10.10.2010

Names

Here’s a study on names (you can access the entire study from the website given here/above) that has received lots of attention—Psychology Today, The New York Times, etc. it was conducted in The Netherlands and so probably cannot be directly applied to the United States. Yet, its findings (or “hypotheses” for study in other cultures) are most interesting. The study focuses on the perceptions people have of women as a result of their changing (or not changing) their name to that of their husbands’. For example, the study found that women who took on their husbands’ names or created hyphenated names were perceived as more dependent, emotional, and caring and less intelligent, competent, and ambitious than women who kept their own names. Even more interesting is the finding that a female job applicant who took used her husband’s name was less likely to be hired than the woman who kept her own name. It will be interesting to see if there’s any effect to Portia de Rossi’s taking the name of her wife, Ellen DeGeneres, and becoming Portia Lee James DeGeneres.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

maestra replying:

I have a close friend from high school who has a hyphenated surname, the first part of which is her maiden name and the second part of which is the surname of her former husband (the father of her two children). They have been divorced for over 25 years, but she still keeps her surname this way. She is far from being a dependent or less intelligent woman. She is extremely independent, self-driven, and highly intelligent. She was a teacher for many years, has authored at least seven books, and is the process of researching and writing two other books. I don't know if she is an exception to the rule, but she certainly doesn't fit the description put forth in the article.

The other thing is concerning women in other cultures taking or not taking the surnames of their husbands once married. In Italy, women keep their maiden names throughout their lives, even if they are married. Maintaining their maiden names after marriage has nothing to do with what kind of person they are. It has to do with what tradition dictates and their laws allow or do not allow. I don't believe there is any legal way for a woman in Italy, once married, to legally change her surname to that of her new husband. (I know that notaries can legally change the surname of an abandoned child, if the natural parents return to claim it, and then the invented surname of the child is replaced by the surname of the natural father). I'm not sure if notaries can also change the surname of a female once married. Some Italian women, once married, might get around what their law permits by writing "in" plus the husband's surname after their maiden names, but I think the number of Italian women who do this is minimal. Even when I received my one great grandmother's 1958 death certificate from Italy, she was recorded with her maiden name and the certificate read that she was the "widow of" followed by her deceased husband's first and last name.

Anonymous said...

maestra replying:

I just found out the following from a woman acquaintance in Italy:

a woman can use her husband's surname unofficially, but on all official documents her surname is always her maiden name.

as to a woman using "in" plus the surname of her husband:

"using the "in" or "ved." (standing for vedova = widowed) is an old habit still in use and it's legal. This only happens on obituaries and on voting lists and only for women."

Residentx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Residentx said...

Let's look at this comment critically, what proof is there that women are thought of as less when they adopt their husbands names? Me personally, when I see women using their name, I question their commitment to their marriages. I'm not saying that women can't do what they want with "their" names but this action can be interpreted very differently based on who is seeing this. Also, I would probably not marry a woman who wanted to keep her last name.

Anonymous said...

I was shocked to find this insulting and degrading topic in my COLLEGE TEXT BOOK! HOW OFFENSIVE to women!! I can't believe that in this day and age a college text book would want to publicly call out the fact that when women, who have been subjugated for millennia by men, choose to express their personal freedom in a PERSONAL and PRIVATE relationship they have to succumb to it being a "topic" open for discussion. You wouldn't ask an African American how they feel about their last name possibly being a slave name, would you? I think not!! I am certainly bringing this to the attention of the editors at Pearson's. How sad and inappropriate! And to respond to the previous comment about them not marring a women who wouldn't take their last name, don't worry, sounds like only an idiot who likes to be subjugated would marry you!

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