Tuesday, June 5, 2012

[T.S.] The Last Name Project

In this new series co-hosted by from two to one and The Feminist Mystique,we will be profiling an array of individuals and couples about their last name decisions upon marriage or what they expect to choose if they marry. The goal is to explore how individuals make decisions about their last name, and to highlight the many possibilities. We will be posting profiles periodically and encourage you to stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  If you would like to participate in this series, email Danielle at danielle [at] fromtwotoone [dot] com or Shannon at hill [dot] shannonp [at] gmail [dot] com.   

The following post is from T. S., who lives in India and blogs over at Lazy Scribbles.

I didn't change my surname after marriage. I have always viewed my name as an intrinsic part of my identity. It didn't seem fair to me that I got my fathers surname. If I could go back in time, I would have preferred to take my mothers surname, or even better, no surname at all. However, the point was that I'd carried around my surname for more than a decade, before I started thinking about it in my teens. By then it was a part of me, it was who I was, who I identified as, in a million places, in my school, my bank, my mails, my whole being as a person, as a citizen. I didn't want to change it or drop it, even to match my own feminist world view. So, the whole idea of changing it upon marriage, had always seemed incomprehensible to me. I was brought up in a fairly nonconformist household, and the importance of following tradition, for the its own sake, was always very low in the general scheme of things at home. A lot of things which are explained only on the basis of tradition, or justifications of ancient social systems, likewise seemed quite incomprehensible to me. I felt that a lot of these questions I was grappling with, perhaps made sense in a patriarchal agrarian society. The idea of being 'given away' in marriage, becoming part of a different, pre-existing family unit/dynasty , changing the surname to fit with it, and further it. In my world as a city dweller in nuclear family units, with frequently changing jobs in the service industry, it didn't make any sense at all. While we were dating, my partner thought I'd perhaps get over my 'extremist' stand eventually. He didn't really share my feminist views. When I didn't get over them even after many years, he didn't seem to happy about it, but came around to living with it. Subsequently, not too many people bothered to worry me about why I hadn't changed my surname. Maybe they knew by then from my various choices, how little I really bothered with customs, and how much I identified as a feminist. Maybe most people are really a lot less bothered about us than we think. Some people do ask questions about how such decisions would work for the next generation. In theory, I'd prefer that they take the primary caregiver's surname. In practice, to each their own!

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