This article is dedicated to my Husband who is the love of my life and the reluctant yet gracious audience of my rants.

THE NAME CHANGE GAME

WHY I DIDN’T CHANGE MY LAST NAME AFTER I GOT MARRIED & OTHER UNCOMFORTABLE TOPICS.

Dear Everyone,

One never realizes how patriarchal one’s society is till one actually gets married. Then you are expected to give up your identity, name and family and adopt a completely new life style. And if you are lucky enough to find a man who understands your wild feminist ways then you still might be accused off, occasionally hurting the fragile male ego. For when men accept women to be liberated they “allow” them to basically have the same rights that they take completely for granted and it wouldn’t even occur to them to not have. Even keeping your own identity then is a gift from your spouse that you must be grateful he has let you have. And if the heavens have parted and you were gifted that rare mythical creature who loved you just the way you are — angry feminist and all -then you can be rest assured your extended family, the neighbors, people in your community and their pet iguanas will have an issue.

Ms VS MRS

A debate between most. Mrs denotes that you are married and Ms. denotes an ambiguity of relationship status.So does Ms. mean you are trying to hide being married ?For me it simply means that I keep my life out of my name and given that I have retained my name Mrs.Purple makes me feel like I am my father aka Mr. Purple’s wife (ewww). My husband is a Mr. And that doesn’t denote whether he is married or single and I don’t feel that my name needs to either. One might argue that if there was a name for married men — Maxter or Mixter or whatever, he might take it but so far it doesn’t exist. How does one go against the years of programming of the thought that single woman = miss and married woman = mrs ? By simply realizing that societal norms are fluid and you can decide

Keeping My last name

I have kept my last name and when I tell most people this it makes them very uncomfortable. Whilst my husband has made his peace with it I find most other people bristle and ask why ? There are some who say “all that is fine but we are still going to call you Mrs. Gold.” They feel very smug when they say this to me and feel like they have tamed a shrewish radical and smoothened a ruffle in society’s moral tapestry. I normally tell people like that I just won’t respond to them if they address me by the wrong name because a luxury of having some know you is accepting their life’s choices and just like I don’t address them by their maiden name (which follows. my philosophy of thinking) I think they should respect mine. I’ve also been told not to tell their young daughters this because they are at a young age and shouldn’t be made to think they have an option of keeping their last name post marriage. Feminism isn’t a contagious disease but I let them feel they have saved their girls from my blasphemous ideology. Most people just don’t address my last name since they want to avoid an altercation with me but can’t bear the idea of a woman keeping her own name.

I remember my mother asking me why I wanted to keep my name if I was such a feminist. She said that my name too was from my father’s lineage, undoubtedly a patriarchal one. After I got married I thought about whether I wanted to keep my mother’s family name as my own or my father’s but just liked his and made the CHOICE to keep his. Maybe I should have changed it to MS BANANAHAMMOCK — then I would have proved how different I was. But it’s not about being different — it’s about being authentic to oneself.

The HyPhenated last name

Most people who are now “modern” keep their name attached to their. husbands names as a hyphen. It is the safe and acceptable mid path.This makes everyone feel comfortable because the last name is still their husband’s but their maiden name is present.

Some girls have told me they will decide on whether they hyphenate their names based on how esteemed and grand their husbands last names are — Ambani or Bachchan ( Gates or DiCaprio or Spielberg) then they might not even keep their last names. It’s an upgrade. But if the husbands family is inferior to theirs than their maiden name will act as a shield and be inserted between undesirable surname and their own name.

To me though I didn’t feel the need to attach my husbands name to mine. Whilst in an Indian marriage a woman goes into a mans family and is then their ward I choose to think that we both married into each other’s families and formed our own. It’s not a rejection of his family — it’s just deciding that I can be a part of his family and mine in the same way he does. It’s a rejection of the notion that I need to change myself to belong to this institution.

The Children’s Names

Perhaps the touchiest and most taboo of all topics. Even woman who keep. their last names have kids with their husbands last names. My kids will have both our last names and I know this one will be my toughest battle with the people around me.

Women keep their children in their wombs for nine months and bear the most excruciating pain and bring them into the world and nurture them all their lives.

But the name is their husbands. Why ? Because that’s what’s been done all this while.

They belong to the husbands family. Why ? Because that’s what’s been done all this while

These are society’s rules and society’s norms. I like how suddenly everyone trusts society and tradition. when it. suits. them. A. subtle reminder that practices like Sati, dowry and Female Infanticide were the same society’s. bright ideas. And yes I compared patriarchal name assignment with Sati because they both marginalize women.

We have a set idea of what a. family looks like — but to me a family isn’t where MR. And MRS. X live with their kid baby X. Its where the husband and wife ( or domestic partners) live together in true love and trust and freedom and bring up their children with both their values giving them the combined. advantages of both their families. Is your sister married off with another last name not still family ? Don’t you have the same love and sense of duty for her ? If we let go of the notions we have set in our brain and move towards a society that tolerates and embraces individuality — it’s a happier world for most.

Sincerely Yours,

Sanskaari Feminist


DISCLAIMER

This article does not mean to hurt any person’s sentiments. The writer acknowledges that many women very happily choose to take their husbands last names and change their lives after they are married. This article merely speaks for women who have not had that luxury of choice. And this disclaimer recognizes that every woman has the right to choose which side of the fence she chooses to be on. Nor do I intend to hurt men who feel I lumping them all in one ignorant category.When I say all I refer to most of the men I have encountered and I am sure (and hoping) there are men who prove me wrong.

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