What’s in a name?


I have often wondered why it is that in spite of the woman being the one to actually bear a child in her womb for 9 months and then giving birth to her child enduring the pain, she rarely gets to claim ownership of the child.

By ownership, I don’t mean the physical ownership. That obviously is hers. For the next three years at least, the whole family is just too happy to let her take the burden of the late nights and diaper changes and the milk and everything else that automatically becomes her responsibility.

But the day he/she is born, the proud father automatically attaches him name to the child’s name. It’s the same in every part of the world. At least I think so. Why? Just out of sheer curiosity. Why?

If the child is a girl, she can’t live with her maiden name for long. After marriage she is expected to change it again to match her husband’s.

Is it mandatory that the names have to change? Is it mandatory that we have to use the father’s name as the surname? What’s wrong with using the mother’s name?

To all those feminists who claim to fight for the equality of women, I have a sincere request. Change this fundamental rule. This rule is the one that automatically gives the man the all-powerful position in a household.

Times no longer confine the woman to the home. She can chose to work outside the home, from her home, or chose to do whatever she wants to with her life. No law prevents her from living her life as per her wishes. No law prevents her from wanting to live a single life either. No law forces women/men to be married. And certainly no law states that they have to have children.

The choices are many. But yet we succumb to the rules laid down by our parents and our society. We claim to live a modern life and yet still live in the shade of the Old World.

What do you think?

P.S: I am strictly speaking about the educated middle and upper classes here. The plight of the women in villages is still what it used to be years ago.


17 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. If someone follows Sikhism correctly, the last name of all men is 'Singh' and last name of all women is 'Kaur'. My wife did not change her name and always used 'Kaur' as her last name.But I know the answer why children get their father's name (not mother's). Everyone in the world knows the mother of a child. It is clear who gives birth. People can witness it. There is no doubt in anyone's mind. But no one except the mother knows the real father…just think beyond normal families and go back in history or go into future when morality was always questioned….


  2. We have got so used to this changing of the last name, that actually never gave it a thought so far. Given a choice I would of course go by the age old custom of taking the father's or the husband's surname. But I also know quite a few people who have not changed their names after marriage. Many even opt for a third name too.


  3. yes what u have written is right basically but such changes take place during generations, it is almost impossible to apply them to the entire world b'coz basically the whole world is male dominated


  4. Tagging the father's name, is perhaps identity but I believe tagging the mother's name too is a must. As for changing maiden name, many have don't these days. Like when I was just discussing this with a colleague, he says simple – “you can change your husband but not your father! so retain your your maiden name”


  5. Well, it is done because of conventions of society. But girls no longer necessarily change their maiden surname. It is widely accepted these days. I believe it is a personal choice. I did it because I wanted to not because I was pressured. Many retain both maiden surnames and marital surnames. I guess to each her own.


  6. I agree to what A says and secondly it is for a system..now a days names look so funny when girls write two surnames and if they want their children to follow that, their will be umpteen no of names there….marriage is an institution of love and system..if one loves the spouse,then there is no need to question it, and if one doesnt then their is no need of marriage..There are much more important issues in life to think about, so why think of trivial things only?


  7. @Renu – Its not about love at all in my point of view! Its about a system that has been followed for ages, thats all. But if a mother has to give her child her husband's name to prove her morality, that is a serious loss of the word “love” in a marriage and a serious loss of dignity for a woman. 🙂 This is all totally my point of view. Trivial or not, its an issue too. 🙂


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