man placing ring on wife's fingerWe Americans just love paradoxes. We fancy ourselves so progressive and leaders of the free world, but then half of us are still "traditionalists" or, as I see it, backassward-ists. Case in point: A nationally representative survey of 815 Americans, in which 50 percent supported a law requiring women to change their last names upon marriage. What?! What year is this again? Who in their right mind would advocate that the government force women to take such a major step backward?

Let me just say ... I have always said I think when I get married, I'll keep my last name professionally, but take my husband's name personally. I'm not quite sure how that works and if it'll be a total pain in the butt, but it's what I see making the most sense for me. But when it comes to what other women do -- taking their hubby's last name or not -- I've always felt it was completely up to them. Maybe they have particular reasons for or against doing it.

Some women are seriously turned off by the origin of taking a man's last name. Which I totally understand. After all, it harkens back to the 1800s and even into the 1900s, when U.S. common law meant a married woman had no rights to her own property or to make contracts in her own name. A husband was the one to take on all legal rights for the couple. Knowing that definitely makes my stomach turn a bit, but on the other hand, you could argue that's not what it means anymore. Now, it's more of a romantic gesture, a symbol of unity, or perhaps a way to make it easier on the kids.

But what it boils down to is that there are very few things that are as close to identity as a name -- first or last. We should all be entitled to our own decision on the matter. Unless we want to take this country back to the dark ages. 

What's your thought on women being required by law to change their last names when they get married?

 

Image via Emma Hughes/Flickr