge that as a lack of commitment as well!
dashsuede dashsuede 4 years
 @TheDivineMrsM Why does the woman have to change her name and not the man? Why can't the children have the mother's maiden last name?
dashsuede dashsuede 4 years
I judge women who take their husband's name. Not that harshly, but it just rings too much of women being property given from father to husband. Why can't a man change his name to show that he is committed to the relationship? My mother gave herself her own last name, and me and my brother share it with her.
amber512 amber512 4 years
 @TheDivineMrsM I'm glad that changing your name was right for you.  But some of us don't need the validation of a name change.  "A rose by any other name smells as sweet."  It didn't feel right to me and I stand by my decision.  Thankfully I gave up caring that others might judge me a long time ago.  And I do plan to give future children both my and my husband's last names.  They can choose what they wish to go by.  It is their name after all.  And in the end it's the person who has to get called by it that can decide how it makes them feel.
TheDivineMrsM TheDivineMrsM 4 years
I'm only 25, so not from another generation, and I believe that a woman should change her name to her husband's family name. Sure, I can see the argument for professional benefits but wouldn't it be more important to most women to share the same family name as their children? If I meet a woman and she has a different last name I find it odd and am a bit put off by it, like she prefers to keep herself seperate from her husband. Especially if you are married (and keep your maiden name) then give your children hyphenated names it just makes me think you had your kids out of wedlock, not that you are progressive. Not trying to attack anyone - just how I perceive/judge women who choose that path.   I was a bit nervous about changing my name, but I am so glad that I did now. In my opinion, it was another way that I was able to feel bonded to my husband and become a family of just us two.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 4 years
I'm planning on keeping my name when I marry. My boyfriend doen't mind but he told me his family will put a lot of pressure on me to take his name. Apparently tradition is more important then anything else..
inkyeagle inkyeagle 4 years
I know a lot of girls who don't want to change their last name because they want consistency for career purposes. For example, if you've published academic papers under your own name and are known to the industry by that name, changing your name is a big decision.
amber512 amber512 4 years
People have asked me about it before, but mostly just in a curious way . Although I have had women say "oh my husband would have NEVER let me do that."  Which is weird to me.  My husband doesn't care either way.  Whether I continue to keep my own or ever decided to add his too, he's just fine with me.
Go2Girl Go2Girl 4 years
Just headed to City Hall yesterday with Aaron Moser to apply for our marriage license. Changing my last name was a big decision, especially since I don't have any brothers. However, I acquired more personality to my birth name and now have two middle names, w00t! 
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