I Hyphenated My Surname as a Married Woman. It Wasn’t Easy. | OPINION

In a world where traditions and societal expectations often dictate our choices, it’s not uncommon for individuals to feel doubt and face scrutiny when deviating from the norm. Recently, I found myself in a similar situation when I decided to process a government document to hyphenate my surname. Personally, I dread the process of changing details in IDs and forms. As someone who has been married for two years now, I only do them in times of necessity / when I am required to do so.

Unveiling the Stereotypes

In one government office, a staff member told me that doctors and lawyers are the only ones who hyphenate their surnames. In pop culture, actresses are the ones who usually hyphenate their names. The notion that only doctors, lawyers, and actresses possess the right to hyphenate their surnames initially struck me as absurd. Why should a specific profession determine an individual’s entitlement to exercise their personal choice? This question underscores a deeper issue prevalent in society – the gender biases ingrained within our norms and expectations. From a humanistic standpoint, every person should have the freedom to shape their own identity without societal restrictions based on their chosen field or profession.

from a humanistic standpoint, every person should have the freedom to shape their own identity without societal restrictions

Navigating the Acceptance

Despite the initial scepticism and raised eyebrows, I stood firm in my decision. Over time, I faced retaliation for my choice, encountering confusion and being asked why I did not drop my maiden name on multiple occasions. It was a stark reminder that progress is slow in this country, even in the face of resistance. Challenging societal norms often comes with pushback, but it begs the question: When will it be fully accepted that women can make decisions for themselves? Humanism calls for the recognition of individual autonomy and the rejection of arbitrary restrictions based on gender or profession.

As I delved into the process of changing my surname, I encountered an unexpected roadblock. The government agency’s system labelled it as ‘complex’, indicating that it would take one month to update my maiden name. In contrast, assuming the man’s surname is a simple and immediate process. This disparity highlights the systemic hurdles that women face when exercising their rights. Even in the seemingly small act of changing a name, inequality persists. From a humanistic perspective, it is essential to address these disparities and ensure equal treatment and opportunities for all individuals, regardless of their gender.

The Unfulfilled Promise of Women’s Rights

While society claims progress in terms of gender equality, instances like these remind us that true equality is still a distant dream. Even in the digital age, where a simple tweak in a computer system could rectify the situation, the complete realization of women’s rights remains elusive. It is disheartening to witness that even within established systems, the full empowerment and equal treatment of women are not always prioritized.

Reflecting on my journey, I cannot help but emphasize the urgency for change. Gender equality should permeate every aspect of our lives, going beyond legislation and grand gestures. By challenging traditional norms, raising awareness, and demanding inclusivity, we can work towards a more equitable future guided by humanistic principles. Let us strive for a society where personal choices are respected.

Some Light

In contrast, I encountered a refreshing experience when obtaining my first hyphenated ID, the Police Clearance. The staff did not pose any additional questions or objections. Kudos to this agency for this.

My decision to hyphenate my surname may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it symbolizes a much larger struggle for gender equality. The questioning, complexities, and persistent biases I encountered throughout this process serve as a reminder that the fight for women’s rights is far from over. By sharing my experience, I hope to spark meaningful conversations and inspire change. Let us strive for a society where personal choices are respected, and women are granted the same rights and opportunities as their male counterparts. Together, we can pave the way for a brighter and more inclusive and compassionate future, rooted in the principles of humanism.

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HAPI Contributor
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