When I tell people that when I get married in two weeks that I am not taking my fiancé’s last name, I usually get a blank stare and people are generally very confused. Some people are even angry and have accused me of not loving said fiancé. (Believe me, if you’re going to marry someone who snores that loud, what would you being doing it for, if not out of love?)
According to the New York Daily News, those of us who don’t feel we’re in the wrong by keeping our last names are outnumbered. A whopping 50 percent of people polled at the Center for Survey Research at Indiana University think that women should be legally required to take their spouse’s last name after marriage.
Since my engagement in May, I started reading about changing my name. Not only is the task daunting (yes, I’m lazy) but by not changing my last name, does that mean I’m any less married to my husband? I think not. Though there are many reasons to change your name, there are issues that lead me to believe that it can be a very trying struggle for an independent lady such as myself. Identity is an important thing and though I am taking the plunge and saying “I do,” I will still be ME. I’ve been writing Julia Kay Porter since I was in the first grade and when you google, Julia Porter, she’s actually done stuff. This new person that will arise out of joining names will be a big blank on the ole’ google search bar.
This may not make a lot of sense to you 50 percent who want me to have to legally change my name, but it’s been a huge struggle to figure this thing out! I mean, lets face it, people used to marry straight out of high school or college, but now the average age of marriage for women in the United States is twenty-five. By twenty-five years of age, I had done a lot, and now at nearly twenty-nine, I’ve done even more to make a name for myself: the name I have had for the past twenty-eight years.
Though I’m not doing this for any feminist reasons, that’s usually the first “insult” that’s hurdled at me. If I was trying to escape a man’s name, wouldn’t I change my name completely? Porter belongs to my father, and his father, and their fathers before them, so that’s not the reason I’m sticking to my name.
Lucy Stone was the first woman in the United States to not change her name after marriage. Since this was the 19th century when she was so brazen to keep her birth name, she was of course, taunted. Additionally, Stone was the first woman in the state of Massachusetts to earn a college degree (and oddly, the first person in New England to be cremated—a go getter to the end!).
Though my firsts may not be as significant, I am the first in my nuclear family to become a teacher, to move to New York City, to get a Master’s Degree, and to get married and not change her name.
If you ask my fiancé about it, he could care less about me taking his name. Will our children have his last name? Of course, and if it’s a concern to me then, then I’ll do the paperwork and change my name, but until that day cones, I’m content to be the person I always have been and the woman my fiancé fell in love with.