A recent study reports that today, in 2009, 71% of Americans think women should take their spouses name after marriage — and half of the respondents said the act should be a legal requirement!
Researchers from Indiana University and University of Utah say these findings come despite a clear shift to more gender-neutral language. “The figures were a bit sobering for us because there seems to be change in so many areas. If names are a core aspect of our identity, this is important,” said Brian Powell, professor of sociology at IU Bloomington. “There are all these reports and indicators that families are changing, that men are contributing more, that we’re moving toward a more equal family, yet there’s no indication that we’re seeing a similar move to equality when it comes to names.”
Laura Hamilton, the Indiana University associate professor who lead study, was interviewed at NYDailyNews:
When the respondents were asked why they felt women should change their name after the wedding, Hamilton says, “They told us that women should lose their own identity when they marry and become a part of the man and his family. This was a reason given by many.”
Other respondents said they felt the marital name change was essential for religious reasons or as a practical matter.
“They said the mailman would get confused and that society wouldn’t function as well if women did not change their name,” Hamilton says.
Americans who feel that women should take their husband’s last name also tend to be conservative in other areas, according to Hamilton.
“Asked if they thought of a lesbian couple as a family, those who believe that women should take their husband’s name are less likely to say yes,” she says. “If you’re more liberal about the name change issue, you tend to include a larger population in the definition of family.”