Thursday, April 29, 2010

Read and learn: Sandra Bullock kept her own name and won the Oscar!

This story from the Globe and Mail, "Married women should say ‘I don’t’ to changing their name, study suggests," has me all sorts of annoyed.* Among other things, it says:
Women who take their partner’s name are regarded as more caring but less intelligent, less competent and less ambitious, researchers from the Netherlands discovered. Moreover, they’re less likely to be hired for a job and are perceived to earn much less at work than those who keep their own name.
Let's work on the assumption that that is true. How messed up is that? "Oh, if I'd only not changed my name, I would be more competent and intelligent and ambitious and make more money because other people would view me differently even though it's just a name."

But then the story says:
In a four-part study titled “What’s in a Name?”, social psychologists at Tilburg University found that Dutch women who adopted their partner’s name actually possessed different characteristics than those who kept their own, supporting previous U.S. research.

On average, those who had changed their name were older, had lower educational levels, had more children and held more conservative family values. And although they tended to display a stronger work ethic, they also worked fewer hours per week and earned a lower salary than those who did not change their names.
So it's not really about the name then, is it. It's about the women. As in, some women are different from others! And they do different things! And even think differently! And all of those things can lead to outcomes that aren't exactly the same!

WHY do we constantly see study after study about trivial bullshit like this regarding women? Is there a study in this world that looks at how people perceive men who marry women who do or don't change their names? How about the men who change their names to their wife's last name? (It happens.) I mean, I get that the name decision in marriage can "say something" about you. I also get why people do and don't change their names. There are so many reasons to do it and to not do it. It's a personal decision, and I hate the idea that there's some stupid "study" out there that says "hey, don't do it because you'll be perceived in this negative way." As if there are no negative perceptions about not changing your name. Just ... ugh. Let people be.

As an aside, for the love of our raised fists, how do we do away with the term "maiden name"? Is that not one of the most outdated terms still used in everyday life? (And, you know, for security purposes? WHY is that?)

NOTE: This is reposted from my Tumblr blog.

*Disclaimer: I am not married.

1 comment:

Heather Freeman said...

Whenever some company asks my husband for my maiden name, he asks if they need his too (we both changed our names when we got married). They always get so confused.

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