I must have touched a raw nerve, judging by the volume of comments and emails I got about my last post ("Women Are Now Taking Hubby's Last Name"). As you might recall, I expressed chagrin at the latest marital fashion: Women are opting to take their husband's surname. I saw it as a regrettable, regressive trend.
Woe to me for taking a position on that sacred topic! Some readers accuse me of being the one with the hang-up. There's nothing antifeminist about taking your husband's name, they tell me, arguing that it's an exercise of a woman's free will, which is itself a feminist statement. Others accused me of being antifamily and unromantic.
Well, readers, I hear you. Believe it or not, I'm not doctrinaire. I'm a pragmatist. I believe in breaking rules, including my own.
So, after pondering the issue further, I've now come up with a list of reasons why you might be perfectly right to dump your maiden name:
1. When you've been indicted or convicted. You need a clean start to launch your career and life, so hook that unsuspecting sucker and take his name as fast as you can!
2. When your maiden name is a spelling nightmare. Let's face it: Names like "Jones" or "Baker" are better for your brand in the corporate world than "Konekhamsompnou" or "Oubonlamphanh."
3. When your maiden name has an unfortunate connotation. Can it be easy to ascend the social or career ladder with a last name like Coffin, Rat, Falik, Smut, or Turd? Don't think so.
4. When your maiden name is notorious. I don't care how much family pride you have, I'd ditch any name associated with major dictators, serial killers, terrorists or assassins.
5. When you despise your father. Actually, quite a number of people told me they have daddy issues, and would happily erase any paternal connection, if given the chance.
But even if you don't suffer from any of the above, there are still compelling reasons to take your husband's name. No, no—not because of those tired middle-class reasons—like how wonderful it is to wave the family flag or how proud you are to bear the last name of the love of your life. Puh-leeze. Let's try to be a bit more imaginative.
The top two reasons to change your last name in my book are:
- When you marry royalty. I don't blame Kate Middleton one bit for dropping her last name to take on the the title of "Duchess of Cambridge." Hey, I'd do it in a flash.
- When your husband's name will get you a table at a popular restaurant. Maybe this is just a New York thing, but I suspect that a name like Rockefeller, Forbes, Trump, or Lauder will get the maître d's attention real fast and put you on top of that wait list.
Hey, who says I don't see both sides of an issue?
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Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.