California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

A woman’s choice to keep her last name

The first and last name of a person is what gives them their identity. Through social media especially, your name is your brand and the way you put it out there reflects on the person you are. With that being said, it should not be looked down upon when a woman decides to keep her last name after marriage.

A woman has her own personal brand that she should not have to alter or changeย  after getting married. Even though this is a choice, and women are not forced to take the last name of their husband, it is often something that is looked down upon or seen as unusual when a woman does not take her husbandโ€™s last name.

Although it is nice to follow tradition, it is actually a hassle to change your last name legally. The Seattle Bride Magazine explained on their website how much paperwork has to be done to change your last name.

โ€œThe list of places requiring the newlywed to file a name change is daunting, ranging from the Social Security Administration to the auto insurance company, and just about everywhere in between. Moreover, brides are required to apply for a driversโ€™ license and passport bearing their new name.โ€

It can be a lot of work, and according to The New York Timesย  about 20 percent of women that have recently gotten married decided to keep their maiden name.

Every woman has her reasons, but for some, it may be more of a personal decision. If a woman worked through extra years of college to get her doctoral degree and gets married a few years later, why should she have to change her legal identity? Her last name is what represents all the hard work she just endured.

This is almost the same reason that, California Lutheran University communication professor, Sharon Docter, chose to keep her last name when she got married.

โ€œI had already published some articles with my last name and I wanted to keep it; plus my last name is Docter so I thought it would be really nice to be Dr. Docter,โ€ she said.

Docter said this was not a decision that she made all on her own. With the influence of her peer group she made the choice to keep her last name. Also, most of the women she knew went into academia and decided to keep their last names as well.

Docter said that being surrounded by strong, intelligent women, she never really considered changing her last name when she got married.

Being married for 23 years, Docter feels like she is judged sometimes because she did not change her last name. She said that it is often confusing because her children have a different last name than her.

โ€œPeople make all sorts of assumptions before really having any information,โ€ Docter said.

This is not fair because she has worked hard as a professor and published articles, and people are still looking past her credentials and assuming things about something unrelated to her work. Aside from these assumptions, Docter said she is proud of her name and her work that has been crafted with her name on it.

โ€œI felt like I had a strong identity before I got married, that my whole life, that was my name, and I liked it, and it was important to me,โ€ Docter said.

Women have their reasons for keeping their last name or for taking their husbandโ€™s last name and the choice is completely up to them. On the bright side, if a woman does not like her last name, at least she has the option of getting married and being able to change it.

Choosing to keep your birth name should not be looked down upon because it is a choice and everyone has the right to make their own decisions, especially a big one like changing your identity.

Luisa Virgen












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