When a man asks a woman, “Will you marry me?” an answer is often very close to the tip of her tongue. But when asked, “Will you take my surname?” it’s likely there will be more deliberation involved. Although, once upon a time there used to be no question that a woman would shed her surname and assume her husband’s, but today, the standing of the tradition is a little more complicated
For the first time, a new study has looked at how men are perceived when their wife chooses to keep her surname.
In a three-part study conducted in the U.S. and U.K., researchers concluded that men whose wives keep their own surnames after marriage, are seen as submissive and less powerful in the relationship.
“We know from prior research that people high in hostile sexism respond negatively to women who violate traditional gender roles,” Rachael D. Robnett, one of the study’s authors said. “Our findings show that they also apply stereotypes to nontraditional women’s husbands.”
Although it might feel like more women are rejecting their husband’s surname and either keeping their own, create a double-barrel name, or design a hybrid surname, it’s still far more popular to assume a husband’s surname. In fact, more than 80 percent of women take their husband’s surnames after marriage. Meanwhile, 96 percent of children are given the father’s surname.
When did women start taking their husbands’ last name?
The tradition of taking a husband’s surname, according to head of women’s studies at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, associate professor Yvonne Corcoran-Nantes, is dated back to a time when women were only seen as property (oh, nice).
“It has a very long history and it has to do with inheritance and property and dating back to when women were property or as good as, and you are actually taken into the husband’s family and therefore you take his name,” Corcoran-Nantes explained to 891 ABC Adelaide.
Of course, it’s a personal decision whether to keep your surname or to change it after marriage, but you have to admit, it’s pretty amazing how deeply rooted we are in old traditions that lend such little favor to women.
This post was written by Bettina Tyrrell. For more, check out our sister site Now to Love.