Hyphenated women

Posted by ES-C on January 19, 2002 at

In Reply to: Woman's name change posted by R. Berg on January 19, 2002

: : I was wondering if anyone knows why women change their last name to the man's last name when they marry, and where did this practice begin? I personally think this practice is somewhat demeaning, though I know few women who really care one way or the other. My wife changed her last name to mine, though as an afterthought, we wished we had kept her last name and hyphenated it with mine. Changing it after the fact is quite costly and it can only be done one time - in America. The worst part is when she receives mail in the name of Mrs. Michael *****, instead of Mrs. Her Name. This bugs me too. Help.

: Well, you and she could move to California, where one legally establishes a name as one's own by using it. I don't know the law in other states. Certainly some people have multiple name changes during a lifetime--namely, women who marry several times and take the man's surname each time. Some children have their names legally changed to match their stepfathers', and it seems odd that they would consequently be denied another change when grown. A Google search under "Lucy Stone League" might turn up useful information.

I am (as I was once called) a hyphenated woman. When I married 20 years ago, I had to go to court in Kentucky to add the hyphen. I could have kept my name or taken my husband's without any court action. But a hyphen meant a trip to court -- cost $60. I've never regretted my hyphen. But it's been a struggle on several fronts.