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Priscilla Chan Is Not “Mrs. Zuckerberg”

It’s weird that people can’t seem to understand it when a woman keeps her name after marriage.

STRINGER/CHINA / Reuters

If you google “Mrs. Zuckerberg,” you’ll get 267,000 results! Not bad, except that they all refer to Priscilla Chan — not Mark’s mom, Donna. Priscilla Chan is keeping her name, and a lot of people can’t seem to understand that concept.

Americans still appear to be uncomfortable with women keeping their own last names. In the 2000s, only 18 percent of women kept their name after marriage. But the fact that America keeps assuming that she took her husband’s name is somewhat distressing: All of these Google hits lead to articles in which Chan is referred to as “Mrs. Zuckerberg,” “Mrs. Mark Zuckerberg,” and so on.

As a man, I don’t want my (hypothetical, future wife) to want to take my name. Having your own identity, and being proud of it, is hugely attractive, and there’s no reason that I could think of for why I would want to subjugate the identity of someone I love to my own. Self-identifying as a feminist means different things to different people, but to me, it requires fighting against what I think are antiquated behaviors.

This isn’t to say that I’m against women taking a man’s name, or men taking a woman’s name. It’s a personal decision. After all, it’s their name. And if the person in question, or the couple in question, thinks it’s legally/practically/emotionally/symbolically appropriate to join together under one last name, excellent. But the idea that a woman should ever feel pressured, or be required — or, in the case of Chan, be forced against her will, by the court of public ignorance — to fold herself into the identity of her husband is an idea that needs to die.

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