Women and Last Names:

[I had posted this earlier, but there was a glitch that kept the comments from working; reposting it now.]

I've found that lots of women of my circle — generally professionals who, I think, would describe themselves feminists at least in the sense of believe that men and women should be fundamentally equal socially and professionally — change their last names when they marry.

That surprises me, because the symbolism strikes me as somewhat antifeminist; maybe it shouldn't, but it does. Perhaps this is because back in Russia, where I first noticed people's last names, my mother and my grandmother (who had helped raise me) had kept their maiden names, and I think so had many of my parents' friends. I distinctly remember my reaction when I met a couple my parents knew, and noticed that they had the same last name: They're not just husband and wife, I thought; they must be brother and sister. I hadn't learned yet about the incest taboo, and brother-sister marriages seemed more plausible to me than a person's changing her name.

But of course different people perceive symbols differently; and obviously many friends of mine don't take the view that I do. So let me ask a question, and seek comments, but only from women who have changed their names when they married: Why?

I think I know some possible answers, but I don't want to influence the responses, so I'll just seek comments from the readers. Again, please post comments only if you are a woman, and you changed your name when you married.

UPDATE: Tyler Cowen comments.

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