How come men don’t change names when they get married?

Writer Naomi Shulman had a moment of deja vu when the New York Times recently ran a story about women who don’t change their names when they get married. We’ve heard the debate before.

Then she noticed something was missing in the discussion on her Facebook page about the story: How come we never ask men the question?

She writes on WBUR’s Cognoscenti blog today:

I have many female friends who have taken their husband’s names, and the vast majority self-identify as feminists. I know the reasons people choose to do this are more complicated than they may seem. I chose to keep my explicitly Jewish name partly as a cultural identifier.

But when you flip the question and ask why men almost never consider changing their names, the topic suddenly seems a lot simpler. It’s untraditional for men to change their names, just as it’s traditional for women to do so.

But when you remove convention from the equation, what’s left? As a friend of mine put it, she imagines most men simply shrugging and saying, “It’s my name. Why should I change it?” To which I say: Bingo.

Shulman is vowing to stop asking women about their name choice after marriage “until I get a more substantive answer from their husbands about why they didn’t.”

She says same-sex marriage might well usher out the tradition.