NEWLYWEDS in the US are "meshing" their names in an attempt to banish the sexism that comes when a woman takes her husband's surname.
Much as Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have been christened "Tomkat", couples are mixing elements of their names as a sign of togetherness.
Gary Ruderman, 43, a playwright and architect, married Jodi Wilgoren, a writer for The New York Times, last year. The couple now go by the name of Rudoren. Mr Ruderman's wife-to-be had said she would love to share his name but on an egalitarian basis.
"I have a lot of respect for Jodi, so I considered it," he said. "Very few people I talked to said, 'Oh, that's stupid'. My mother has taken to introducing me as her son Gary Rudoren."
One name-meshing pioneer is Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who combined the name of Villar with his wife's name of Raigosa in 1988.
His wife, Corina, recalled: "He said, 'I've been thinking about it and why don't we combine our names to make one name? If you are willing to take my name, I should be willing to take yours'."
The feminist custom of retaining one's maiden name is going out of fashion. A study by Harvard University economics professor Claudia Goldin found the number of college-educated women in Massachusetts who kept their name at marriage dropped from 23 per cent in 1990 to 17 per cent in 2000.
Those who hyphenate their surnames often give up. "They have these long names and they have problems with the school district or the plumber," Professor Goldin said.