With this Name, I Thee Wed


This weekend, I traveled to the ancestral home (to use one of my favorite FSP phrases) to attend the first nuptials of this year's blissful wedding season. The days are getting longer, the flowers are blooming, and love is in the air. I can barely contain my excitement.

Now is the time that a woman marries a man, and (almost) everyone assumes that she will take her husband's last name. This phenomenon is less common among Women of Science, although still prevalent. Something like 10% of American women do not change their names upon marriage.

So, the question is: What's in a name?

Truly, a name is an identifier. It is not unreasonable for a woman to want to identify herself with her husband. It is also not unreasonable for a woman to want to identify herself with herself, especially if she has some kind of professional status. Of course, there are many solutions to this problem, and the choice is very much personal:
Woman takes Husband's LastName.
Woman keeps Woman's LastName.
Woman hyphenates both LastNames.
Woman takes Husband's LastName legally and personally, but keeps Woman's LastName professionally.
Woman keeps Woman's LastName legally and professionally, but uses Husband's LastName personally.
Woman decides to become a celebrity and just goes by "Woman", eliminating the need for a last name.
Many members of the general population have a hard time accepting anything but option 1 (and maybe option 4). My biggest beef with the whole Name Business is that people assume that you must be an anti-societal man-hater to choose anything other than the 'acceptable' options. There are many non-feminist reasons why a woman might decide to take a non-traditional approach to her name post-marriage, including practicality, comfort, and perhaps a simple preference of which name she likes better.

Fortunately for this weekend's bride, she is choosing the assumed option 1, and everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. No issues or discomfort here! Just a simple Mr. and Mrs. Husband's Last Name. No explanations, no excuses, and no insecurity. Sometimes, conformity seems so easy.

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