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Another Reason Institutionalized Couplehood SUCKS October 7, 2009

Posted by Onely in Academic Alert!, As If!, Just Saying., Look What Google Barfed Up.
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Because it breeds sexism!

According to an 11 August 2009 article in USA Today, fifty percent of Americans think that a woman should be required by the federal government to take her husband’s last name

How. F&king. Scary. The institution of marriage–and I’m talking about the federally sponsored institution–allows people to put men and women in boxes according to roles defined hundreds of years ago, when things were very different in society (no good birth control, no good jobs for women, no IPod Nano). 

The study was done by researchers from Indiana University and the University of Utah, who asked “about 815 people a combination of multiple choice and open-ended questions to come up with the find”. The USA Today article doesn’t say exactly who the respondents were. My sister–possibly in an attempt to get me to stop hyperventilating–pointed out that given the involvement of U of Utah, there might have been a large number of Mormons participating, which would possibly skew the results toward a more conservative view of gender roles (not that we know much about Mormonism). 

I’m afraid it’s more likely that the researchers–presumably not fools themselves–selected from a relatively wide demographic more representative of the nation than, say, Mormon college students. I wanted to do the Bella DePaulo thing and go to the original study, but I couldn’t find it after a search of ASAnet and EBSCO and U of Indiana, and I was too weak from the hyperventilating to continue looking further. If anyone knows where  I can go to read the original study write-up, please let me know. Otherwise, I will be forced to continue to view 50 percent of my country’s population as ignorant dinks. Help help! 

And lest you think I’m being a little harsh, check out some of these quotes from survey respondents, as related to the New York Daily Mail by lead researcher Linda Hamilton: 

When the respondents were asked why they felt women should change their name after the wedding, Hamilton says, “They told us that women should lose their own identity when they marry and become a part of the man and his family. This was a reason given by many.”

“They said the mailman would get confused and that society wouldn’t function as well if women did not change their name,” Hamilton says.

“Asked if they thought of a lesbian couple as a family, those who believe that women should take their husband’s name are less likely to say yes,” she says. “If you’re more liberal about the name change issue, you tend to include a larger population in the definition of family.”

According to the USA TODAY article, Hamilton, a sociology researcher at Indiana University, found the finding “really interesting”. She makes an excellent point: “Because [the name change issue] is not politicized, people just answer the question without really thinking about it. It sort of taps into people’s views about all kinds of things.” Did the survey yank back the veil of political correctness and reveal the pock-marked face of America? Ok, that’s a slightly sexist metaphor, but at least I’m not saying the pockmarked bride should be required to take her husband’s name!  

My ex-boyfriend R said that if we got married, he’d want me to take his last name as a sign of caring and commitment (or some such). I disagreed and fortunately the conversation–which remained relatively light–wandered to  other topics. R was raised in a conservative household (they watched Rush Limbaugh), and although he eventually moved much further leftward, obviously he was not as far left as I was on women’s issues.

Copious Readers, here are your discussion questions: Do you know how to find out who the 800+ study respondents were? Should more women be encouraged to keep their last names? Why don’t more men change their last names to express care and commitment toward their wives? When a gay couple gets married, does one person change their name and if so, how do they decide who? If not, then can we use these gay couples as examples of how to avoid logistical difficulties in a two-name family? If one train leaves from New York travelling west at 50 m.p.h. and another train leaves Houston travelling northeast at. . .  


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