Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oh, really?

According to a recent article in the New York Daily news (Original Source Here), not only do 70% of Americans think that it is right for a woman to take her husband's name upon marriage, but a full fifty percent actually think it should be required by law. Of the ones who favor the name change, some of them voiced the reasoning "that women should lose their own identity when they marry and become a part of the man and his family."


Now, I recognize that only 815 people were surveyed. I also recognize that statistical data can easily be manipulated by those asking the questions, and that we have no indication that this was an accurate cross-section of all Americans. Still, the statistic is disturbing.

For the sake of perspective, I was married in March and I changed my name from Pelc to Symbouras. However, I knew that I had the choice, and that the choice was mine alone. My husband never even brought up the issue; I did, and his reaction was, "I'm happy that you want to take my name, but it's entirely up to you. I'd never push it." It is for this reason, this recognition of choice above all, that I absolutely did not lose my identity.

As someone who was planning a wedding, I frequented wedding-related websites and was in contact with other women across the country and around the world who were also getting married. Every once in a while the question would be posed regarding a marital name change, and the responses were interesting. Many women, especially in New Jersey, are choosing to keep their premarital surnames. Many are changing them entirely as I did, hyphenating them, or dropping their middle names, bumping their maiden name to middle name status. Many, to my surprise, relayed their fiance's insistence that they change their names. Raised, as I was, to be independent and fairly opinionated, that surprised me. It grates on me.

This is 2009, after all. Women are, in the legal world, equals. Sure, there's still much more to gain in the real world, but our predecessors have fought long and hard for our equality and to a large extent have achieved it. Born in 1970, I was raised with the perspective that I could do anything I pleased with my life; that there was nothing I could not achieve, no career I could not pursue. We vote. We serve on juries. We seek educations. We run companies. We create, invent, achieve.

And still... we need to lose our own identities? No. No, we don't.

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