Drop it, keep it, hyphenate it, most married women have grappled with this question at some point in time. While a patriarchal society expects women to change their last name and take on their husband’s identity after marriage, there are women out there who choose not to do so including columnist and author, Twinkle Khanna, who recently shot down a troll, who kept pestering her for an answer about not changing her last name after marriage. Not one to take things lying down, Mrs Funnybones (the name she goes by on Twitter) shut him up with one line saying, “A lot of people bring this up, though not as stridently as this gentleman- Khanna it will always be #MarriedNotBranded.” She is not the only one to face these misogynist barbs. And while Mrs Funnybones won us over with her reply, it also got us thinking about people not respecting a woman’s choice. It’s her name after all, and her identity. Why should anyone else have the right to tell her what to do with it? We spoke to women out there about dealing with this very question. And here’s what they had to say.
Nirmika Singh, Deputy Editor, Rolling Stone India
In today’s day and age, the fact that we even have to explore a subject like this where women’s choices are questioned especially with regards to keeping the name they were born with is a telling example of the pathetic society we live in where women are expected to derive an identity from someone they are related too, than their own. If you ask me, my name has been my primary identity. I see no reason to change it. I think it’s time to rethink surnames. I remember a relative and I were once having a general discussion, when she pointed out that if I don’t change my last name, people won’t see my husband and I as a family. In fact, many people are under the misconception that the law requires you to change your last name after marriage. It’s not the law but a culture. And a lot of people expect you to just comply with it. I once had to visit the police station to file an FIR, and the cops kept asking me what my middle name was. When I said I don’t have one, they wanted to know what my husband’s name was so that they could use that as my middle name. I refused to give them my husband’s name and made sure it was not on record as it was not relevant to the case.
Lily Shroff, Freelance writer and Editor
My maiden name is Lily Shroff, and I have not changed it legally as professionally and otherwise everyone knows me by this name. When I got married, like everyone else I did change my name on Facebook, and was contemplating whether I should change it legally. When I brought up the topic with my husband, he had a very mature and witty way of handling it that just made me smile and put things into perspective for me. He said, “I fell in love with Lily Shroff. Lily Kumar does not exist. I don’t know anyone by that name.” It just made so much sense. You don’t become a new person because you are married. And I decided to stick with Shroff and have not changed it legally.
Kimaya Patil, Group Head MinePro Communications
I recollect a friend quizzing me about not changing my last name post tying the knot. She said, “You are Kimaya Patil after marriage! That’s shocking. Hate accha nahi hai kya? Sharam aati hai kya… I said no, I am proud of the fact that Hate (my husband Parihas) appreciates me and respects my choice to stick with my last name, which is my identity. I am the only daughter, I would love to keep my father’s name until I die.” She said, “He is also the only son in the family,” I said so he is keeping his father’s name. She went on to emphasise that I am a girl. At that point, I decided to end the conversation as she would not get my point of view. There have also been times when nosey relatives have prodded me about my choice. I simply ignore them as they are stuck in their ways, and refuse to see another point of view.
Komal Lath, Head of a bespoke communications consultancy
For me marriage is a partnership not ownership, and so I choose to keep my last name. I get interesting and sometimes bizarre reactions for my choice. My doctor’s compounder for instance refers to me as ‘that girl who didn’t change her surname after marriage’, everytime he meets my mom. When nosey relatives try to prod me about the same I keep a straight face and tell them I will change my last name to my husband’s last name the day he changes his last name to mine. And it’s not only nosey relatives, even hotel staff are not immune to it. Once when we were checking in at a hotel in Manali…. the staff assumed we had eloped because we had different surnames. I had to show them my wedding picture to prove we were married.