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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

We, the women have our own names!

“The utmost of a woman’s character is expressed in the duties of a daughter, sister and eventually wife and mother. It is secured by soft attraction and virtuous love. If a woman has to have a particular superiority for example a profound mind, it is best kept a profound secret. Humor is liked more but wit? No. It is the most treacherous talent of them all.”
An excerpt from Becoming Jane (A biographical movie based on the life of famous author Jane Austen)

In the era when humans were surviving on hunting and foraging, women enjoyed equality where they used to go to foraging while men hunted. With the development of farming, when women could not participate in plowing, they started staying back at homes. Since women were not physically strong, they took up the charge of raising children and managing household chores and men became providers. The work was divided into two equals. However, from that era their conditions started deteriorating. 

With the change in time, culture and traditions were introduced in our lives and different civilizations were formed. Here women, who were managing home, naive to the outside world, were bound into traditional dos and don’ts. One thing was common in every civilization, they were taught to be compassionate, quite, giving and enduring. They were discouraged to talk their heart out before others while men were left free and independent of such things. Women’s beauty became more of a duty than of a natural gift to them. While men started making marks in the world, women were like water- adjusting to the environment around, having no identity of their own.


The rules of marital alliance were simple. A woman should be good enough with all other qualities that a husband and his family can accept. She should abide by all rules of marital life and should always serve her new family, even if it means to be at her own cost. She should have endurance to stand behind her spouse in all thick and thins. She should practice patience to receive the love of her husband, no matter how much time it takes. Before her marriage she was known by her family and post marriage by her husband’s family and then her children. She dutifully followed her parents, her husband, her in-laws and her children. And meanwhile she lost her own self, amidst all. A time came in India, where after marriage she was given an entirely new name along with a new family name, to tell her that now she had a new identity, that she no more belongs to the parents and family she was born and raised in. 
And what after that? Sometimes she was abandoned by her husband, sometimes she was beaten by her in-laws, sometimes even worse happened. On the other side, her family, in the fear of stigma, pushed her back to her new home. She was repeatedly told; she could only leave her husband’s home over her pyre. 


Then time changed, she became educated and independent. Men started liking the ones who had their own say. Sharper, well-read, wittier women took over the shy ones. The measurements of beauty were no more their fair complexion or small waists, but their independence and confidence became priority. Although some males were still orthodox or traditional, but majority preferred to be in the company of exciting, knowledgeable women who stood as equals. Slowly women took the charge of their own lives and picked up the lovers/husband of their choice. The talks shifted from 'who will accept her' to 'who she will pick' as her prospective partner. 

Meanwhile old traditions continued to ferment in the families. “This is your new home! Now that you have left your old home and parents, you should forget them and start a new life here with your new parents.” After being independent having an identity of her own, she was still fighting for where she belonged to. Now she was allowed to keep her name but she should be known by the surname of her spouse. Patriarchy still dominated, feminism was still struggling in the clutches of old traditions. Now, her in-laws loved her even more than those in the past. Elder women were more accepting of their new independent daughter in laws. But somewhere, some scraps of orthodox values and thoughts stayed glued to them. She dutifully accepted her new parents, new home, and a husband as her lifeline. But now she retaliated harder, when her husband got involved in infidelity. Even now her parents asked her to woo him and take him out from the clutches of another woman and her in-laws blamed her as a reason that their son had to go outside marriage. She still struggled with dilemma of how to handle these things. Soon world around her advanced a little more and she was told that her own life should be her priority and till the time she is not tranquil with her present state, she couldn’t take care of others. The atoms of compassion, endurance, love were still in her with those motherly instincts that were provided to her by nature. 
But now she wanted to retain her own identity, the way she was born. She knew that only her parents will accept all the follies in her and still love her. She knew that even if she was tied with a man of her dreams, she still was the same human, with same genetic structure and upbringing with which she was born and raised. The fact that she was her parent's child was immutable, so she decided not to give up her family name. Traditions still tried to interfere in her decisions, and tried to find a midway of keeping her old surname and new one in that order behind her name. But she didn’t want to make a train out of her name. She had a social circle and old forgotten friends, who could still find her on social media with the name she had lived with all those years of learning and growing up. She didn’t want to change her documents from her old name to new name after marriage; then her new name to old one, if ever they part (due to any circumstances); then again old to new after remarrying. She knew that she and her partner were assembled in one relationship but she still was who she was. Her old home and parents still hold as much priority for her as they did before her alliance, and that didn’t mean she would ignore her new home. She decided to retain everything she was born with, no matter where she went.

P.S. I told my husband that I would not change my surname after marriage, that made him curious. He had never thought about those age long traditional subjects before and hence he asked me for reasons behind the same. I gave him my reasons, and told him if all of a sudden he changes his surname, how would he feel, he understood what I meant. He felt proud that I wanted to retain my own identity in the world. A lot of my cousins also appreciated the fact and decided that they too would not force surname change on their spouses. Even if a woman leaves her home for you, she still belongs to the place she was born in. Her parents and siblings still are a priority and most prized possessions for her in the world like yours are for you. A marriage is merging of two families together and no one takes a backseat in the process. Respect that! 

12 comments:

  1. You always impress me with your thoughts and the art of presenting them in a meaningful way. Good Job Ms. Chaturvedi :)

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  2. Long post but a good one, so many thoughts - yes agree with you to a large extent, now times are changing and lets hope for the better. A lot of women still do not understand that they have a own identity, especially after the marriage, they lose and by the time they realise... life is ending, sometimes I feel so sad and even frustrated when I listen to women who stay on in an abusive relationship, giving and giving with no appreciation and the whole family take them for granted... its so much of conditioning that women themselves are not willing to move on... because they are bombarded so much about the sacredness of marriage that despite exploitations, abuse and even attempt to murder they feel they must still continue at the cost of their health and even to save the family 's name, status.. lets hope for empowerment of women who will learn to value themselves ..

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    1. I know it was quite a lengthy post but I couldnt crop any of those sentences, they seemed important to me.
      You have made a very good point seriously a lot of women do forget that they have their own identity and that is because of our mental conditioning about the sacredness of marriage. I am glad such times are changing, with the change in the attitude of parents and women themselves for their own life.
      Thankyou so much for bringing more meaning to this post !

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  3. Very thought provoking post. I read it twice before commenting. You will be surprised to know that a few men in USA have started to take the surname of their wives after marriage. Things are changing slowly. I am glad you did not change your surname after marriage.

    Many of the Indian "rules" are derived from what Manu wrote 10,000 years ago. I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about Manu's advice. Here it is. I am sure you will like it. http://sg-shootthebreeze.blogspot.com/2010/01/bride-selection-manus-advice.html

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    1. Wow! That is really new to me. America is somewhere a trend setter, Indian males have become quite accomodating from last few decades.
      I am going to this link right away :)
      Thanks SG... :)

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  4. It's amazing that you kept your surname. I really admire couples who help each other keeping their identities as human beings. Sad how a woman is given every time a new identity as if she is some play thing. Superb post:)

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  5. The question of changing names is so awkward. Glad to hear you kept yours after getting married.

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  6. I hope in future... maybe after a decade or so, women don't have still struggle between the age old opinions and the new age role. I didn't change my surname either... in fact no one even asked me ... And I am really glad for that.

    A Whimsical Medley
    Twinkle Eyed Traveller

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    1. You are lucky Raj! I wasnt sure that I would be allowed to keep mine so I had to make it clear in advance. Yes I too hope women get a chance to live with equality atleast on their basic rights. I have come across many recently outside US who are reluctant to go back because of suffocating traditions back in home!

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Thankyou for your feedback :)

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