REAL TALK: In the 21st Century, Why Do Some Wives Still Feel Obligated to Take Their Husband’s Name?

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Wake up! We are in 2011. Women are no longer owned by their father and then their husband. So why are some women still changing their surnames? And why do some men still want them to? It’s sad, it’s misogynous, it’s archaic, it’s insecure and it’s unnecessary.

Why would you do something so drastic simply because you decided to delude yourself it was easier? Because you are deeply insecure, deeply conservative or deeply stupid. And in deep denial.

I ask women why they change their last name. They tell me “it’s just easier”. It’s not. How easy is it changing the name on everything from your driver’s license to your library card? It’s not. Many of the families I know have up to three different surnames and have no problem at all.

If people really believe that mom, dad and the kids having the same surname is easier, why doesn’t the guy change his name? Why don’t they flip a coin and it’s heads we go for her surname and tails we go for his? Because it is not about it being easier. It makes me despair. We’ve come all this way and we’re still here.

Many women will say that their husbands wanted them to change their surname. So they did. Here’s a flash for you sister: if you do everything that your husband wants you to do, you may find yourself teetering around in a pair of stilettos and an apron all day saying, “Shall I fix some more food for you and the boys?”

Thanks to feminism, women should be allowed and encouraged to do anything they want. But the question I ask is why do some women still want to change their surnames?

According to Psychology Today magazine, about 70% of Americans believe that it is beneficial for a woman to take her husband’s last name when they marry, and, more surprisingly, about 50% of Americans think that the government should require women to do so. From an evolutionary biological perspective, it doesn’t matter whether the woman takes the man’s last name, the man takes the woman’s last name, or the man and the woman each keep their last name after marriage, as long as the children take the father’s last name.

Paternity uncertainty is a significant adaptive problem for males who make extensive parental investment in their offspring (as men do). How can men ever be sure that the children that their wives have given birth to are genetically theirs? Men who are cuckolded, and invest in the genetic offspring of another man, lose both the resources they invest in the children and an opportunity to pass on their genes to their own genetic offspring.

The convention of giving the child the father’s last name is another means for the mother and her kin to convince the father of his paternity. Even in societies where the married women routinely keep their last names when they get married, or even among many western professional couples these days where the woman keeps her name after marriage, the children are almost always given their father’s, not their mother’s, last name.

-Psychology Today magazine

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