The everlasting issue of the last name

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Our names define us, don’t they? Or do they? Since birth, our names are tagged along by the surname of our fathers. This practice is prevalent all over. No matter to what extent we try to do away with the negative aspects patriarchy it is still present in different depths in all our lives. So, the question is what makes our fathers’ surname more preferred than our mothers’? Why is it that the succeeding generation can identify themselves with only their fathers’ profile? We may not notice this closely, as it does not directly and apparently threaten us. But what I’m asking you as a woman is only too consider if this practice is just another mild way of controlling women.


But that is not where it comes to an end. To top it off, marriages alter our maiden name to that of our husbands’. So now we would be basically identified by our husbands. The whole concept is extremely juvenile and hypocritical and has done nothing substantial other than bringing inconvenience to our lives. Now, according to me, I will only feel the deserved freedom when I am free from the vineal problems that arise from a simple element like our names. You are your own person and you do have the right to create for yourself your very own unique identity. But in a society like ours, it becomes nearly impossible for a lot of us to take a stand when we remain busy juggling our names and identity.


Our commitment comes from the heart- not by assigning ourselves the surname of someone else’s. What is surprising is that even today- the modern world as we call it- 90% of women would take their husbands’ last name, be it willingly or forcefully. Others speak about how convenient it is to just belong to the same name, their families defined by that common element. Well then, why not examine the idea of a matrilineal family for once? Surely, if the above point is the determinant, then what harm it is to the man to take the role of his wife for once?

Recently, there is another trend in view. This is where the woman adds her husband’s surname behind her own, with a ‘hyphen’. But this does not really change the earlier rules, right? It is like a desperate compromise where you are at peace with your last name remaining intact with the addition of your husband’s.


Let’s talk practical now. Changing your surname means changing all the legal paperwork you own since birth. Now that is a heavy job. This kind of hassle takes a long long time to settle. Might as well stick to your original one to avoid complications.

This practice was born millions of years ago having its root origin at some point of time in all religions. Definitely, it can be considered as just another way of assigning the role of a woman as submissive and docile, one who is directly under the control of man. Mind you, changing your last name at that time was just agreeing to the fact that your husband ‘owns’ you- legally.

Now let us go back to being rational for a moment here. Nowadays, women are of a lot of value and their work contributes a lot to the society. Our independent outlook and the feeling of accomplishment make us run in par with men. So, naturally before marriage, you might have a lot of research paperwork or accomplishments on display on the net. Unfortunately, omitting your past surname means letting go of all the displayed successes you have had as a single woman. Since your previous official documents are registered under your paternal last name, it’s not going to recognize the chance and come up on the search feed.

On the other hand, many women- who were supposedly feminists at one time- when asked why they altered their surname often offer the vague excuse of her new surname to ‘sound much better’ than her original one. Even considering this point seriously is an impossible task and it explains one’s desperate position to justify oneself.


The thing that bothers me the most, as a woman, is that I see other women supporting this injustice, and then they go onto justifying themselves. Some even think of it as a compromise or a must from our side considering the huge amount of things our breadwinners do for us. The fact today is that men are not the only breadwinners; women take an active role in family life. So there should remain no reasons as to why the husband should always fulfill the role of the head of the family. But if women turn a blind eye and refuse to respond to this situation, then how does one expect men to actually fight for us, understand and sensitize to our situation?


The immediate solution that drops in our minds would be to command the husbands to change their last name to ours’.  But let us not forget that we are trying to promote feminism here, in our society- which includes the equality of all sexes. Although it makes more sense since they did not have to go through the sufferings of women, primary idea remains that of feminism. Changing the views of the society cannot be brought about by imposing restrictions but giving them the liberty of choosing for themselves.

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