At the height of feminism and women slowly taking over the world, the views on women changing their names after marriage is still a cause for discourse. Of course, this mainly is brought upon that historically, women just change their names automatically after marriage. Given that the world in olden times was a patriarchal one, a change of surnames basically showed a sense of ownership and a lack of rights. In recent years, studies have shown that less and less women change their names after marriage. It was analyzed by The New York Times that only 20% of women keep their names and another 10% hyphenate so they could use their names professionally but not legally. In 2010, a study in Basic and Applied Psychology showed that views on women who change their names are, more often than not, seen as “caring and emotional.” Women who keep their last name, on the other hand, are viewed as “smart and ambitious.” People hypothesize that it is due to higher levels of education and having better careers than older generations.
But what is it about women changing their names that makes it so beneficial? Well, people argue that it accounts for better harmony in their new family as it makes it easier externally to not have to explain the differences in names. People are so used to a family having the same name that they tend to get confused and this causes inconvenience and unwarranted stress for the family members, especially if they have children. Being recognized as one family with a common last name is also a good thing. This saves the family a lot of time explaining why their mom/wife has a different name than everybody else. This also serves as an opportunity to change names, should women find their maiden names unappealing. Changing last names has also been said to help the dynamic between husband and wife as having the same last name tightens the bond and commitment they’ve made to each other. Furthermore, it makes it easier as people assume naturally that women change their name that they address them as a Mrs. Husband’s-last-name.
On the other hand, women who change their names tend to have problems with identity and a sense of losing themselves afterwards. The idea is that even though women getting married does not mean a stop of them being themselves. Ideologies can sometimes be compromised, as again, at this day and age, women have the right to choose what they want. Progressive women may feel that the traditional patriarchal ways shouldn’t be followed anymore. Women wanting to keep their last name because maybe they’re the last ones who would get it is also a factor. Professionally, women who already made a name for themselves in their career would find it difficult to change names as this would affect recognition in their field.
At the end of the day, married couples or those about to get married should come to an agreement on what women should do with their last names, taking into account that their decision should be beneficial for all of them.