Feminism, self-identity, and professional identity are some of the reasons why some women today struggle with the decision of whether or not to keep their maiden name or to hyphenate.
“For me, it wasn’t that I needed a reason not to change my name, but rather that I saw no reason to change,” said philosophy and women’s studies Prof. Elizabeth Anderson, who kept her maiden name when she married her husband David Jacobi.
“The fundamental rationale for women changing their names upon marriage is based on the idea that in marriage, a woman subsumes her identity under her husband’s. This contradicts a principle to which I am committed, which is the equality of marriage partners,” Anderson added.
Many women think of their maiden names as an important part of their identity. First-year Law student Merrill Hodnefield said, “Feminist arguments aside, you self-identify so much with your name.”
Anderson also mentioned that professionally, it was to her advantage to keep her name. “I was already publishing under my current name, and to change my name would disrupt the continuity of my professional identity.”
“Women with more education are more likely not to use their husband’s last name,” said sociology and women’s studies Prof. Karin Martin.
Martin said that in the 1990s, only 10 percent of married women chose to use something other than their husband’s surname. “I was surprised at how low this number is – living in an academic community like Ann Arbor one begins to think it is higher,” she said.
Martin, who once considered this topic for a possible research project, said that feminism was a key factor behind the increase in women keeping their own names or hyphenating them.
She also mentioned that while some women want to take their husband’s last name, “other women are unsure and do so because of pressure from a fianc