Long back as an upright teenager, I had made a decision to never change my name after I got married. I simply liked it too much.
When A and I were getting married, we never discussed about it because we both knew how important my name was to me! I was known to the world by my name! It was my identity. It simply didn’t make sense to change my identity just because I was getting married.
However the first of the numerous questions that came my way because of this, was from the marriage registrar who looked positively scandalous as I signed my name, the original first and last, instead of A’s, in neat letters. He thought I wrote it mistakenly out of habit, and when I asserted it certainly was not, tried to talk me out of it, offered a new form and when I still didn’t buzz, looked pissed.
Since then, I have lost count of how many raised eyebrows and wounded egos my not changing my last name has caused.
Even though actually it was just because I liked my name very much and being super lazy tried to avoid all the extra work of visiting the passport office, bank, post office, changing the official transcripts and emails and I don’t even know what else, time again it was imposed upon me that it was the deed of a terribly stupid and headstrong feminist who has no real notion of what feminism is and tries to defy every social norm.
Soon, the questions started becoming too personal and annoying. Those initial hours of laziness from not having to run around to change my name were replaced by anxiety of meeting new people in the next get-together. And the questions always followed in the lines of –
Each family is identified by a common name. It’s like you are deliberately trying to set yourself apart from the family!
If we need a common name to identify our family why not combine both names? It’s my family too now, isn’t it? Why must I lose my identity and can’t unite everyone under a new family identity? A and I are starting a new family after all.
Ah! You reek of feminism!
I didn’t know feminism stank! But now that you bring it up, let’s face it. Men do not have these obligations! Why must a woman?
You can use both names you know? Many do that!
It’s still a change in my name! Maybe our children will use both names.
Is your husband okay with it?
Why wouldn’t he be? We are two individuals choosing to be married to each other because we love each other. What’s that got to do with what names we use? I really don’t find a good enough reason to buy into such a retrograde practice.
With time, I have come to realize that it indeed was a defying thing to do. Defying male ego – the fragile inflated thing that breaks and bursts at the slightest nudge. And God save those men who don’t seem to have one. Letting one’s wife use their own name – it’s like a blow to their masculinity.
The man in my home doesn’t care, and feels it is too trivial a thing to discuss but the men at my office (it is the place where I meet the majority of my male acquaintance) feel so differently that it was a shock. Some even felt that it was the greatest insult their wives could throw at them. Really?
For a time I used to worry about – after making so much progress socially, economically and politically why must a woman still be subjected to such a sexist and outdated custom to make decisions when she gets married?
But then, these days, I don’t care. It’s about our lives, as husband and wife together and everything should be about how we build it. Rest of the world will get over it sooner or later!
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