National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

What’s in a Name Change?

Facts of Life

BY The Editors

June 8-14, 2008 Issue | Posted 6/3/08 at 1:17 PM

 

A happy marital tradition is making a quiet but conspicuous comeback. Several recent polls of newlyweds show that a growing majority of brides are taking their groom’s surname after the wedding. Curiously, the trend hasn’t attracted much press notice even though it has been revealed by a wide range of researchers, including poll-takers at Harvard University, the University of Florida, Modern Bride magazine and the wedding planning website theknot.com. Reporting on the findings earlier this year, Vancouver Sun columnist Shelley Fralic wrote that the trend is “turning one of the great hallmarks of feminism on its ear. This, 30 years after a generation of brides defiantly held on to their maiden names in honor of their membership in the Gloria Steinem fan club, and in defiance of a rite they deemed a centuries-old relic of male dominance and societal oppression. … It was a cheeky way to send the message that a wife’s identity shouldn’t be tied up in oven cleaning and child-rearing, or as an adjunct to her husband’s lineage, so millions of new-age feminists chucked convention, put the kids in care and entered the workforce holding fast to their maiden name as proof of their independence and equality.” The reversal of that newly old way can only be a source of security for children who otherwise would have grown up asking, “How come everyone in our family has the same last name except Mom?”

Kevin Bedan illustration