Want to keep your name when you get married? According to a bunch of young Midwesterners in a new study, that means you don't really love your husband.
LiveScience reports that researchers noticed a lot of previous work on name-changing attitudes focused on East-Coasters — like, say, people whose marriages were announced in the New York Times. To see what other folks thought, they looked at surveys of about 250 students from a small Midwestern university, taken in 1990 and again in 2006. The 1990 students were pretty forgiving of crazy bluestockings who wanted to keep their own names: just 2.7% of them thought it meant the ladies were less committed to their marriages. But among students surveyed in 2006, that number jumped to 10.1%. The study authors noted that theirs was not a nationally representative sample, but it does show students at one particular college becoming more conservative over time: "This might just be reflecting this increased polarization we're seeing in American society, and it's coming across in terms of family and gender values."
The study also found something potentially instructive: women who actually planned on keeping their names didn't feel they were any less committed to marriage. So basically, the idea that keeping your name means you're not really in love is entirely an assumption made by outsiders. These kinds of assumptions are behind a lot of conservative stereotypes: that all gay men are predatory perverts, for instance, or that all women who get abortions are thoughtless, irresponsible sluts. And this study suggests that if judgy folks would just talk to the groups they're judging, they might learn something.
Not Taking Hubby's Name? You May Be Judged Harshly [LiveScience]
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