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’80 per cent of women still take husband’s name’

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.

She added:

“…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”.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Luke says:

    Marriage survives on tradition and the sense most people have of that is very strong in the UK, if it wasn’t I don’t think many men would get married here because I can’t think of a single rational reason why the vast majority of men would do it.
    Embedded in that tradition in the UK is the family taking the man’s name. Yvonne Corcoran-Nantes is your typical third/fourth wave feminist so it is not surprising she gets worked up by such a ‘first world’ issue.
    Of course nobody has to take anybody’s name but then nobody has to get married in the first place and if a couple are going to have a problem deciding on the name(s) they are going to use that is a massive red flag for the relationship in general in my opinion.
    So my recommendation is that if a woman wants her man to take her name and he won’t do it then stop moaning about it and find the kind of man who wants to have a relationship where you are dominant on such issues.

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