Maiden Names Redux
Matt Yglesias, whose late mother kept her maiden name throughout her life, throws a new wrinkle into the longstanding Should women take their husband’s name debate: “[I]sn’t the inconvenience of changing your email address reason enough to stick with your original name?” An interesting point, especially in the era of permanent accounts like G-mail. Presumably, though, auto-forwarding would solve that problem.
My position on the issue remains unchanged from when I last addressed it, a little over four years ago: “[K]eeping one’s maiden name is simply impractical once children come into the picture.” You’re simply swimming against the cultural tide trying to juggle multiple names in a society that’s used to single surnames.
Yes, it’s a social construct. In most Latin cultures, women keep their names and the children take both their mother and father’s surnames. Richard Gardner points out that in Iceland most people have no surnames as we understand it and that “the result is that most are known by their first name and profession.” But that’s not our way. As Kevin McGehee observed, “If part of the feminist agenda of the ’70s was to remake the culture so that the same could be accepted here, they failed — but only because far more substantive gains were made in the meantime.” Much like the perfectly sane attempt to go metric, it just Petered out.
Related and amusing-to-me: Searching for that old post, I stumbled on “Hillary Rodham Clinton More Popular than Hillary Clinton” from a couple years back. It was about a survey showing “Hillary Rodham Clinton” outpolled “Hillary Clinton” by four points. While this was within the margin of error and I never saw subsequent polling addressing that issue, it’s rather amusing in the light of the fact that she ultimately decided to brand herself as “Hillary Clinton” for the presidential run and lost narrowly.