The New York Times found in a 2015 analysis that around 70% of women in the United States take on their husband’s family name upon marriage, a number that suggests an allegiance to a cultural paradigm that has existed since medieval times.
Simon Duncan, a professor of family life at the University of Bradford in the U.K. who has been studying male-name taking, affirmed the patriarchal undertones that are associated with women embracing a man’s surname.
“It is quite surprising…[that a large number of women adopt the man’s name] since it comes from patriarchal history, from the idea that a woman, on marriage, became one of the man’s possessions,” Duncan said, according to the BBC.
“Is this just a harmless tradition, or is there some sort of meaning leaking from those times to now?” he asked.
After a fierce Twitter debate inspired by a user asking, “y’all be marrying women who don’t want your last name?????” people shared their own opinions of the name-taking tradition.
Y’all be marrying women who don’t want your last name?????
— Brad Jordan (@504carsonst) April 21, 2021