Weddings

Why Some Nosy People Just Don’t Understand Not Taking Your Husband’s Last Name

Chrissy ... Legend? No. 

Chrissy Teigen has sparked another debate — this time about taking your partner’s last name when you marry.

The two tied the knot in 2013, and some of her Twitter followers have recently been questioning why she kept her own last name instead of sharing his. Which, it turns out, is just a stage name, anyway. His birth name is John Stephens.

Chrissy responded to them with: “I’d really like to hear the reasoning behind women who won’t take their husband’s last name…my husband didn't even take his last name?”

Another tweet answered a demand to know why she hasn’t changed her name, with Chrissy saying: “You’ll never understand the simple reason of ‘because I don’t want to?’”

The model mom is all for women dropping their maiden name if they want to. “The best part is, I am not anti-taking the last name at all. I was going to. Just never got around to it and it isn’t even the name he goes by,” she tweeted. “It wasn’t some grand statement not to. I just don’t see how the choice affects anyone else – why do people care so much!”

One study done last year on married surnames found that the husbands of women who chose to keep their maiden last names were more likely to be perceived as feminine than those whose wives changed their names.

It’s called independence. Still … the study reported that there were stereotypes assigned to men whose wives retain their surnames after marriage.

“Within Western cultures, most women in heterosexual relationships adopt their husbands’ surnames after marriage. In attempting to explain the enduring nature of this practice, researchers have noted that women tend to encounter stereotypes when they break with tradition by retaining their own surnames after marriage,” said the study. “Stereotypes are also directed toward men whose wives violate the surname tradition…Participants high in hostile sexism were particularly likely to rate a man as lower in power when his wife retained her surname.”

Most women still do change their names, research has found, next is hyphenating their last name or taking on two last names. About 20 percent of women keep their own last names as their legal name. It’s still extremely rare for a child to take the mother’s last name alone. Most take the father’s last name, again, next is a hyphenated name of mom and dad’s last name.

What’s the deal with people caring so much about taking a partner’s last name? Why is it their business?

Well, one it’s not. But two, they’ll comment anyway.

“It’s hard to make an argument for why it’s important other than it’s just important to the woman,” Emily Shafer, a sociologist at Portland State University, tells Market Watch. "And in the family or personal realm, we expect women to be ‘other interested’ instead of self-interested.”

Two other reasons a woman changing her name when she marries a man matters to others is that it's tied up in a lot of the romantic ideas we have about love and marriage, which can be hard to push back on. In many cases the decision to change a last name is viewed as a signal of “devotion and love for their spouse” as well as “a show of family unity,” she said.

Shafer also noted that women who keep their own last names buck tradition, which really seems to upset people. Simply put, people want what they are used to, and anything outside that norm makes them question what you are doing. It’s more acceptable in Hollywood, though, since many people have stage names, and it’s common when you have en established career to keep the name the public is familiar with.

Take Amy Schumer, if she suddenly became Amy Fischer, that would be weird on a few levels. She’s a feminist who built her career from the ground up, and then, well there’s Amy Fisher.

'I’m not Amy Fischer! Do you remember who Amy Fisher is? The Long Island Lolita. No, I’m keeping my last name. I’m keeping your last name,' she said during an Instagram story to her dad.

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