Yes, half. You read that right.
Hey, ladies who like making their own decisions for themselves, more bad news for you: A study has found that right around half of all adults in the U.S. think you should be required by law to take your husband’s last name after you marry him.
During a time when women are fighting for the most basic levels of autonomy both at work and at home, finding out that half the people you know may think there needs to be a legal requirement in place that forces women into something as trivial as taking their husbands’ last named is shocking enough. But the reasons that participants in the study gave for having that opinion are even scarier. The most common reason that cropped up during the study was that a woman needs to prioritize the marriage and the family ahead of herself, and for some reason, changing her last name signifies that she is doing so (?). Participants who thought that also tended to believe that women who don’t take their husbands’ last names aren’t as committed to the marriage. Oh, and the majority of those were uneducated men. Shocker, right?
Can we just talk for a minute about the raging hypocrisy of the patriarchy right now? Never in history has it been expected that men change their names, to show commitment to their wives or for any other reason. Why is it just accepted that men are committed to their marriages without making some symbolic but ultimately empty gesture? Why can’t we accept that women are similarly committed without making them jump through weird hoops?
And how does this apply to same-sex marriages? When two men or two women marry, how do you determine which one needs to change his or her name in order to stay committed to the union?
And then there’s the issue of how a law like that would even be enforced. What happens to a woman who breaks the law and doesn’t change her name? Does she just get a ticket? Does she pay a fine? Perform community service or serve jail time? Are we all starting to see yet how completely ludicrous this idea is?
This certainly isn’t to say that women should never take their husbands’ last names. That’s a deeply personal decision that a woman should make for herself. That part’s important, so I’m going to say it again: that a woman should make for herself. The bottom line here is that women are actually independent, thinking, feeling beings who are perfectly capable of deciding what to do with their own careers, their own bodies, and, yes, even their own names.