s Thoughts from the Physics Chick: Of maidens and matrons

Friday, April 23, 2010

Of maidens and matrons

Oddly enough, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about whether I want to keep my maiden name. I say “oddly,” because I don’t have any current prospects for doing anything else, so I’m not exactly sure where this unexpected concern is coming from. (Well, aside from my general proclivity for worrying about things that aren’t a current issue and possibly never will be.)

Anyway, if I had to put my finger on it, I’d say that it’s been on my mind for a few reasons. One reason is that a friend of mine recently got married and has been torn about whether to keep her maiden name. Another reason is that I turned 30 last year, so I feel like I’ve had this name for a while, now, and I’m not going to go trading it in without a good reason. The last reason, silly as it may seem, has to do with authority control and the fact that publishing under two different names (or even different forms of a name) is a bad idea. (This last one isn’t really a big deal, though, because you don’t have to publish under your legal name, so if I write an article now and then write another article after I legally change my name, I’d probably still publish the second one under my maiden name, regardless.)

The weird thing is, if I married a guy named John Smith*, for example, I don’t think I’d mind at all being called [Katya] Smith or Mrs. Smith or Sister Smith. I’ve acquired enough nicknames over the years that I don’t really care what people call me in terms of everyday encounters, but I want to know I’m still the same person, deep down, and apparently my current last name is a big part of my identity.
*I was going to go with
“John Doe,” but then I realized that I associate that with dead people, thanks to watching too many police procedurals. So Im opting for being Pocahontas, instead.


At April 23, 2010 10:16 PM, Blogger Señora H-B said...

This was a really hard decision for me. I very nearly didn't legally change my name after Mr. H-B and I got married. He didn't have a preference either way. In the end, I did it, keeping my maiden name as my middle name.

I thought I was happy with the decision until the final version of my first article (with a bunch of other people, not nearly as exciting as it sounds...). I put a hyphen in and I can't decide if I regret it or not.

I never realized just how attached I was to my last name!

At April 23, 2010 10:40 PM, Blogger Betty Edit said...

When my brother got married, his wife kept her last name for a while, then eventually he changed his name to match hers. I still get confused sometimes when I see his name come up on my cell phone. ("Daddy Googlepants? I don't know a Daddy Googlepants...")

At April 23, 2010 10:59 PM, Blogger Logan said...

Apparently final ŋ sound is difficult to hear, because people are always like "Manny? Huh?" when I have to give my name. Other than that it's an okay surname, but I'm not nearly as satisfied with it as with my given name. Between that consideration and sheer lulz, it's probably about odds-on that I'll want to adopt my wife's name, should anything ever progress that far.

At April 23, 2010 11:15 PM, Blogger Berkeley Ward said...




At April 24, 2010 2:12 PM, Blogger Katya said...

Señora H-B - I've considered hyphenation, but my last name is three syllables and eleven letters long, so making it even longer seems like a bit much.

Betty - Well, who wouldn't want the last name "Googlepants"? ;)

Logan - If you were talking to a football fan, you could say "like Peyton Manning."

Th. - Fixed.

At April 27, 2010 7:26 AM, Blogger Saule Cogneur said...

I'm definitely in the "whatever" boat here unless you publish. Then I definitely say you should keep your original name. Maybe I'm just selfish, but your work is YOUR work, not your husband's.

Also, careers tend to last longer than marriages these days.

At May 02, 2010 10:54 PM, Blogger Petra said...

I have such mixed feelings about this. (Am I the friend?) I've drafted about three blog entries about this, myself, and they all come back to "eh, I don't know."

At May 03, 2010 8:06 AM, Blogger Katya said...

Petra - You are, indeed, the friend. ;)

At May 03, 2010 1:28 PM, Blogger Katya said...

SC - "Maybe I'm just selfish, but your work is YOUR work, not your husband's." That's an interesting point. I was thinking in terms of keeping the name under which I publish consistent, not necessarily in terms of publishing under MY name or under HIS. (Of course, you can argue the "my" name is just my dad's name, so it's not really mine, either.)


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