What’s in a surname?
By Kiran Manral
When the fabulous Ms Steinem had made famous Irina Dunn’s feminist slogan about women needing men as much as a fish needed a bicycle, I was a fledgling feminist. The very first time I came across the statement, it quite disoriented me. I was just get about getting my training wheels off the bicycle she mentioned, and here was I being told to question whether I needed men. And then there was the equally fabulous Katherine Hepburn who blithely declared that men and women should not live together but merely visit each other from time to time. The arrangement made perfect sense to me, even though I had back then yet to encounter the dreaded phenomenon of the wet towel on the freshly made bed, and the weekend TV watching coma surrounded by beer can detritus that afflicts the male of the species.
Nonetheless, it eventually happened that I fell in love and got married and, gosh, even changed my surname. Did I even dare to call myself a feminist anymore? The sisterhood eyed me with suspicion. The hapless spouse, on the other hand, had his own battles to fight with his mates. There was sympathy and much back patting, I assume, when they figured that he’d married a woman who had publicly declared herself a feminist. I suppose some of them thought I had a retractable tail and horns, and that I spent my weekends sharpening the tines of my pitchfork. Well, not much has changed in the over two decades since then.
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