What`s in a surname, especially after getting married?

By Ritu Singh | Last Updated: Monday, June 2, 2014 - 18:35
 
Ritu Singh
Waiting for Godot
 

I am witnessing a recurring phenomenon whenever I log on to my Facebook account. I often get confused with the new female names that keeps cropping on my timeline. It takes me a while to finally realise what`s happening. Oh! Someone has got married. Congratulations! But why do you have to surrender your last name and dismantle your identity in the name of love?

Seriously women! What`s wrong with you?

After getting married, most women across the world choose to change their last names. Some take on their spouse`s last name, and some combine last names. This doltish tradition has been there since time immemorial and I feel is a marker of servitude and inequality. Statistics say that over 90% women change their last names after marriage. That is indeed, a disturbing figure.

What`s in a name, you ask me? Think again! It is your identity and the echo which situates you in this world.

Your name is the most intimate and personal aspect of your being. Doesn`t it feel weird to you when you cut half of the marker of your identity and find an alien name dangling beside your first name? Don`t you realise that you will take this supposed `real name` that you acquire after marriage to your grave?

Most women see it as a romantic gesture and as a proof of their undying love and devotion to their new husbands and most of them are quite happy to do so not realising what it does to the female psyche. To my feminist sensibility, I see it as a gross violation of one`s identity. And I am not talking of the cases where women change their last names because of the enormous social pressure, but of the cases where well educated, empowered women do that. It`s because the patriarchal mindset is so entrenched and deeply imbibed within women`s minds that they are not able to break free from it.

When you change your name, you give the other person a right over you. You are not somebody`s property or possession. You are much more than that. Take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror. You are the sum total of all your beautiful flaws and amalgamation of all your strengths and failures.

Love doesn`t pronounce itself in the addition of those meaningless syllables to your name.

How long are we to keep pedestalling men and treat them as demi gods? It`s time to pull them down a bit. Walk with them as equals and get rid of this sexist attitude. I will probably be laughed upon if I proposition the same to men because this thought rarely ever crosses a man`s mind. The cultural assumption that our names will ultimately be encompassed and merged within the husband`s identity is perturbing.

Also the realisation that your name is temporary and will not forever be yours plays upon your psychological being and manifests itself in some form of a lack or inferiority. Taking on a different last name after marriage disassociates you from your former being and makes your identity dependent on the other gender - as someone`s wife or mother. Your understanding of self doesn`t have to be relational but should be complete in itself.

A few women who refuse to be part of this sexist mindset are often asked a volley of questions and perhaps aren`t seen as so called `dedicated` wives. So, here the choice is yours - Whether you will be cowed down by monomaniac questions or will you stand up and uphold your `self`?

Whatever be the case, embrace your identity and revel in your completeness. A name change has nothing to do with it. And remember no one owns you. Let no one tell you otherwise.

First Published: Sunday, June 1, 2014 - 21:37

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