What's in a name? A feminist analysis of critical self-reflection in decision making in heterosexual marriages
LE3 .A278 2015
Bachelor of Arts
This thesis focuses on women’s decisions to take their husband’s last name at marriage, and how this pertains to feminism and marriage equality in heterosexual partnerships. The research examines young Canadian women’s perspectives and attitudes on marital name changing as a widely accepted social norm in North America. Drawing on interviews with 4 women between the ages 19 and 25, and a survey sample of 148 women at a Maritime University, I examine how females self-identity, family, relation to feminism, and socialization of gender roles shape how women view gendered name changing as a marital tradition. The research reveals that the majority of female students at this university, based on the sample, plan to take their husband’s name at marriage. Looking to first, second, and third wave feminism for a foundation of literature and theory, I argue that the decision to continue the tradition of taking the last name of the husband is a product of lack of critical self-reflection as well as a lack of recognition of structural influences. As a result of my findings, I argue a backslide from third wave feminism may play into how young women in the 21st century view gender roles in heterosexual marriages. I call for a new wave of feminism that supports equality within heterosexual marriages.
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