"I think I want to keep my last name when I get married," I said to a group of my friends who immediately began to laugh at me.
It was freshmen year, around the end of finals when we were sitting around and having those delirium-induced kind of conversations that are fueled by sleep deprivation.
My boyfriend at the time teasingly told me it was a deal-breaker if I continued to pursue my non-name-changing ways. Though I eventually changed his mind on the issue (even if I only found out after we broke up), his initial viewpoint still haunts me. And with good reason, because he is not alone in his original opinion.
Heterosexual women are faced with this dilemma constantly, and it is a topic that is getting more and more dialogue around it. Our world declares every day that men and women are becoming more equal, but the name-change statistics don't agree.
In a recent Men's Health poll, 63.3 percent of men said they would be upset if their wife kept her maiden name. Meanwhile a whopping 96.3 percent of men polled said they would not take the woman's last name if she asked him to.
So let's just look at the ramifications here – men can expect women to take their last name, but women should not expect men to take their last name?
Poll takers cited reasons such as "doubt that she was committed to the relationship," "wanting to keep my family name" and "feeling a loss of identity if she did change their name."
Ironically, those with this viewpoint seemed to miss the fact that asking women to change their names was imposing the very things they themselves wanted to avoid.
While the readers of Men's Health may be a biased population, the fact remains that many women agree. A poll done in partnership with Facebook and The Daily Beast found that 65 percent of women in their 20s and 30s had decided to take their husband's name in marriage. Of women in their 40s, 50s and 60s, the stats were even higher, with 75 to 80 percent taking their husband's name.
This trend has disappointed the many independent women's groups who have rallied for maintaining maiden names, hyphenations or even name blending. It's been in constant decline since the early 1990s, when 23 percent of married women kept their maiden name.
I myself remember being a shocked freshman when I discovered my women's studies professor's wife had proposed to him, and he had taken her name. Naively, I felt uncomfortable at the thought of gender roles being reversed.
But feeling uncomfortable about it does not mean accepting the norm and moving on. When we feel uncomfortable, we need to keep pushing on the sore spot and exploring deeper until we uncover the reason behind our discomfort. And oftentimes, that reason is just as irrational as the discomfort itself – we just never took the time to really look.
Maybe it's just my ironic watching of "The Bachelor" on Monday nights and talk of weddings that's gotten me thinking about this — but with graduation impending, I've started to realize real life is coming, and coming fast.
It is likely I'll find the person who will be my partner for life within the next 10 or 15 years. That seems like a long time, but just look at how fast the four years of college have gone.
We need to have those conversations with ourselves about exactly what we want in a partner and relationship so that when we go into it, we can have those important conversations honestly with them as well.
I'm not saying if you do decide to change your name, you are a submissive and suppressed woman. I'm just saying it is something you should think about before you commit to it; really analyze why it is you are doing so.
Is it because you are conforming to an antiquated tradition? Or because you truly don't want to deal with the confusion of having two names? Whatever the reason may be, just please don't do it because you feel you're supposed to or your boyfriend insists.
That's just old school.
Victoria Knight is a senior in microbiology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.