The first thing every interviewer wanted to know when Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh tied the knot in 2018 was whether Deepika will be changing her surname. Will it be Deepika Singh? Deepika Padukone Singh? Or Deepika Padukone Bhavnani? However, our beloved DP cleared the air and said she has worked very hard to create her identity (just like her husband) and so, she’d like to keep her identity--her maiden name.
On the other hand, stars like Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra changed their name after marriage (hence Kareena Kapoor Khan and Priyanka Chopra Jonas) officially. PeeCee explained in an interview, “No, I always wanted to add his name to mine because I feel like we’re becoming family, and I’m a little traditional and old school like that,” she said. “But I don’t take away my identity. He gets added to who I am.”
Historically, women taking their husband's last name after a marriage has always been a part of the patriarchal tradition. There’s no particular law that says that wives need to take their husband’s name after marriage. However, the tradition's origins can be traced to the age-old practice of property transfer that takes place during a wedding. The ‘property’ here being the woman, who from being a part of her parents’ family, became her husband’s belonging.
But, as times changed, people became more aware of their rights and individuality. Women refused to identify themselves as someone else’s 'property' and men encouraged this change for good. Changing surnames has now become a choice more than a tradition, and we think that’s how it should be. Recently, a photographer named Sagar posted a thoughtful tweet where he explained that his wife retained her maiden name post marriage, and praised her accomplishments and success.
My wife didn’t change her last name post marriage & I never had a problem with that. In fact her identity was restored for what she worked very hard for. She is more successful than me & I am super proud of her. She zoomed past my accomplishments post marriage. Whats your story?— Sagar (@sagarontheright) October 17, 2020
This started a thread on Twitter, prompting many men and women to come forward and share their stories. Several twitter users expressed that the decision to not change their surnames came very naturally to them. In fact, it was hardly something that they discussed with their partners. Some even shared that the tradition of keeping their maiden name has been practiced in their families for generations.
I didn't change my surname either, for us it was as normal as my husband not changing his. There was no question about it. In my practice now I see more & more couples where wife has retained her maiden surname & I love the fact that it's normalising now. It's all about choice.— Dr Sulbha KG Arora (@SulbhaArora) October 18, 2020
In India, we have always heard the common saying--‘ladkiyan paraya dhan hai’. This means that parents, by default, believed that their daughters belonged elsewhere (at her in-laws) and she has to leave them one day or the other. When she does that, she accepts a new family, new life, and also a new identity--while leaving behind her old one. Thus, society has this age-old belief that only a son can carry forward the family legacy, business, and even family name.
Fortunately, that sexist notion is changing. People took to Twitter to share their stories of how their daughters are carrying forward the family name and legacy. It’s high time that happened, don’t you think?
Not only did my daughter not change her surname.. Her kids have both their surnames. Who says daughters don't carry on the family name— R (@digitaltrendz22) October 18, 2020
There are also some people who refuse to use any surname at all, however, the number of such people is marginally low. One of the reasons can simply be to create their own identity from scratch. A Twitter user, Purwa, explains it better in her tweet!
My mother did not change her last name. My parents did not add last any name to both my & my bro’s names & said-apna naam khud banao. It was my bro’s conscious choice to add my father’s surname while registering for his sec. school exams. I am married now & continue to be PURWA.— Purwa :) (@Purwa18) October 18, 2020
Whether a woman should keep or change her surname after marriage is a much-debated topic not only in India but internationally as well. A lot of researchers, like Simon Duncan, believe that changing surname is closely linked to patriarchal tradition and family values.
While the patriarchal belief that husbands own their wives was one of the reasons why women were expected to change their surnames in earlier times, the reasons have changed in the modern age. The family norms and values make society believe that by adopting their husband’s surname, wives truly become and accept their new family. A lot might argue that the same should be applied to husbands as well but in all reality, over the years, changing surnames has just become a harmless tradition for those who practice it.
While there are people who whole-heartedly believe in restoring and retaining original identities, there are also a lot of women who believe that using their husband’s name is a form of love and acceptance. As a matter of fact, for a lot of women, changing their surnames is something they have always wanted to do and is not a big deal at all!
Retained my maiden name and added his surname too. Quit the corporate after eight successful years soon after marriage, only because he had my back. Took degrees & certification & started my ventures. If I have wings today, he’s the wind beneath them.— Neha (@itsstillneha) October 18, 2020
In the end, we would just like to let people know that the decision of changing or keeping a name is an individual’s right. You can simply add your husband’s surname to your existing name or not change it at all.
Changing or not changing your surname is inconsequential. A woman needs to be respected and given independence to live her life as she deems right for her and her family. Same is true for a man.— Namrata Wakhloo (@NamrataWakhloo) October 18, 2020
Always remember that it is the ability to make an individual decision that ultimately matters. And, it should be respected regardless.
Feature Image: Instagram