Why So Many Women Still Take Their Spouse’s Last Name?
While Deepika is still using a Padukone and Anushka and Vidya are Sharma and Balan respectively, Sonam did add Ahuja as her last name post marriage. Now, by adding Jonas to her name on social media Priyanka Chopra too joins the celebrity wives who take their spouse’s last name. Our new age leading ladies basically represent the melange of surname options, some retain their maiden surname, while others trade it for that of their husband. Then there are some, who merrily walk the earth with two surnames.
- Priyanka Chopra recently added Jonas as her last name on all her social media handles.
- The decision to add or adopt your husband’s last name often brings criticism to the doorsteps of feminists. Strangely more from other women than anyone else.
- The most important thing, however, is to have the liberty to make this choice.
However, the decision to adopt your husband’s last name often brings criticism to the doorsteps, strangely more from other women. According to some, adopting the husband’s surname is akin to bowing down at patriarchy’s feet. Women cannot achieve equality unless they break free from outdated traditions such as taking on the husband’s last name. This logic, however, would have held ground if our surnames would have been the one we inherit from our mothers, or maternal grandmothers or to put it plainly, our female ancestors.
Alas, our surnames trace us to that very patriarchal system we want to be rid of.
So for us, the choice basically is between keeping our father’s family name, taking our husband’s father’s family name or both. Unless we go full-blown rebel and adopt a different last name and then vow to pass it down to our female descendants. So if one isn’t too attached to their maiden name, why not adopt that of the husband and mark a new beginning? I think women who choose to trade-off their maiden last names with that of their husband’s will agree.
However, there are many women who want to keep their father’s last name because it means a lot to them to be their father’s daughter. For them, their maiden surname is not just a surname it is an embodiment of the deep and loving bond they share with their parents. They feel that marrying into another family shouldn’t dilute it. As Twinkle Khanna famously said in 2016, being married doesn’t mean being branded. Our identities shouldn’t be subjective to change with a change in the marital status.
Besides, why must shifting homes, and adjusting into another family come with the added struggle of adopting a new identity?
Also in this mix are those women for whom it is as important to adopt the matrimonial surname, as it is to retain the maiden one. In a society where challenging dictates is a constant source of grave repercussions, many women opt to respect traditions, all the while passively challenging it by declining to let go of their maiden name.
But the what or why or how of their choice is secondary. Most important thing is to have the liberty to make that choice. For a lot of married women still living in orthodox sections of our society, the choice is made for them. They do not get to have a say in it. Thus, rather than advocating whether or not women should adopt or add their husband’s last name, we should advocate the right of every woman to have the liberty to make that choice. Our name is a major part of our personal and social identity. It should say what we want it to say, not what dictates command it to be.
PC: Hindustan Times
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.