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More Women Are Keeping Their Maiden Names — But Not for the Reason You Think

When it comes to your name after marriage, women — heck, people — have more than one option.

One of those options, keeping your maiden name after you've said "I do," is on the rise, according to a Google Consumer Survey conducted by the New York Times.

Up to roughly 20 percent, from 17 percent in the politically charged 1970s and even the 19 percent of the post-Reagan 1990s, the decision to stick with the name you were born with is becoming slightly more common.

But it's not for reason you might think.

"It's not necessarily a feminist reason," Donna Suh tells the Times. "It's just my name for 33 years of my life. Plus, I'm Asian and he's not, so it's less confusing for me to not have a white name."

While keeping your surname as a woman in the so-called "Ms. Decade" was more of a political statement and a display of independence in reaction to some state laws requiring women to use their husband's name to vote or get drivers' licenses, today the decision appears to be more about convenience.

With women marrying later and making a prenuptial name for themselves in their careers, some women simply find it easier to keep their maiden name.

"So many women are working and they have established careers for themselves, it almost seemed bigger to decide to take his name than to not take his name," Suh tells the Times.

While some women still wrestle with the decision and others find the tradition of adopting the husband's name as "patriarchal," the Times reports that for many "the choice reflects a modern-day approach to gender equality."

That is, "Basic rights have been achieved, so the gesture carries less weight either way."

The overwhelming majority of women still take their husband's name — 70 percent, with 10 percent opting to hyphenate or legally change it while using their maiden name professionally, according to the survey — but that doesn't mean they necessarily subscribe to old-fashioned societal mores.

The Times also spoke to Sarah Marino (née Lewis), an attorney who married at 37, has two degrees and qualifies as the breadwinner of the family. While her marriage reflects the strides women have made over the last few decades, she still opted to change her name.

"It's like you're a unit if you have the same last name," she tells the Times. Not only that, but she sees herself and her husband as equal partners in their marriage.

"I don't tie my personal success and me trying to be a successful woman lawyer to keeping my original name," she says.

Of course, there are now many options when it comes to choosing a name after marriage — and it's not only women who are making that decision.

In fact, Zoe Saldana's husband, Marco Saldana (né Perego), made headlines when he changed his name after marriage.

Zoe revealed in a Facebook post that when she expressed her hesitation, wondering what people would think, he replied in what she called a "strong Italian accent": "I don't give a sheet!"

"Why not?" she said he asked her. "What are you afraid of?"

Image via Twenty20/__James__

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