weddingSome women don't mind dropping their maiden names at the time of marriage and assuming their husbands' last names. For others -- including those with really awesome alliterative first and last names -- it's more of an issue.

Unfortunately, women in Japan don't have a choice in the matter: That's because of a 19th-century law that stipulates that married couples must share one surname -- and with the exception of only a few instances, that usually means the husband's.

But a group of four Japanese women (and one of their husbands) is working to change this tradition in the name of equal rights. They're suing to challenge the law and are demanding six million yen ($70,000) in damages for their emotional distress.

Yikes! Who knew taking your husband's name could have such ill effects?

According to the women involved in the case, dropping their maiden name has been tremendously painful for them, with one woman even describing the experience as "like having a splinter in my heart." Another, Kaori Oguni, explained it this way:

It's like losing part of myself ... Marriage is supposed to be joyful ... but I guess quite a lot of people feel agony about losing their names ... I have a one-year-old daughter. I don't want her to have the same feeling.

If these statements seem just a tad bit dramatic, remember that the right to bear maiden names is something we often take for granted here in the United States. For women with an attachment to their names or who are simply marrying a partner with a horrible last name, the experience of forced name change can be downright traumatic.

For their part, Japanese people are split on the issue. According to one survey, 37 percent of respondents said they supported a revision of the law; 35 percent were against -- which just goes to show how powerful something as simple as a name can be.

Was dropping your maiden name painful?

 

Image via marysecasol.com/Flickr