Women & The Surname Tamasha

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Recently there was a Supreme Court decision that a Divorced woman can retain & use her ex-husband’s surname. Many newspaper headlines screamed that it is a reason to cheer for women. In  my not so humble opinion,  to the contrary, it is dismal, distressing & a retrograde step.

Why would a married woman want to retain her ex’s surname? Why do married woman want to take on their husband’s family name in the first place? This choice has been beyond my comprehension. Marriage is a union of equals. So why is there a need to take on a part of his identity??

 {Adopting a husband’s last name remains an entrenched tradition that is on the upswing, despite a temporary blip in the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s where many young women tended to want to hold on to their birth names,” said UF linguistics professor Diana Boxer, who led a series of studies. “I think it reflects how men’s power continues to influence American society despite the fact that women have made great advances economically and socially.” (source: http://www.physorg.com/news8243.html)

 “Taking on my husband’s last name was an outward sign of our union,” explained one woman. “It served to make me feel that I was ‘really married’ and that we were forming a brand new family.” (why does only a woman need to have an outward sign of union?? How about husband flaunting some outward signs??)

Understanding naming traditions is important because they give clues about underlying social patterns and shifts in attitudes about expected roles for women, said Boxer, who presented some of the findings at the International Association of Applied Linguistics meeting in Madison, Wis., in July. “People say ‘It’s only a name, what’s in a name?’ Well, we think there’s a lot in a name,” she said. “Linguistic symbols tell us how people are treated in society.” }

 Then a newspaper article claimed that more & more working women are choosing to retain their maiden surnames. Now what is the co-relation between work & surname? I am not working outside home but that never stopped me from not changing my surname.

 One newspaper article told about a lady who got married, changed her surname, got divorced, changed back to her original surname, then got remarried & alas, changed her surname yet again!! Why all this tamasha?? Why not let your name stay put firmly??

 Then there are women who are choosing to retain their maiden surnames & topping it up with their husband’s surname. High profile women like Priyanka Gandhi Vadhera & Aishwarya Rai Bacchan belong to this category. Again why? Why the need to tag your hubby’s last name when he doesn’t feel the corresponding need to tag yours?? Besides sounding ridiculous two surnames in one name is extra baggage!!

The most distressing case is of the women (a couple of whom I know) who not only change their surnames but even their Names after marriage. In fact there is a tradition in certain families in India where a woman’s name is changed by her husband’s family…I mean why? It is a not so subtle indication that a female is expected to change her identity in every way including something as basic as name!! & yet another deplorable category is that of women who sandwich their husband’s name between her name & her (husband’s) surname!

These days we like to believe that we have achieved Gender Equality. But these can’t be true until we stop & think before succumbing to such subtle forms of male dominance. Women it’s time to wake up & make the choices wisely.Aren’t we also responsible for making our positions little less than equal by succumbing to these unwise choices? 

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October 6, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Feminism, Gender equality, I-Me-Myself, Marriage, MEMEME, My lifestyle, My Values, Reflections/Musings, Wisdom.

2 Comments

  1. Vikram Karve replied:

    Hi Ritu,
    A very insightful post on a topic that needs discussion and debate.
    Here is my take on the subject:
    http://karvediat.blogspot.com/2011/10/my-favourite-short-stories-part-53-just.html
    All the Best
    Keep Blogging. Your posts are great.
    Regards
    Vikram

  2. Kadwa Chauth: Heights of Stupidity « Ritu’s Weblog replied:

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