It is not surprising then, that if even at a liberal campus students hold stereotypical gender beliefs when it comes to romantic relationships that a man in Florida who changed his last name to his wife's last name would be accused of fraud. In Florida (and I'm guessing a number of other states), only women can adopt the last name of their husband upon marriage, while men have to file burdensome and costly paperwork to do the same. What is new is that a male Florida resident is challenging this sexist law. In the past, there have apparently not been enough heterosexual couples where the man desires to adopt the female's last name that a policy change has been called upon. Time stands still. Yet, with more states legitimizing marriage for same sex couples, states will have to review their procedures as gender will not provide a go-to hierarchy for property ownership and an automatic loss of identity.
A further illustration of this notion of time and social change was an article published this month in the American Sociological Review. The researchers found that in relationships where men participate in doing more of the stereotypical female household chores, the couples' sexual frequency is less than compared to romantic partnerships with more stereotypical divisions of labor. Because the data that was used in the study was collected more than two decades ago, a conversation ensued about whether the results were still relevant. The optimist in me would like to believe they would not, as much progress in terms of gender equality has been gained in two decades (in fact, the first passing of the Violence Against Women Act was during the time of this data collection). However, as Salon reports, politicians are still siphoning off money from needed social welfare programs to promote the institution of marriage, as some politicians view the decline in marriage as the solution to women's poverty (See this blog post for another rebuttal).
"Congress approved $75 million in spending on marriage promotion activities and $75 million for responsible fatherhood initiatives. This, of course, does not include the cost of marriage to individuals themselves (the average American wedding costs over $27,000, according to Reuters). That’s a lot to spend on an institution with a known failure rate of about 50 percent." BY MADELEINE SCHWARTZ, L.A. REVIEW OF BOOKS