Yesterday, Skepchick HQ received this email regarding maiden vs married names and the long term fallout:
I recently had a conversation with friends about how we
didn’t realize many of our professors were married to others in the
department because they had different last names. This started us
talking about how women in the sciences cannot change their last name
because of issues with publishing. I am at a point in my life where I
am both applying to graduate schools and have talked with my longtime
boyfriend about getting married. I’m wondering if this is something
I should take into consideration when deciding whether or not to
change my last name. In your experiences, how large of an issue can
changing your last name be once you have published and plan to
continue publishing? I think this is an important topic for women in
the sciences to be conscious of. Without having had this conversation
with friends, the issue wouldn’t have occurred to me, and I just
wonder if it would cause a lot of hassle that most women are not aware
of when they choose to change their last name.
Whenever this topic comes up, it makes for interesting conversation. Amy posted it as an AI two years ago, and we decided that we should revisit the subject.
When I got married, I was hardly a feminist. The thought of not taking my husband’s last name seemed like an immature betrayal of what I was supposed to do… to, you know, prove I’m his or something. But also, my maiden name was Wojnowski, and all my life I wanted a last name that was at the top of the alphabet and easy to spell and pronounce.
Little did I know that in the years to come, I would feel a little betrayed by my own name. A name I chose to take. I’m not particularly close with my husband’s family. And by “not close” I mean “thinking about them drives me to drink… more… more than I would anyway.” And yet, I’m quite close with my family. And my husband is closer to my family than his own. I hate that I share a name with a group of people I’m not really a part of aside from a piece of paper that connects me to them through one person.
Plus, I’ve always liked my first name. Elyse is a rare enough name that there’s rarely, or ever, a question over who people are talking about when they say it. No one ever asks “Elyse who?” It’s Elyse. You either know me or you don’t. Why couldn’t I appreciate that about “Wojnowski”? That’s a name with character. Not that Anders isn’t… but it’s common enough.
My name doesn’t feel like mine. And at this point, I’ve done enough work as Elyse Anders that it seems silly to change it back… plus kids and all the hassle of paperwork and emotional baggage… and explaining that no, I’m not divorced. And in the end, it is nice to be one family with one last name… it’s less to think about when I’m filling out forms and I can barely keep track of everyone’s birthdays as it is. It’s convenient. Sharing a last name makes it easy to visit each other in places like hospitals… or when dealing with calling the cable company “I’m his wife. Elyse Anders.”
But in the end, Elyse Mother Fucking Wojnowski is just a more bad ass name.
How do you feel about name changing? Did you? Would you? Guys, would you change your name? If you did or didn’t, do you regret it? What advice should we give young girls on their names? Should I change my middle name to Mother Fucking Wojnowski?
The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.