Ever since childhood and right until death, the father’s name is an essential part of the identity of every man or woman. We carry the name of our father with pride because along with his surname he gives us a lineage. And every one of us knows about the obsession the L word has in our society. For most women, this inheritance only lasts till they get married. Then, of course, our identity gets underlined by another man’s name and surname.
While most married women prefer to retain their respective maiden identities today, there is no escaping the fact that every child in this world always bears his or her father’s name. It is way more important than a mother’s name in our society because it is not the womb that nurtured, but the legitimacy that only a father can give which matters more.
But what if a child doesn’t want to have anything to do with his or her father’s name? Are we ready to socially accept such a person?
An 18-year-old girl in Pakistan has filed a petition in the Supreme Court to remove her father’s name from all her official documents including her birth certificate. The girl claims she has never even seen her father, hence she cannot see how he can be her father. There are numerous such children who are raised by single mothers. The only presence of fathers in their lives is through their legal documents, in the form of fading ink over some papers.
- An 18-year-old girl from Pakistan has filed a petition in the Supreme Court to remove her father’s name from all her legal documents including her birth certificate and degree.
- In a society obsessed with tracing identities through the lineage of fathers, it is very hard for people to understand why a child would do so.
- But when a father does no more than to occupy a column on every form, then the child can feel he is an unnecessary part of her identity.
Such people do not feel any attachment towards the missing parent, but there is no escaping patriarchy. Even when the one who brought you into this system disappears from your life, the mother who single-handedly raised you remains the secondary parent. Her name is a formality or an option in the legal documents. But the father’s name must always be mentioned.
Father’s name is a matter of pride here
It is something one can boast about in brawls. Or use to extract privilege or implement influence. In fact, in many regions in our country, a child bears his or her father’s name automatically as a middle name. Those who do not want to embrace this tradition are ridiculed. “Are you ashamed of your father?” people ask unabashedly. While most of us dismiss such conservative jibes with an eye roll, imagine if your answer to this question is a yes!
There are numerous people who do not want to have anything to do with their fathers or their lineage.
Perhaps the pain of having an absentee parent during childhood is too severe. Or maybe they do not identify with that part of their identity. “That is not me. That is the name I ever want to be associated with,” is what they feel. Then why must our patriarchal dictates cause people to bear an identity, they don’t want to?
No one should have to drag along a dead relationship all through their life just because the society won’t have it the other way. There is more to being a father than giving your name to a child. And if some people feel that the name which they write under the said column in every application form is not worthy of being there, then we shouldn’t force them to do otherwise.
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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.