According to an article in the Chicago Tribune today, 88 percent of women take their husband’s last name when they marry.
In a survey of 18,000 couples married last year, 88 percent of women reported changing their names, said Rebecca Dolgin, executive editor of theknot.com, a popular wedding Web site.
The practice may feel like an affront to women who endured years of raised eyebrows when they kept their names as a statement of equality. But modern brides and those who study women's issues say it may actually be a celebration of strides women have made since the 1970s and early 1980s.
"I think that there was a point in time where women felt very strongly that they had to [keep their names] to assert their feminist leanings or to say that women are equal to men," Dolgin said. "Now, women are a little more comfortable and it's not as threatening to them."
I am married, and I did not change my name. I didn’t even consider it—I figured that I already had a name and it was working fine for me. But about half of my women friends who are married have changed their names. I find it a bit baffling, but they do it for all sorts of reasons.
However, a recent study by the Center for Survey Research at Indiana University reports that 71 percent of Americans think women should take their spouse's name after marriage. And not only that, but around half said there should be a legal requirement to do so. Yikes!
"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."
Many people say that they are creating a family identity by everyone having one name. I respect that. The thing I don’t go for is the assumption that it is the woman who will change her name. What about men changing their names? Or both people changing their names? And I wonder if gay couples getting married in greater numbers will change this issue?