While more and more women are choosing to keep their maiden name after marriage than ever before, new research shows that our perceptions of these women are still very much stuck in the past.
Three independent surveys, analysed by The New York Times, found there has been a steady increase in the number of women keeping their maiden names since the year 2000. And it’s a trend that was not observed before 2000.
Why? Maybe it’s the hefty divorce rate making women scared of tying themselves to a person for eternity.
Perhaps it’s to do with women standing up to a tradition that’s about ownership and lost-identity.
But most likely, we’ve come to realise how marriage can be just as wholesome and rewarding and filled-with-love (or arguments) when two people have two different names.
Whatever the reason… For the rest of society, it’s not that simple.
Can you outsource your wedding vows? Post continues below.
Researchers at the University of Nevada in the U.S. have published a study in Springer’s journal Sex Roles that shows how society perceives men differently when their wives don’t take their last name.
“When a woman chooses not to take her husband’s surname after marriage, people perceive her husband as being higher in traits related to femininity and lower in traits related to masculinity,” the report states. “He is also perceived as having less power in the relationship.”
The researchers quizzed UK and US-based undergraduates using a series of online surveys. Participants were asked to answer questions about the personality of a hypothetical husband whose wife opted to keep her maiden name after marrying.
This is what they found:
“A woman’s marital surname choice has implications for perceptions of her husband’s instrumentality, expressivity, and the distribution of power in the relationship,” lead author Rachael Robnett of the University of Nevada told Science Daily.
“Our findings indicate that people extrapolate from marital surname choices to make more general inferences about a couple’s gender-typed personality traits.”
To make things more depressing, not only are married couples with different surnames treated differently, they also face more hostility.
“We know from prior research that people high in hostile sexism respond negatively to women who violate traditional gender roles,” Robnett said. “Our findings show that they also apply stereotypes to nontraditional women’s husbands.”
Just when we thought we were getting somewhere…