Over 80 per cent of women still take their husband’s surname, an Australian academic has claimed.
Yvonne Corcoran-Nantes is Head of Women’s Studies at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia.
Speaking to ABC Adelaide, she said the tradition of a woman taking a husband’s surname reflected a longstanding cultural belief that women were the property of men.
“It has a very long history and it has to do with inheritance and property and dating back to when women were property or as good as, and you are actually taken into the husband’s family and therefore you take his name.”
While the majority of women still take their husband’s surname after marriage, most men are firmly opposed to the idea of taking their wife’s name she continued.
“People don’t get too fussed when women take a man’s surname on at marriage, which over 80 per cent of women still do, but get quite uppity if a woman doesn’t want to take a man’s name on.”
She cited a poll by Men’s Health magazine, in which an overwhelming majority of men said they would not take their wife’s surname “even if she asked him to do so”.
Professor Corcoran-Nantes contrasted the situation in English-speaking countries with that in other nations, for example France, where women have been obliged to retain their birth name as their legal name since the 18th Century.
“…it’s illegal in Greece for a woman to take her husband’s name, and the Netherlands for example and those countries, who by custom the women maintain their family names. Malaysia and Korea are two others.”
Meanwhile, double-barrelled names are common in Spanish-speaking countries, giving women a degree of freedom as to which name to “carry into a marriage”.
Photo by Michael Coghlan via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence