Can Saying “I Do” and Feminism Go ‘Hand in Hand’?

vintage brideWeddingdays.co.uk surveyed 200 engaged women to find out if, and if so how, feminism may be present in modern day weddings. The study concluded that “feminist weddings” are in fact something that many heterosexual couples are choosing. Of the 200 surveyed, 52 women indicated that they did not intend to fully change their last name, which would include hyphenation.

Aside from the discussion of name change, other traditions such as engagement rings, veils, and the classic white dress are also becoming far less common.

Another related study via Facebook, which included 14 million married women, yielded some contradictory responses to the aforementioned. Just over 9 million respondants had changed their last name on their profile.

Surprisingly enough, a 2011 study from A Journal of Economics claimed that it’s more so us young gaffers (ages 20-24) who are following the tradition of taking the male’s name. The findings indicated that women in their mid to late thirties were 6.4-times more likely to keep their maiden name… curiouser and curiouser.

Does that sound accurate so far? Keep in mind that these results are taken predominantly from the United States, but regardless, remain an interesting discussion point for Canadian women.

Finally, a THIRD study by TheKnot, also from 2011 which included 19,000 women, found that a mere 8% of brides kept their maiden names (down from the 23% from studies conducted in the 90’s). It would seem that the 1990’s saw feminism as a flourishing trend, or, in my opinion, the first generation where women could take a complete full-chested breath and call themselves a feminist without indefinitely being assumed a radical “bra-burner”.

Some women who have, for various reasons, chosen to keep their maiden names have expressed feelings of disconnect wherein they feel that they have two identities – them as an individual, and them as a member of their family.

As a 22 year old engaged woman, I can attest that I am definitely at a crossroads in my decision whether or not to change my last name, and here is my theory as to why others may be feeling the same:

Feminism has come in waves where women have worked towards achieving goals subsequent to the issues of that time period, and as with all social movements, peoples’ perceptions and opinions evolve over time and see various stages of acceptance. Since the 90’s, when the choice to keep one’s maiden name was often related to empowerment, feminists have been addressing issues less oriented toward fighting for basic rights and freedoms. Thus many males in their 20’s have been raised in a more woman-friendly environment, internalizing the concept of equality. When it was an expectation for women to change their maiden name, it was something to push against…. however with far fewer of these pressures, keeping or changing one’s maiden name may not be considered as significant a concern.

What do you think?

(Thanks to Time and Google Images )

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