Men (and women) in patriarchal societies are raised to believe it is natural, required, honorable, empowering, manly and but-expected for men to want to compete with other men and women, in a continuous effort to prove their ‘manliness’ (Just like women in patriarchal societies are expected to compete with each other for their attractiveness to men and their capacity to sacrifice for men) Almost everything they do is under scrutiny.
One of the things required of the ‘real man’ is to expect and to ensure that the woman he marries takes his name (first name, last name, caste name, family name, village name).
Here’s how one man dealt with this.
It was common for Europeans to have one name 1,000 years ago. I’m Jonathan. Full stop. But last names grew to symbolize relationships with society over time. They stemmed from clans and class and titles and towns. If you met someone called Goldsmith, that person probably smithed gold.
But a problem appeared: Servants, slaves, children, and women were a white man’s property, so they fell under his family name. Now, generations later, a black woman somewhere in Alabama goes by the last name Chadwick after her great-great-grandfather’s slave-owner’s grandfather’s hometown in England.
Chadwick, by the way, means “Chad’s dairy farm” in Old English.
My parents hyphenated their names in the 1970s, for example. My mom was Camery, and my dad was Hoggatt, and I was born a Camery-Hoggatt.
Upside: Both families are represented equally.
Downside: This only works for one generation.
I married Rebecca Jones. If we hyphenated, we would have become the Jones-Camery-Hoggatts, and if our kids and grandkids hyphenate, they’ll have last names like Tutu-Smithersby-Rodrigues-Jones-Camery-Hoggatt, and that just seems irresponsible.
So we picked a new last name.
We wanted one that’s easy to pronounce and that fits well with our first names. Simple. That’s why, on our wedding day, we both took the last name Jackson.
One woman tried to insult me by saying that I must have a small penis. This struck me as odd for three reasons: First, I hadn’t considered correlating penis size with resistance to social norms. Second, each body is unique. I will never be insulted by comparisons to anyone’s body type. Third, my penis is probably bigger than hers. Sadly, sexism comes in all shapes and sizes. But her reaction wasn’t surprising.
Our society needs an overhaul, and this last name choice won’t make a huge difference by itself. We know that. It’s quiet. It’s subtle. But it still undermines small power asymmetries. In that sense, our last name has the potential to stand for something much, much bigger:
It symbolizes our relationship with society itself.
Please watch this Havells fans ad- Hawa Badlegi – Registrar’s Office. [Link shared by Anita Rao]
Hawa badlegi roughly translates to the winds (or the times) are changing.
And here’s one of the prize winning entries in the Joru Ka Gulaam Badges contest.
Created by Vikas Gupta, this badge was chosen by JKG Kislay for JUDGES’ SPECIAL MENTION AWARD
Man’s Man? No thanks. – Cynically Engineered
Honor and Masculinity: How Patriarchy Warps Your Thinking – Cynically Engineered