Half of Americans Think Women Should Be Required by Law to Take Husband’s Name

Half of Americans Think Women Should Be Required by Law to Take Husband’s Name

Talk about sexist and backwards.

When I was engaged to be married in my early 30s, I told my then-fiance when this topic came up that I was keeping my last name after we married, which out-raged him or greatly annoyed him. He became very argumentative and insisted I take on his last name (which was a tacky and stupid sounding surname).

And for some reason, my then-fiance told his family about this a few days later, and they laughed at him.

I don’t have a problem with women who willingly change their last name to their husband’s surname of their own free will and accord, but I do not agree with women doing this based on social convention, sexism, or pressure from their husband- to- be.

I find it sexist.  For every reason such men (or women who support it) reel off, it comes down to control. People today still think a man should be able to control the women he is married to.

For me, I am in my mid 40s. I’ve had this same last name my whole life – I’m not going to change it to placate some insecure man’s ego. He can get bent.

(Link):  Half of Americans Think Women Should Be Required by Law to Take Husband’s Name by K. Lawson,  Jan 2017

A new study published this month in “Gender Issues” seeks to understand why 70 percent of US adults reported in previous research that they believe a married woman should change her name and half said it should be required by law.


 … Shafer was interested in understanding how people perceived women based on their last name choice, and whether keeping one’s maiden name could cause backlash.

More than 1,200 people from a national sample participated in her survey.
Respondents were introduced in a randomly assigned vignette to the fictional Carol Sherman, Carol Sherman-Cook, or Carol Cook, who is married to Bill Cook: “Carol has been spending a lot of extra hours at her office job hoping for a promotion. Bill is starting to feel burdened by her absence, as he is picking up her slack in housework.”
Respondents were then asked to rate how committed they thought Carol was to being a wife, and assess what standards they held her to. This was determined by answering how many days Carol’s husband should be okay with her working late per week (zero to five) and rating how justified he would be in divorcing her.

Shafer notes that her results were surprising. “Among women and highly educated men, women’s surname choice seems to have little effect on their perceptions of women as a wife or the standards to which she is held in marriage.”

Low-educated men, however, thought a woman who chose a different last name from her husband’s was less committed to the marriage and that her husband would be more justified in filing for a divorce “for her perceived neglect of the marriage (as measured through repeated lateness),” she writes.

… It’s important to understand how people view marital name choices because those attitudes speak to gender attitudes in general, Shafer says. “On a larger level,” she tells Broadly, “there is a body of literature that shows that when women act too agentic—which is to say they act too much like men in the workplace, they act in their own self-interest, if they’re not warm, if they’re good managers—they face backlash in the workplace context. My work shows that women can face backlash at home as well if they’re not acting ‘properly’ as wives.”

Moreover, woman’s decision to take on her husband’s surname is far more than simply a name change, Shafer points out. If that were the case, she says, “why don’t we see even a sizeable minority of men changing their names to their wives’? We still see that it’s the vast majority of women doing it... Clearly, it’s a reflection of our cultural views, that women should put their families ahead of themselves: a view that we don’t have for men.”

When asked what it’s going to take for women to be able to make their own choice—whether they have to do with surnames, reproductive rights, or what have you—without fear of backlash, Shafer says her “pessimistic answer is dismantling the patriarchy.”

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