Monday, 19 January 2009

What's in a name?

Sanjay Dutt's , by now infamous, interview, got me started on this post. He had a message 'to all girls who hang on to their parents’ surname'. I find it, very difficult to understand how people can give such statements - even more so when they are planning to stand for public office. Or may be it is all to show how deeply he and his 'homemaker' wife is steeped in 'Bharatiya Sanskriti'!

Anyways, this reminded me of one of my close friend's 6 year old daughter who came home from school one day and told her, 'Mamma, you are not part of my family!'. On further questioning, it came out, that she was taught, in school, that everybody in a family, shares a common surname! And since her mother had a different surname - she must not be part of the family :) I was a little surprised at that point in time, that in a London school, this was told to the kids and that no parent objected!


Either way, I feel this expectation of a woman having to change her surname to her husband's very unfair. Isn't is sad that a woman has to change her identity and assume a different one once she gets married? Then again, if the woman is working, there are so many documents involved, passports, email ids - why go through all that hassle? But again, there are communities, where even a girl's first name is changed after marriage! So a surname is probably still a better option.

Again, it is a global phenomenon, isn't it? Wasn't Hillary Clinton and Cherie Blair given grief , because they held on to their maiden names?

I really do not know what to make of this whole issue - apart from one thing - I find it very objectionable when people condemn women for not changing their surnames or commend them for doing so. To me, it is a personal choice, and it should be a woman's decision whether or not to take up her husband's name. Beyond that - it's nobody's business!

36 comments:

Solilo.. said...

I think there is some kind of weirdness going on with me and couple of bloggers. The other day I wrote a draft on Mr.Bachchan's SD comment and just then I saw Nimmy posting the same. Now here, I was writing another draft with the same title on similar name issue and then I see this :). Also reading Indyeah's blog was like going back to my childhood. Connections!:)

As for what's in a name? Will come back in detail here instead of my own post.

Ajit said...

personal choice is the key....
i agree...
I also get tired when people use the term 'Bharatiya Sanskriti'...
cultures always change....
and change is the only constant thing in the world.....

roop said...

amen!

Quirky Indian said...

It really is nobody's business. The day we start respecting personal choices, the world will be a better place.

Cheers,

Quirky Indian

Mavin said...

At one time this was accepted as the norm. There were no murmurs of dissent.

Even now this is largely accepted as a way of life.

It is only now that some have stuck on to their maiden names and life still goes on smoothly.

How does it matter? It is a matter
of choice as you say. It does not matter what Sanjay Dutt has to say about his sister. All that matters is whether Priya Dutt and her husband have no problem with this.

The media will highlight this as the family squabble is of much interest to all the yellow journalists out there. Washing family linen in public is the most readable.

Bones said...

I agree with you...
http://quackrites.blogspot.com/ has a similar post on her blog...

I haven't changed my surname and my daughter has my surname as a middle name and my husband's as her surname...I'm thankful my husband didn't object - he said,"I don't care...It's your decision...Don't bother me with such issues again..."

Pradeep said...

It's difficult to generalise. My wife didn't change her surname. Nor I suggested that she should. I think these are, at the end of the day, personal. Of course, looking at the number of people doing it one way or the other, one can detect a certain trend in this. I guess it's difficult to insist a wife should change or should not change.

Happy Kitten said...

I think no girl is happy changing her name just because she got married.

But I am glad things are changing and sometimes I do wish I was born a little later!

hitch writer said...

I kinda like the idea of the girl keeping her own surname... I wanted my wife to keep hers. But then she was very keen to take mine !!

I guess we leave it to individual preference !

Indian Home Maker said...

@Solilo You are right, I noticed this too, yesterday Mampi and I posted about god, and earlier suddenly many of us had written about problems faced by women in our society.

@Smitha And who is this Gentleman talking about how women should behave? A man who deserted his own wife when she had cancer, she had taken his name and he repaid her very well! The kind of zero value morality this gun owning, friend of the underworld has, he has no business to talk about women. Here he is talking about his sisters not changing their names because he would have preferred to get his father's name and votes without doing anything to deserve it. Is there any doubt that Priya Dutt who has always been involved with her dad's work deserves it more than him... such brothers are called KANS. Will write a post about it.
It's always such people who talk of what women should do nad how they bshould live- maybe that is why he never had a lasting relationship till now. What woman would tolerate such nonsense!

Sahaja said...

True, it should be personal choice and it should be no one else's botheration!

Till my dad passed away, My mom had her maiden name but then she changed it....My dad never objected or even raised the issue once in his lifetime...and my grandparents didnt object either!

varunavi said...

It is unfair for sanjay dutt to talk abt his sister, it is his sisters who where with him when he was going through all the shit he created for himself.
I got my passport done after i got married, my hubby never told me to take his family name, where as my b-law immediately after marriage he changed everything my of sisters name into his family name, later they had problems in getting her passport done.
In arab countries women dont change there family names after marriage

manju said...

Just a thought- today when women do not change their name after marriage, it is their father's ( a males's) surname that they retain.:)

Some community's in India do have a matriarchal system. Property and name are passed down from mother to daughter.

Whats in a Name said...

Hey First timer here... Came here from Gopinath's Blog.

And the first thing I see is a blog post by the name of my Blogger Profile "What's in a name" :-P

Junior Dutt thinks he can go along his father's path going into politics.. But even his father's surname cannot save his face :-)
His comment on Priya Dutt goes to show how incapable these people are in handling there own families. God save the country if it falls in such hands...

Why do people with so low IQ's like Junior Dutt fall into such traps set by Amar Singh at the first plce..
:-(

Solilo said...

Sanjay Dutt is as usual brainwashed by his coterie. This is the guy who was drugged and unconscious when his mother died. Never cared about his wife on death bed or for his daughter. Cheated on his second wife and I don’t think he can ever repay what his two sisters have gone through to support him.

First lessons of politics is to make controversial statements to gain attention. Looks like Sanjay Dutt won the first round.

@IHM: Strong telepathy about all of us posting about women and many other issues.

Vinod_Sharma said...

I think Mavin's view is fairly balanced, non-judgmental, non-aggressive and non-dismissive!
Taking on the husband's surname has been a societal norm for a long time. Nothing sacrosanct about it, sure, and many women are retaining their maiden names now. Why can we not live merrily, respecting both views?

As you have rightly said Smitha, it has to be a personal choice, ideally a joint choice between husband and wife. Beyond that it really is nobody's business.

Smitha said...

@Solilo, Yes, there sure is some kind of blogging telepathy going on. I noticed that Goofy Mumma had posted a similar post last night - unfortunately - noticed it only after I had already posted mine :( Maybe, you should write about these connections!!

As for Sanjay Dutt, the less said the better! Just thinking of him makes me angry! I really think that this statement has come for increased support in his campaign - so that he can appeal to the hardcore conservatives in Lucknow - 'Look I am an upholder of Indian Traditions!'

@Ajit - Totally agree - Tradtions, culture are all relative aren't they? If we go back to centuries - I am sure we will find that women didnot take anybody's name - not sure- have to research this though. Change is the only constant thing - wonder why we are so resistant to change!!!

@Roop - Welcome to my blog. I think you are doing a fantastic job with Unchaahi - I'm a fan!

@Quirly Indian - Well said - 'The day we start respecting personal choices, the world will be a better place.'

Smitha said...

@Mavin, Yes, at one time, this was accepted - and I think that was because the women did not have an identity outside and she really did not have much of a choice. Now, by the time she gets married - she has a full-fledged life - its a little unfair to expect it to change!
As for Sanjay Dutt's statement - I really think it has to do with getting milage before the elections. Though how any sensible person would want to vote for him is a mystery!

@Bones - Yes I saw Goofy Mumma's post after I had already posted mine :(
I think its admirable what you have done with your daughter's name. I did think about doing the same but my maiden name is quite complicated - did not want to burden her with it. Though sometimes I think maybe I should have :) I too kept my maiden name - its just so much easier isn't it?
And your husband's reaction is soo sweet :)


@Pradeep, Yes, it is definitely difficult to generalise. I just get mad when people like Sanjay Dutt decide that they can act as moral guardians and tell the rest of us what to do!

@Happy Kitten - Yes, I would agree with you that most girls may not be happy changing their names. Yes, things are changing! By the way, my mother has retained her maiden name too :)


@IHM - I totally agree. Welcome back - Haven't seen you at my blog for sometime:) Yes, it makes me so mad to see scum like Sanjay Dutt acting like our moral guardians! First it was Shiv Sena telling us not to celebrate Valentine's Day - now Sanjay Dutt wants to go one step further! And as you rightly said - he abandoned his wife - when she needed him most, this is his third marriage - how on earth is he qualified to tell us what to do??? I really think that this is some kind of election gimmick - to attract the ultra-conservative votebank. There should no question whatsoever ,about why or why not Priya Dutt chooses to keep her father's name!!! It is so sad that he forgot that his sisters had stood by him during his troubles and now he chooses to lash out at them in public! Wow what an example!!!!

Indyeah said...

Totally personal choices these are...
and to each his/her own...
And who would want to listen to Mr Dutt?
Not the most reliable character in my book anyway...and pretty pathetic if he's giving such idiotic statements...madame Manyata must be in agreement......and so again to each his/her own..

Indyeah said...
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Indyeah said...
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Smitha said...

@Sahaja - That is so touching! As you said - personal choice! I think when we allhave that right - life will become much easier!

@Varunavi, Yes, its a shame isn't it? Men, are also conditined to think, that a woman needs to change her name when she gets married - guess thats what happened to your sister. Yes, I have heard that about Arab countries too.

@Manju, You are right, women still have their father's name :) Guess it will take time to change that. By the way, my maiden name is my mother's ancestral home name - I belong to a matriachal society. However, amongst my cousins, in my generation - only 2 of us have our ancestral name :( Guess its too cumbersome :( And I had a collgeaue who had his mother's name - not family name, his mother's first name as his middle name - I found that very admirable!

Smitha said...

@What's in a name :) Welcome! Guess it is not just low IQ - but also a means of more money making by entering Politics, that made him fall into 'Amar Singh's' Trap. It is sad to see that people like Sanjay Dutt, will very soon be our elected representative!

@Vinod, Yes, live and let live! If only our politcal aspirants did not come up with such nuggets of moral advice :)

@Indyeah - Yes - Personal choice! The sad thing is, that I am sure that these statements will appeal to some conservatives in his constituency..That I am sure, is the reason behind these statements! And you know what - I am sure he will get elected too :(

Smitha said...

@Hitchwriter - So sorry I missed your comment! Yes, it is definitely individual choice and we should respect it whatever be the case. A lot of my cousins have changed their names after getting married - totally out of choice. We just don't need public moral guardians help protect our culture!

Nimmy said...

Hey Smitha,I was half way writing a post on this..you ahve written it well balanced,now mine won't make any sense..You ahve said it well and fair..

Its all personal choice.But the way how My Dutt says it tells us hoe sexist a person he is..As you rightly said,i wonder why is he dumb enough to make such statements while entering politics...Stupid man :)

Smitha said...

@Nimmy - There certainly seems to be some kind of blog telepathy going around :) Solilo says the same thing :)Guess we are all affected by the same sort of things.
I think Dutt, has said these things for pubilcity! Anybody with convictions or even cases against them should not be allowed to contest elections - until they are cleared! Its a shame that we have such 'leaders'!!

Chirag said...

I echo with QI: It really is nobody's business. if a day comes where we start respecting personal choices, the world will better.

mirrorcracked said...

Sanjay Dutt was probably drunk and delirious on being given a 3-crore Volvo bus for his political campaign, and also because he's a nutcase by birth! :)
First time here, and I like it! :)

hitch writer said...

Shall i add more to this ??? tongue in cheek

some marathi families change the first name of the woman tooo !!!!

I kinda hate it but !!! it happens and has happened to a few girls i know !!!

Aparna said...

To think a criminal charged multiple times including association with terrorism is running for office and putting out inane comments!!
Yeah...can relate to the last name thingie. I did not change my name. And A's dad being tamil; his first name becomes the last name of the kid. So, all 3 of us had different last names. My nurse was amused and asked me how that was possible! My hubby wanted to keep my last name as my kid's last name (since I have proper one being telugu!! :) lol) I guess we come across as a joke! or at least intriguing!

Smitha said...

@Chirag, Totally agree- World will indeed be a better place if everybody minds their own business!

@Mirrorcracked - Welcome! I loved your comment - am sure that must be right :) Nobody in his right senses would go about spouting such nonsense:) Do keep visiting :)

@Hitchwriter - I have heard of that custom where the girl's first name is changed too. I can't imagine how people can do it - I would find it difficult to even respond to be called by some other name...

@Aparna, Yes, it is amazing isn't it that we have criminals and people with cases pending against them. Really, we should really have a law that on any body with a case in his name, be banned from contesting elections. That was wuite funny - about all three of you having different surnames :) Welcome and do visit again.

Pixie said...

Everyone seems to writing on this and showing their displeasure! I wrote about it too, if not so clearly! :-)
you know, I had blogged about this previously, but even in my family there is a norm to change the girl's first name also! My cousin has changed his wife's first name too!!!

aliceinneverland said...

I would never ever change my surname even after i get married... i am not being a sexist here but its all about respecting a person's individuality and i am a strong believer in that...

i loved this post...

keep writing cuz i will be hopping here more often... :D

oorjas said...

hi.. first time here and maybe a bit late as all has been said already..

will it change me if i change my surname? i'll still be the same person. (maybe some numerologist would like that which would be luckier for me.. ;-))

good we being tamils we can choose either to have our father's or husband's name or initial with our name. i still keep my father's initial as in my passport. its easier to deal with legally. and even if i choose to have a surname both the families have the same one..

vimmuuu said...

Its a personal choice, I agree. My s-i-l wanted to retain her surname, but then like how u mentioned, she had to change it for the documents, passport, etc.

again,whats in a name???

Smitha said...

@Pixie - Welcome! It is sad isn't it that the first name gets changed too - I can't understand the logic, really. Will check out your post in a minute. Do keep visiting.

@Aliceinneverland - Welcome - I love your name :) Same here- its not about being a sexist - but a respecting individuality! Thanks for your kind words - do keep visiting:)

@Oorjas - Welcome! Yes, I think the key is that people have the liberty to chose - and not have practices thrust upon them. Do keep visiting.

@Vimmuuu -Yes, Its all about a personal choice. It just makes me mad when somebody like Sanjay Dutt can presume to send a message to 'to all girls who hang on to their parents’ surname'.