It's 2018 and, as a society, we tend to think that we've made advancements in breaking down gender stereotypes and norms. But, alas, that's not really so. In fact, a recent article from The Atlantic points out that an overwhelming majority of Americans still think that women should take their husband's last name when they marry.
The story, which addresses why more men don't do the opposite and take their wife's last name after a trip to the altar, references a 2011 study about marital name changes and gender attitudes. In it, researchers found that 72 percent of adults in the United States think that a woman should hand over her maiden name when she gets married in favor of her husband's last name. That's a truly substantial number, particularly given how many women have asserted themselves in careers long before they become betrothed. When you've established yourself under a maiden name for years in the workplace, it can be a bit of a pickle taking on a different name years into your career.
What's even more astonishing than the 72 percent of Americans who think a woman should take a married name is that half go a step further. Fifty percent of those surveyed actually believe it should be a legal requirement for a woman to take her husband's name.
It's not like these figures were purely male-dominated. The research team interviewed both men and women on gender attitudes and marital names.
For many traditionalists it totally makes sense. Taking your husband's name doesn't have to mean you're making a statement. It's just simply a way to to make your union public and have your growing family fall under one moniker. But for others, those who are uncomfortable with essentially wiping away the notion of their pre-marriage selves by dropping their maiden name, it can feel awkward and unsettling.
And if you're wondering how many men are willing to take their wife's name after marriage, well, that statistic isn't very high. A study out of Portland State University questioned 877 heterosexual married men and less than three percent chose to change their last name to that of their wife.
Will we ever find middle ground in the marital name game? Only time will tell. But, hey, at least we currently have the choice to make for ourselves.