Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The Last Name Project
American women today are afforded many opportunities that our mothers and grandmothers fought to give us. We've made significant achievements in the realm of education, politics, business, and the workplace. Family structures and roles are also changing, with many men participating more in caregiving and household responsibilities.
But everything isn't perfect. As any feminist knows, an increase in opportunities doesn't mean parity. The fact that men are participating more in caregiving doesn't mean they're sharing it equally. Sexism, coupled with an array of patriarchal systems and structures, makes achieving equality difficult and often forces the "choices" that we, as women, make.
One of the choices that confronts women is what to do with their last name upon marriage. Despite a growing number of women and couples who opt to subvert the normative (especially among academics), around three-fourths of heterosexual brides in the U.S. take their husband's name and believe that other women should too. A growing number of women even think it should be illegal for a woman to not take her husband's last name.* Changing your name to your husband's is still, therefore, a cultural norm. And whether they choose to take their husband's, hyphenate, keep their own, or create a new one, the choice is frequently one with a tremendous amount of symbolism and meaning, both for a woman, her partner, and the rest of society.
In this new series co-hosted by from two to one and The Feminist Mystique, we will be profiling an array of individuals and couples about their last name decisions upon marriage or what they expect to choose if they marry. The goal is to explore how individuals make decisions about their last name, and to highlight the many possibilities. We will be posting profiles periodically and encourage you to stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. If you would like to participate in this series, email Danielle at danielle [at] fromtwotoone [dot] com or Shannon at hill [dot] shannonp [at] gmail [dot] com.
*I read this on Jezebel awhile ago, but despite my best sleuthing skills, cannot seem to find a link.