A rose by any surname
Although most misters and Mrs believe that "Mrs" is an abbreviation for "mistress" - the old English feminine form of "mister", which in turn originally meant "master" - there are others who hold that "Mrs" is just "Mr's" without the apostrophe. Yes, some believe that the very title of a married woman comes from the possessive form of "Mr", and implies that his woman is his possession.
The suffragettes have brought us a long way. Women can vote, wear pants, go to university, have kids and jobs, and even open their own bank accounts. With all this freedom (though with kids and a job that's debateable) many married women are still choosing to change their surnames after marriage, and take on their husbands'.
Some women argue that there's philosophically no difference when you change your name - that a woman who takes on her husband's surname exchanges an identity inextricably linked to her father to one that's inextricably linked to her husband.
In fact, the western marriage ceremony is symbolic of this transfer of ownership when the father "gives" his child "away" .
Fiona Snyckers, author of chick-lit novels Trinity Rising and Trinity on Air, admits that she has no strong feelings either way about whether women should keep their names after marriage: "The system is patriarchal anyway because you just swop your father's surname for your husband's surname," she says. "I was motivated to change my surname by the fact that I got married young, age 25, before I'd established my reputation as a writer. I also wanted to have the same surname as the children I hoped to have one day and didn't fancy going the double-barreled route."
But what if you already have an identity with the name you have? "I think if you have set up a professional reputation under your maiden name then you have a strong motivation to keep it," says Snyckers.
Editor of Women24.com Sam Wilson decided to stick with her surname, even though, like Snyckers, she married young.
"It wasn't a very hard decision to make at the time; I was 22, working in a feminist NGO and was marrying a foreigner whose surname sounded like the noise you make before you hawk something terribly unsavoury into a basin. The decision to stick with that generic favourite, Wilson, seemed a total no-brainer."
Lately, Wilson is reconsidering: "Now that I have two primary school sons with a different surname to me, and everyone calls me 'Mrs Wilson' [who is my mom, for goodness' sake] and at PTA meetings people comment on how amazingly 'my ex' and I get along. Yes, I have had second thoughts. But screw it. Sam Wilson is who I am!"
It's convenient and unifying for family members to have the same last names. "My response to my fiance when he told me that he wanted us to have the same name was 'Great, me too, so why don't you change your last name?'" writer Rebecca Scarlett says provocatively.
"I do honestly think it would be nice for my fiance and I, and all of our future children, to have the same last name. It symbolises that we are a team, a family. However, I love my last name; it goes well with my first name, it has been part of my identity all of my life, and I'm proud of my family."
Editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, Vanessa Raphaely, admits that she's in a quandary regarding the subject: "I got married quite old and had worked professionally all my adult life, so I wanted to keep the identity I'd built up. Like most things in my life though, an epiphany was prompted by my children. When they started going to school I wanted us all to have the same surname, yet the feminist in me still riled against giving up my identity. Then I remembered that the name that I'm struggling to protect is just my father's name anyway.
"There's no clear-cut answer for me on this issue. It raises serious political and gender issues about who we are as women. But I've discovered that part of changing from an independent woman to a mother is changing from an independent being to being part of a whole. I have retained my identity but I have also submerged myself into the identity of being a mother. In fact, I don't think of myself as a Mrs or a Ms, I think of myself as Max, Milla and Leo's mom."
Outspoken radio talk show host Redi Tlhabi has simplified the reasons why she took on her husband's surname: "I like it. That's it. If I didn't or if it had funny connotations I wouldn't have chosen to adopt it."
The truth is, the practice of women keeping their names is relatively new and it's still finding its feet. There are many debates and negotiations to be had, if only to avoid the forever expanding double, triple and quadruple barrelled surname.
Comedienne Tumi Morake has her own original take on the issue: "I reckon if your man paid cows then you do right by him and change your surname," she says. "I did. Now my maiden name has become my stage name and that is the only time it applies. At the end of the day it is a union, and you decide if you are a general missus or a particular missus so and so. My parents married me off, I am no longer theirs, so why should I hold on to their name?"