25 votes

Why do women still change their names?

36 comments

  1. [6]
    vord
    Link
    A few reasons: Social norms. Got a kid? It'll be a hell of a lot easier if you all have the same last name. Awesome name combos. My wife took on my last name just because it had a nice ring to it,...

    A few reasons:

    • Social norms. Got a kid? It'll be a hell of a lot easier if you all have the same last name.
    • Awesome name combos. My wife took on my last name just because it had a nice ring to it, and hyphenating would have been....terrible. Our respective last names were already too hard to say over phones.
    • Family ties. We're starting a tradition where last name patriarchal (see above), first name is chosen together, and middle name is matriarchal.

    It should be just as acceptable for men to take on the woman's last name or hyphenate these days. My friends missed a perfect opportunity to hyphenate or merge their last names. An animal/color combo akin to Black-Bird.

    18 votes
    1. [5]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      My wife and I considered merging our names, but in the end she decided she'd move her current last name to be a second middle name, and add my last name. So it's not hyphenated and 1,000...

      My wife and I considered merging our names, but in the end she decided she'd move her current last name to be a second middle name, and add my last name. So it's not hyphenated and 1,000 characters long, but she still has it.

      I will say this, though. My wife is also a former teacher. If your last name is different from your child's last name, please don't get indignant when the teacher who has never met you asks which child is yours. I'm pretty sure she's literally had some variation of this conversation more than once:

      Her: Hello, I'm Ms. Joplin
      Parent: I'm Sally Smith
      Her: Which child is yours?
      Parent: (in a disgusted tone) Why Jimmy St. Regent of course, you insensitive clod!

      And how was she supposed to know that?

      15 votes
      1. [2]
        kfwyre
        Link Parent
        Speaking as a teacher, one of the best things parents can do, when introducing themselves on parent-teacher night, is say "I'm/we're [full student name]'s parents". For one, it means I don't have...

        Speaking as a teacher, one of the best things parents can do, when introducing themselves on parent-teacher night, is say "I'm/we're [full student name]'s parents".

        For one, it means I don't have to ask, which is awkward for everyone, but using the full name is super helpful because I invariably have multiple students with the same first name. Saying "I'm Luke's mother" puts me on the right track, but if I have three Lukes that year, and I didn't catch your last name (or if it's different from your child), then I'm sitting there missing every word you're saying to me and instead flipping through my mental Rolodex trying to puzzle out which child it would most likely be from the available options.

        I know it's weird to refer to your own child by first and last name like that, but it's how we teachers first learn all of our kids, so it helps us out a ton.

        One year I actually had an extended conversation with a parent about their child only to realize later I'd mistaken which "Luke" they were parents of. Thankfully it wasn't a bad mix-up, and my beginning of year conversations with parents have a lot of overlap ("nice to meet you", "sweet kid", "looking forward to being their teacher"), so I probably got away with it without the parents knowing.

        12 votes
        1. jgb
          Link Parent
          Marginally related, but my Year 8 Art teacher once asked me to point *myself* out on her list of students at parent-teacher evening....

          Marginally related, but my Year 8 Art teacher once asked me to point *myself* out on her list of students at parent-teacher evening....

          3 votes
      2. [2]
        AugustusFerdinand
        Link Parent
        My wife didn't take my last name for the 50/50 reasoning of she likes her last name (nothing to stop her from continuing to use it in the marriage and is explained further on) and because we were...

        My wife and I considered merging our names, but in the end she decided she'd move her current last name to be a second middle name, and add my last name. So it's not hyphenated and 1,000 characters long, but she still has it.

        My wife didn't take my last name for the 50/50 reasoning of she likes her last name (nothing to stop her from continuing to use it in the marriage and is explained further on) and because we were getting married and buying a house at the same time, not wanting further complications.

        We've discussed that, as I don't care if a woman "takes my name", should she decide she wants to file some paperwork and have her name changed we'll probably do it together with me adding her names and she adding mine. My mother-in-law didn't take her husband's name and so both of their children have both of their last names (be it two last or two middle names), so my wife's name is already four names long and this would just make it a fifth and if we changed names I'd add both of her names to mine so we'd each have five name ridiculously long legal names. Which to us, is hilarious. There's some discussion about adding the new last names into the middle so the current actual last name remains there and minimizes any confusion with various institutions that use just first and last.

        4 votes
        1. joplin
          Link Parent
          Wow! That's kind of cool. I think if it were me, at that point I'd be tempted to just choose a single name like Cher and Sting did.

          Wow! That's kind of cool. I think if it were me, at that point I'd be tempted to just choose a single name like Cher and Sting did.

  2. [7]
    streblo
    Link
    Gender aside, there is a strong pull for a family to have a single last name, both logistically as well as culturally to identify as a family "unit". Not saying that is the correct decision for...

    Gender aside, there is a strong pull for a family to have a single last name, both logistically as well as culturally to identify as a family "unit". Not saying that is the correct decision for everyone but if you decide to have a single last name you have three choices:

    1. someone gives up there last name
    2. hyphenate
    3. create a new last name

    2 is a valid option for some but not for many. 3 is also an option but if you thought agreeing on kids names was hard -- try naming yourselves. Which leaves option 1 as the easiest path -- unfortunately this has historically been primarily a women's role but I think it's becoming more and more common for the man to change his name as well. Cultural norms run deep and change takes time.

    10 votes
    1. [6]
      MonkeyPants
      Link Parent
      30% of American women would disagree with you.

      30% of American women would disagree with you.

      But the data for 2010 to 2013, combined with census data on how many women married each year, suggests that roughly 73.5 percent of women changed their names after marriage during this span, and the share decreased to 70.6 percent in 2013. This number includes both women who took their husbands’ names and women who chose a third option, such as hyphenating their name.

      1. streblo
        Link Parent
        Disagree with what? I'm not putting forward a position here... Also 70% of women to me implies a pretty strong pull but we would also need to see numbers for men as well.

        Disagree with what? I'm not putting forward a position here...

        Also 70% of women to me implies a pretty strong pull but we would also need to see numbers for men as well.

        8 votes
      2. [4]
        tesseractcat
        Link Parent
        I'm confused, how is this refuting their point?

        I'm confused, how is this refuting their point?

        4 votes
        1. [3]
          eve
          Link Parent
          The first point of "there is a strong pull for a family to have a single last name, both logistically as well as culturally to identify as a family 'unit'." in that ~30% of American women DON'T...

          The first point of "there is a strong pull for a family to have a single last name, both logistically as well as culturally to identify as a family 'unit'." in that ~30% of American women DON'T change their name at all when married.

          1 vote
          1. [2]
            streblo
            Link Parent
            I mean, I would argue 70% is a pretty strong "pull".

            I mean, I would argue 70% is a pretty strong "pull".

            10 votes
            1. eve
              Link Parent
              I was just here to clarify.

              I was just here to clarify.

              2 votes
  3. [11]
    pocketry
    Link
    I have friends that both changed their last name to a new hybrid one. As an example, Brown and Johnson could become Browson or Jown. My wife and I considered it for a while, but because I have a...

    I have friends that both changed their last name to a new hybrid one. As an example, Brown and Johnson could become Browson or Jown. My wife and I considered it for a while, but because I have a daughter with my last name from a previous marriage she changed her last name to match us. We think the family name is important and that took priority over other considerations.

    I really hope the hybrid approach takes off. I will definitely be nudging all of my kids down that path when that starting talking about marriage.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      chromakode
      Link Parent
      My wife and I did this. My last name was 'Goodman' and her last name was 'Hart', so we combined them to be 'Goodhart'. We got lucky to have such a simple and cheerful combination, and that nobody...
      • Exemplary

      My wife and I did this. My last name was 'Goodman' and her last name was 'Hart', so we combined them to be 'Goodhart'. We got lucky to have such a simple and cheerful combination, and that nobody in our immediate family raised any objection. I was happy to remove the literal man from my name; I didn't want my children to have a gendered last name while growing up and figuring out their identity.

      It was surprisingly expensive for both of us to change our names in the state of California: hundreds of dollars each, publishing the name change in a local paper, filing court paper... a whole rigamarole. If we'd been smart, we should have had one of us change our names before the marriage so that the other would get the name automatically and for free. We discovered while filing the paperwork that the state in which we got married (Oregon) only allowed specific choices and combinations based on your names for the free name change.

      12 votes
      1. Parliament
        Link Parent
        I love that name combo. My wife and I considered the idea as well, but then she just decided not to change her name at all. I hope you published it in The Diarrhea Times.

        I love that name combo. My wife and I considered the idea as well, but then she just decided not to change her name at all.

        publishing the name change in a local paper

        I hope you published it in The Diarrhea Times.

        2 votes
    2. [4]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. [2]
        Adys
        Link Parent
        How is that any different to the status quo? My first name is Jerome and neither americans nor Brits can even spell that (despite that name existing in english), let alone my very french last...

        How is that any different to the status quo?

        My first name is Jerome and neither americans nor Brits can even spell that (despite that name existing in english), let alone my very french last name. And it's not that much better in french.

        A friend of mine is called Fabien and has the same problem. I won't get into last names out of respect for their privacy but it's even worse and it happens plenty in their native language too.

        If your last name is Smith, good for you (as long as you stay in the anglosphere), but a lot of people have this issue. At Starbucks it's a meme.

        6 votes
        1. [2]
          Comment deleted by author
          Link Parent
          1. Adys
            Link Parent
            How is it unforced? Nobody asked me if I liked the name I was given. Much unlike a name you would choose together as a couple and where you would take these parameters into account...

            How is it unforced? Nobody asked me if I liked the name I was given. Much unlike a name you would choose together as a couple and where you would take these parameters into account...

            3 votes
      2. PendingKetchup
        Link Parent
        Last names are in general weirder and harder to pronounce than first names. Many people you meet seem to have new ones.

        Last names are in general weirder and harder to pronounce than first names. Many people you meet seem to have new ones.

        4 votes
    3. Grzmot
      Link Parent
      Just don't make those nudges to strong, or they'll go against you :^) Jokes aside, it's hard to tell what will be in style in 30 to 40 years. I don't feel either way in particular on this issue,...

      I really hope the hybrid approach takes off. I will definitely be nudging all of my kids down that path when that starting talking about marriage.

      Just don't make those nudges to strong, or they'll go against you :^)

      Jokes aside, it's hard to tell what will be in style in 30 to 40 years. I don't feel either way in particular on this issue, unless I were to marry someone who just has a cool last name that'd fit my first name. I also wouldn't have a problem with my wife taking my name if she wishes to do so. No one is forcing her to change her name, and she can keep her maiden name.

      The hybrid approach also only really works if you're marrying inside a language and not across cultural boundaries, as then you'll be working with names based in different languages which is just going to fuck it up further.

      1 vote
    4. [4]
      wycy
      Link Parent
      Jown 🤢

      Jown 🤢

      15 votes
      1. [2]
        pocketry
        Link Parent
        Haha, yeah that one is pretty bad. I think there is a good solution for any two names though.

        Haha, yeah that one is pretty bad. I think there is a good solution for any two names though.

        3 votes
        1. arp242
          Link Parent
          I kind of like the idea of it, but I've published quite a few things on my current name (articles, software, that sort of stuff) and don't really fancy changing it on account of that. Actually, I...

          I kind of like the idea of it, but I've published quite a few things on my current name (articles, software, that sort of stuff) and don't really fancy changing it on account of that.

          Actually, I remember reading something that this is a reason that women tend to do less well in Academia, since after they marry and change their names it's not always obvious that "Jane Smith" is now "Jane Teller", which affects their publishing record.

          1 vote
  4. [4]
    Don_Camillo
    Link
    Discusions like this always remember me how incredible conservative most americans are, when its about relationships. (and how male tildes is :-/ ) did anybody here even consider takong their...

    Discusions like this always remember me how incredible conservative most americans are, when its about relationships. (and how male tildes is :-/ )

    did anybody here even consider takong their wifes name?

    6 votes
    1. [3]
      HoolaBoola
      Link Parent
      Multiple replies here have stated they considered getting their partner's name. Though I wouldn't say women taking their husbands' last names is a good indicator for how conservative a country is....

      Multiple replies here have stated they considered getting their partner's name.

      Though I wouldn't say women taking their husbands' last names is a good indicator for how conservative a country is. It's a tradition that's quite hard to get rid of partly because, as many have already said, there's no obvious alternative that would apply to everyone.

      6 votes
      1. [2]
        Don_Camillo
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I'm sorry, I did generalise a lot and expressed myself poorly. and it was not my intention to accuse anybody of their choices. do whatever the fuck you want with yourself, i'm the last to judge...

        I'm sorry, I did generalise a lot and expressed myself poorly. and it was not my intention to accuse anybody of their choices. do whatever the fuck you want with yourself, i'm the last to judge :-)

        Its an impression I get when I'm surfing the english speaking web or meeting usamericans while traveling. the conception of what constitues a relationship and whats important for one just seems so "conservative" or "oldschool" in a way that does not happen in my "european" bubble.
        marriage itself seems that way too. why do you need the confirmation of an authority (be it religious or state) to dedicate yourself fully to sombody else. (I get that there are advantages lawvise, but thats not why most people marry)

        and the view that there is no "obvious" alternative to having a family name or worse the mans name, is one of the strongest examples of what gives me that feeling.
        there are actually a lot of examples in other places. e.g. latin america where you get both names or scandinavian tradition which is something completly different again.

        a lot of talk is about seems to be what is practical for teachers, parents, society, but seems to me very monogamous hetero marriage centered. meanig what works most easy in the status quo.

        shoutout to the people merging their names. never heard of that and I love it.

        my intention is to just get rid of family names and let people (kids) decide for themself once they get to a certain age. (or whenewer they want, what does it matter in a digital world)

        edit: is here somebody who took his so's name? :-)

        3 votes
        1. HoolaBoola
          Link Parent
          Nah, I think it was a good, if a bit rough, comment. In general, I do think you are right that the US is quite conservative in the news compared to most other developed countries. Though I believe...

          I'm sorry, I did generalise a lot and expressed myself poorly.

          Nah, I think it was a good, if a bit rough, comment. In general, I do think you are right that the US is quite conservative in the news compared to most other developed countries. Though I believe you yourself are living in a bubble within your country. I know I am. I live in a liberal city in the Northern Europe, so no one would really bat an eye at a man taking his partner's name.

          Even then, almost all of my friends have their dads' names, and most of their moms also took the dad's name. Some moms just didn't change their names at all. Wouldn't say it's a sign of conservativity, it's sadly often just easier that way. That said, it is getting easier and easier to do something else, though our country is kind of restrictive in the way that the children's last name must be one of the parents' last names (no hyphenation etc.)

          The latin american or scandinavian traditions aren't without their faults either, really. LA, I guess it's the one where you have first your mom's or dad's last name and then the other's (I believe in Portugal, for example, it's momsName dadsName, while in Spain it's the other way).

          The problem with that is, it is still patriarchal, the mother's name doesn't go on to the grandchildren. So it's still the dad's name that remains, if a bit longer.

          The scandinavian tradition is the one where each child gets their dad's first name + dötter/son appended, which has many problems of its own. It's not really used anywhere anymore except Iceland, I believe, as the other Nordic countries nowadays use the same tradition that's used in the US

          Also, I'm not sure if my reply makes any sense at all as I'm tired and probably shouldn't even be writing this, so please take no offense if I managed to be rude somewhere (absolutely not meant in that case!)

          3 votes
  5. tomf
    Link
    From a branding perspective and as a divorced man, my ex-wife's photo business had my last name. When we split, she had to rebrand and it felt like it lead to a lot of unnecessarily emotional...

    From a branding perspective and as a divorced man, my ex-wife's photo business had my last name. When we split, she had to rebrand and it felt like it lead to a lot of unnecessarily emotional conversations or unnecessary awkwardness.

    She should have put the business under her maiden name at least, but the ol divorce, as I discovered, was a bit of a surprise to her. :)

    If I ever remarry, I'll be making a strong case against taking my last name (which is very classy.)

    5 votes
  6. [6]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. [4]
      jgb
      Link Parent
      I really don't think a protocol whereby siblings don't share the same surname is a good one. My opinion, which is perhaps a little more conservative than most on Tildes, is that children taking...

      sons getting the father's name and daughters getting the mother's name

      I really don't think a protocol whereby siblings don't share the same surname is a good one.

      My opinion, which is perhaps a little more conservative than most on Tildes, is that children taking the name of their father serves as a modestly effective social contract that marks the responsibility of a father to provide for his children. We know that the vast majority of mothers will care for their children through hell or high water, but fathers are more liable to scarper. I think knowing that a child bears your name is for all but the most amoral men a counterweight against the urge to shirk responsibility.

      I don't think there's anything wrong with women not taking their husband's name, of course. No-one should feel compelled to change their name for any reason, really.

      4 votes
      1. [3]
        joplin
        Link Parent
        I guess you never had older siblings who were a handful. Every teacher I ever had started the year with, "Oh, you must be <older brother's name>'s brother." Me, sheepishly, "Um... yes." as they...

        really don't think a protocol whereby siblings don't share the same surname is a good one.

        I guess you never had older siblings who were a handful. Every teacher I ever had started the year with, "Oh, you must be <older brother's name>'s brother." Me, sheepishly, "Um... yes." as they shake their head and make a groaning noise and move on to the next student.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          HoolaBoola
          Link Parent
          Hehe, for my younger siblings it was the exact opposite, as, for some reason, I tended to be among each teacher's favourite students (not in a way that the teacher would give me special treatment,...

          Hehe, for my younger siblings it was the exact opposite, as, for some reason, I tended to be among each teacher's favourite students (not in a way that the teacher would give me special treatment, but general demeanor). So I guess I raised the bar quite high for my siblings, and the teachers would somewhat expect them to perform as well as I did.

          1 vote
          1. joplin
            Link Parent
            Oh wow, I'm not sure if that's better or worse!

            Oh wow, I'm not sure if that's better or worse!

    2. asteroid
      Link Parent
      That's exactly what one friend did. Daughter got his wife's name, son got his name.

      That's exactly what one friend did. Daughter got his wife's name, son got his name.

      2 votes
  7. mrbig
    Link
    I think changing names is actually not that common in Brazil. I would not do it, nor would I expect my wife to. My parents are divorced and losing a name would mean disrespecting half my heritage.

    I think changing names is actually not that common in Brazil. I would not do it, nor would I expect my wife to.

    My parents are divorced and losing a name would mean disrespecting half my heritage.

    3 votes
  8. Saigot
    Link
    Me and my wife just got married and she intends to change her name. There are a lot of reasons, some rather specific to us and some not so much: Her last name is not her real last name. Due to a...

    Me and my wife just got married and she intends to change her name. There are a lot of reasons, some rather specific to us and some not so much:

    • Her last name is not her real last name. Due to a clerical error her middle name and last name are switched. One way or another she wants that to change. So instead of being "Jane Alice Doe" she is "Jane Doe Alice". She never corrected it because her birth country makes it a logistical nightmare and changing it once she moved would only have made her immigration process harder. By the time she became a citizen she was already too used to the current state of her name to want to change it. However marriage offers a one-time (hopefully ;) ) easy way to change it.
    • she has a bad relationship with her dad and doesn't ever want to use his name
    • her mother remarried (and renamed) while my wife was an adult, so it doesn't serve much purpose to use her maiden name and even less sense to use the stepdad's name
    • I'm white with a white sounding name and she is not. Having a 'white name' gives an unfortunate advantage when looking for jobs. I'm not saying it's right, but it is how it is.
    • Lots of customer service people treat her differently when we share a last name, for instance our phone company will refuse to talk to "Jane Doe" on behalf of "John Smith" but will talk to "Jane Smith". This is kind of a weird security hole, but alas it is what it is. I think this will be even more compounded when there are kids and interacting with teachers.

    FWIW I would have preferred she keep her name, If it weren't for the first 3 reasons she would have preferred she kept her name too. In that scenario any boy-identifying kids would take my last name and any girl-identifying kids would take hers.

    3 votes