monitajb definitely hit on part of my view, that name changes aren’t an issue for men. So many view it as a “more feminist” or even “the only feminist” decision to keep your name, since it’s more on equal footing to what men do- ie, never having to make a personal decision regarding which name to take. It’s not an equal choice for men and women. For me personally, I feel that until an equal number of men take on women’s last name as the other way around, keeping your maiden name *is* a more feminist choice. I don’t think it’s a huge deal if you do change your name, nor do I expect that all (or even many) women will want to make a feminist statement, so take that for what it’s worth.
The other part of my answer as to why it’s considered more feminist to keep a name passed along male lines than to take on your husband’s name is that names are two things (to me): a statement on what family you come from, along with you very own, personal identity. My first and last name as a combination are something I have had *as an individual* my whole life. I respond to the sounds of it and have memorized the way it feels to write it down on a piece of paper. This is me. My FI’s name is him. And while I don’t think that all, or even very much of, my identity is tied up in my name alone, it still makes up a part of who I am, not to mention others’ recognition of who I am. I have to have *some* name, some identity, and that happens to be my given name, which was passed down by my father.
My fiancé and I hope to address this one-sided passing down of names by giving my daughters my last name, and my sons his, or vice versa. And it’s not *just* my father’s name- he didnt choose that name himself either, it was passed on from his father, and on and on. Of course it’s not equal that it was only passed along patrilineally, but I hope to change this, at least in my family.
I know that a lot of people think that my decision is overzealous, but I think that the bulk of present-day feminism is making decisions that may seem over-the-top to many others simply because the matters seem trivial- aren’t women “basically” equal now, don’t they have the same freedoms as men? I don’t think we do yet, so these small things add up as part of larger issues.
This is a decision that is fraught with so many implications for people, and I understand why it elicts strong feelings. But I will stand by my opinion that having one “man’s name” (my father’s) is more ME and more fair to me as a woman than taking on my FH’s last name.
Sorry to write a novel, just trying to clarify why I felt that way 🙂