Half of All U.S. Adults Think the Law Should Require a Woman to Take Her Husband’s Name

(“Why did I fall in love with a guy named Dickbutts?”  iStockPhoto/pvStory)

When it comes to progress, the world always takes two steps forward and then one step back. OK, so lately it seems like we’ve been taking a lot of steps backwards and not actually making any real progress at all. It’s like society is moon-walking away from diversity, logic, science, and mutual respect, and actually gliding backwards into bigotry and regressive gender norms. Or maybe it’s more like those regressive elements are just talking a lot more, and they’re saying things like: “Women should be legally required to take their husband’s names when they get married.”

Apparently a lot of people really think that. According to Bustle’s Megan Grant, research from Portland State University professor Emily Shafer indicates that fully 50 percent of American adults think that it should be illegal for a woman to keep her own surname when she gets married to a man. (It did not indicate what should happen if a woman gets married to another woman. I suspect that would make too many respondents’ heads explode.)

Shaefer says that the most common reason her respondents gave when asked why women should legally be required to change their names is that “she should prioritize her marriage and family ahead of herself.” And that a woman who does not take her husband’s surname is “not as committed to her marriage.”

But the guy doesn’t have to change his name to symbolically prioritize his family ahead of himself? And a man keeping his name is fully committed to the marriage? None of this makes any logical sense at all, but I guess one should stop looking for logic from statements like, “Women should be required by law to take their husbands’ names when they get married.”

This issue is one of the things that just falls apart when you ask too many questions of it. Why is it important for the woman to take the man’s name, but not vice versa? Why do the kids automatically have to have their father’s surname and not their mother’s?

The one argument that always bothers me is the idea that a woman should not be attached to her own birth name because “it’s not really her name, it’s her father’s name.” It’s as though women cannot ever actually have a name at all. We’re just receptacles for other people’s names.

How would this law even work? Considering that most of the people supporting this ridiculous idea were classified as men with lower amounts of education, one assumes they just didn’t give much thought to how this stupid law would be enforced. Would there be a fine? Jail time? How would they even know if a woman took her husband’s surname or not? Would the system rely on a bunch of mothers-in-law being narcs and reporting on their daughters-in-law for not changing their names? If a woman just said no, then what would happen?

The idea that women have to change their names is dumb, and the idea that that sort of patriarchal bullshit should be enshrined in law is even dumber. Not all women want to get married. Not all women want to marry men. And not all women want to change their names, regardless of whom they intend to marry.

Keep your name if you want to. Change your name if you want to, for whatever reason you like, whether that reason is “It sounds pretty” or “I hate my birth name” or “I enjoy the tradition” or “His grandmother is the queen and she says I had to.”

Change your name if you want to. But if anyone ever tries to make it a law, it’s time to get our signs and pitchforks and head to the streets and smash the fucking patriarchy.

H/T Bustle

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