When Amanda Kolson got married, she made Kolson her middle name and took her husband's surname, Hurley, as her last. Cue the raised eyebrows and not-so-subtle judgments. "It was as if I'd admitted my favorite restaurant was the Cheesecake Factory, or that I listened to Nickelback," she writes at Pacific Standard. In her essay, Hurley argues that a woman's choice to take her husband's name, or to keep her own, or to combine them, is nobody's business but her own. Either one of those may be the perfect choice, depending on her circumstances. In fact, in some cases, "taking your spouse's name can be an act of self-fashioning—a feminist act, whatever your gender, or theirs."
Some women may be distancing themselves from abuse or other bad memories, others looking to stake out a new personhood for different reasons. The latter applies to Hurley: "For me, it was liberating to forge a new identity," she writes. "I was joining a new family while remaining part of the one that had raised me. I was starting a new phase of life, crossing the threshold from youth to adulthood: Why not mark that transition in the words I use to describe myself?" If your birth name is sacred to you, great, don't change it. But don't automatically assume that anyone who does otherwise "is a hopeless reactionary, religious zealot, or Stepford Wife." Click for Hurley's full column. (Read more surnames stories.)