Our current practice in the U.S. actually reflects the earlier legal reality of coverture: In the process of the "two becoming one flesh," the wife lost her rights to property, legal representation in court, and even her public identity as her husband became the sole representative for the family. This combination of identities (or, rather, the wife becoming lost in her husband's identity) led to wives taking their husbands' last names. For me, losing my surname would have represented silent assent to this oppressive practice.
I was in a "webinar" (live online presentation thingy) recently with Erica Chenoweth from Wesleyan University.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
--William Butler Yeats, from "The Second Coming"