Half Of All Adults Think Women Should Be Required By Law To Do This When They Get Married

It's 2017, not 1817.

Half Of America Thinks Married Women Legally Required To Take Husband's Last Name Getty Images

If what we’ve seen lately in the news about the political landscape in America has taught us anything, it’s that men who have confessed to sexual assault and are lying xenophobes get to become president while women have to fight even for the right to protest inequality and the control of their bodies.

Case in point?

A 2017 study revealed that fully half of adults in the US believe that a woman should be required to take her husband’s name after marriage. As in by law, or she can be legally punished.


Please explain to me again how women don’t need to march for their rights?

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Emily Shafer, the researcher in charge of this disturbing study, uncovered even more dismaying beliefs in the course of her research, which, to be honest, isn’t that much of a shocker given its context.


Namely, she discovered that people really, honestly think — as in, years after we fought for our rights to vote and wear pants and work, gals — that when a woman gets married, she needs to change her last name to signify to the world that she’s prioritizing her family and marriage above herself.

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I wish I was kidding, but no.

Apparently, a woman being proud of her last name and her identity is just too much for these people.

Many polled men who hadn’t completed much education — which is the least surprising part of this study — even went so far as to suggest that when a lady won’t take her husband's last name, it’s because she’s actually not committed to the marriage.


According to this study, those same men (surprise, surprise) felt that they would be completely “justified in filing for divorce if the wife works too much.”

Let’s take a little look at the history of taking your spouse’s name.

The only reason that women started taking their husband’s names wasn’t because it was sweet or a sign of merging into one family, or even to be less confusing on credit applications — no, it was because we ladies were basically one step above cattle, often used only as a means of producing heirs and little else.

In fact, women were just being sold from their fathers to their new husbands, and it was basically a way to put a stamp of ownership on your new baby-maker.


In the modern era, you see more of professional women keeping their names or hyphenating them. Some women even make their middle name their former maiden name, in some cases. And I cannot state this enough: that is perfectly fine.

There is no financial, legal, or necessary reason for women to take her husband’s name after getting married in this day and age. It’s a choice that should be between a woman and her husband, and it’s time for America to get with the program and remember that women aren’t property.

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Keeping your last name does not devalue the commitment that you made to your spouse, and women are allowed to work, vote, wear pants, curse, spit, and be as professional or domestic as they want, because even if lesser-educated men won’t acknowledge it, it doesn’t change the fact that we are their equals and deserve our rights.


Even if that right is just to keep our last names as they are because we’re proud of the woman that grew up with that name.

Now come on, people.

Let’s move out of the dark ages and into the future, please, and leave these nonsensical beliefs behind where they belong, because I’m going to pull a muscle from all this eye-rolling I’ve had to do lately.


Merethe Najjar is a professional writer, editor, and fiction author living in Atlanta, GA with her husband and their wonderful rescue cat. She graduated with a degree in creative writing and recently had her first sci-fi romance novel Mercury in Retrograde published. You can also find her on her website, MeretheWalther.com, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted on November 1, 2017 and was updated with the latest information.