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Hits and Mrs

Husband’s name? No. I have chosen another man’s name. My father’s. Quite revolutionary, don’t you think? Lalita Panicker writes.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2009 10:36 IST
Hindustan Times

Are we for freedom of choice for women? To mangle an Obama-ism, yes we are. So when Sanjay Dutt, that well-known feminist of Pali Hill, says that women who become part of a new family should assume their new surname and all the responsibilities that come with it, do we take him seriously enough to attack him roundly? Yes, we do.

And into the pit, we have that doughty champion of all rights, minister for women and child development Renuka Chaudhary. ‘Archaic, outdated views,’ she fumed. Let’s hope that Dutt remembers from his Munnabhai character that Gandhi and Ambedkar fought for equal rights for women, she railed. It’s entirely up to the woman whether she wants to retain her maiden name, she raved.

Yes, Ms Chaudhary, we know and you are contradicting yourself. The new Mrs Dutt has exercised her choice. She wants to be known by her famous husband’s name. So what’s the quarrel? Not to be left behind, the chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), Girija Vyas, has waded in with the non-comment that a woman has a right to take whatever name she wants. Either Vyas has not seen the light that we have or the NCW has a lot of time on its hands.

I consider myself a bit of a feminist and have retained my maiden name. So while making a statement in not choosing my husband’s name, I have chosen that of another man, my father. Quite revolutionary, don’t you think?

The politically correct are out asking why Michelle Obama, a successful career woman, gave it all up to support her husband. I can quite see even the staunchest of feminists shun Michelle’s position to make a career statement.

This is not to be flip on the issue of women’s rights. But surely, there are more pressing problems of gender equality than a name-change, unless it is thrust down an unwilling throat. The Dutt saga is plain and simple: a family dispute with Dutt taking a swipe at his sister who has retained her famous patronymic and has launched a political broadside at Munnabhai. It is an amusing sideshow, not a question of women’s empowerment. It’s simply the name of the game.

First Published: Jan 21, 2009 10:35 IST