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Sonam's name change - a blow to the cause of feminism?
- Planet Bollywood Special Correspondant           Let us know what you think about this article

Sonam Kapoor (now Kapoor-Ahuja) got married on May 8, 2018 to long-time beau Anand Ahuja, a businessman who shuttles between Delhi and London for work. While the wedding and the pre and post wedding festivities were covered extensively by the media, something which happened immediately after the marriage drew a lot of attention from the media and fans of the actress who are active on social media. Sonam added Ahuja, her husband's surname to her name and it immediately started reflecting on all her social media handles. Her move created a lot of furore on social media as people felt the actress her own principles and beliefs on feminism.

Even though we live in the 21st century, a large number of young women, across the globe, prefer to change their surname or add their husband's surname to their maiden surname. Sonam has opted for the latter as she did not change her surname but added her husband's surname to it. Though it is not mandatory by law (at least in free countries) a lot of modern women continue to adhere to this practice of changing their surname after marriage. Why do women are expected to change their surname after marriage and men are not - this is a common question posed by feminists and champions of gender equality. The same question was posed to Sonam by her followers on social media and the media. The actress, in a couple of interviews post her marriage, rightly said that whether she changes her name or not is completely her decision and nobody has the right to question it.

Being liberal necessarily means the liberty to choose and feminists strongly advocate that. I am someone who strongly advocates that myself. I completely agree to Sonam's statement that the right to change or not to change her surname is complete hers. Having said that, Sonam's decision does reflect the problematic mind-set of a lot of young women who portray themselves to be modern, cosmopolitan, liberal and progressive. While they might not admit to it, their thoughts are bound and their actions are dictated by the largely patriarchal society that India is. They refuse to conform to some of the archaic norms of the society and yet, subconsciously are driven by the same traditional thought which is steeped in patriarchy and other regressive ideas. Sonam supported her decision by stating that even Anand has also changed his name. Well, Anand has just added an S between his name and surname. Now, whether that S stands for Sonam or his father Sunil, that is something only Anand can tell. Even if it does stand for Sonam, it seems like a small token of appreciation for what she did.

Less than two years back, Twinkle Khanna received a couple off messages on Twitter asking her as to why she has not changed her name after marriage. To this, she tweeted, "A lot of people bring this up, though not as stridently as this gentleman - Khanna it will always be #MarriedNotBranded." Her response drew a lot of appreciation and cheers. One should respect Sonam's decision of adding her husband's surname to her maiden name as gender equality also stands for every individual the choice and the freedom to do what they wish to do. However, had Sonam, like Twinkle, decided not to make any change in her surname after marriage, it would have set a good example for all those women who look up to her and believe in her when she says she is a feminist.


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