Unique Thinkers United

Giving up her identity

23/09/2011 14:14

Brides all over the world take their husband’s name after marriage. It has been a custom for ages and even till date many don’t question it. Although post the feminist explosion of the 1970s many women decided to add their husband’s surname to their name instead of removing their maiden surname, legal documents show that even today most women continue to change names after getting married. A smaller percentage defer to hyphenation.

Historically, there are three reasons governing this custom - Protection of family and wealth, designation of a new life direction and acknowledgement of God’s presence in and endorsement of the marriage.   

But why is this practice continued even today, in an era when most countries claim they respect their female citizenry and also claim to be party to women upliftment? Is it not enough that women have to leave their lives (which is another objectionable practice) to start a new life with many strangers. Live with them, adopt their habits and lifestyle. Why should she also change her identity – something that many women have worked after all through their life? Before marriage she is known by her name, but post that she finds the title of Mrs. added to her name.

People take it for granted that after marriage a woman’s identity is associated with that of her husband. People who follow this practice advocate that this practice helps bring uniformity in a marriage. If the husband and the wife have the same name then it becomes easier. Be it the continuance of family name, in the patriarchal society or the superiority of the husband over the wife, there are many reasons behind the practice. But not one that has ever asked the woman about her opinion. Barring few matriarchal societies in small clusters and tribes of the world, women have had to change their identity. 

Although, modern day does see many women taking the decision of not changing their name, it gets limited to official purpose only. In practice, people in the society address her by her husband’s surname only. It doesn’t occur to us to ask the woman concerned if she has changed her name or not. It is taken for granted.

This is the 21st century – a time when our lifestyle has changed drastically from the early centuries when such practices were prevalent. Women then lived in different circumstances and had to depend on men. Today women have an opinion and many claim that they respect it. If you let her study, develop a thinking process and understand what is right and wrong, it becomes imperative that you take her decision on such matters as well. After all it’s her identity! 

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