Now while Chopra needs no introduction, if she had to be described in a word or phrase, she could be ‘superstar’, ‘powerful’, ‘successful’, ‘Bollywood’s best gift to Hollywood, ‘Multi-talented artist’; but of course this is a matter of love, Jonas is allowed to describe the love of his love the way he wants to, but does he really get to decide Chopra’s surname after marriage? Nope. But hey, let’s not forget that the belief that women are commodities isn’t desi, it’s a global phenomenon.
The Bollywood actor had shared the same photo on her Instagram account, captioning it, “Taken … With all my heart and soul.”
The one thing that seemed to have really bothered our sanskari country when the speculations on Chopra and Jonas’ marriage had begun was their age difference. Priyanka Chopra is 36. Nick Jonas is 25.
The Chopra fan club then took to social media to explain how she was defying the tradition and breaking stereotypes by marrying someone who is 11 years younger to her. Sure, in a country that’s ruled by the idea that the wife should be weaker, not financially independent or at least doesn’t make more than the husband, it would be blasphemous for her to be older than the husband. Chopra and Jonas must have learned the hard way after the innumerous hate messages. And, in a way, Chopra was indeed breaking those stereotypes about a woman being less successful than a man for them to be the ‘right’ couple.
After defying all those stereotypes, Mr Nick Jonas just decided to show the universal male fragile ego by calling his ‘heart’ his ‘love’ aka PeeCee, the future Mrs. Jonas.
First, are we sure PeeCee wants to change her last name? And say, if we were to assume that PeeCee has decided to become ‘Jonas’ after marriage, well, then, in that case, she should be the one making that announcement, and not Mr Jonas.
Soon after Sonam Kapoor married Anand Ahuja, she faced criticism for changing her name shortly after the wedding. But, the actor rightly pointed out that she is a feminist in every sense and changing her name is her choice alone. Yes, absolutely. Feminism is after all about choices and judging someone for their choices is basically the antithesis of feminism. But here’s the thing, in Priyanka Chopra’s case, she didn’t get to tell the world that it was her choice. (Even if it was). And that’s where the problem lies.
Our name is our identity. When Priyanka Chopra was on her way to becoming a superstar, she was nicknamed ‘PeeCee’. Most tabloids would since then go on to address her with her newfound nickname. Of course she won’t be PeeCee anymore if she has decided to be Mrs Jonas.
A woman changing her last name after her marriage has been a part of the tradition in most places across the world. Until the ninth century, the idea didn’t even surface in English common law, when lawmakers began to consider the legalities surrounding personhood, families, and marriage. This is when the concept of coverture came in.
‘Coverture’, which literally means “covered by”, is to show that a woman has no identity without a man’s. It actually starts from the birth of a girl child when her last name is that of her father’s. And then, when she is married she takes up her husband’s last name ensuring that she has no independent legal identity apart from her spouse’s. This same law prevented women from entering into contracts, engaging in litigation, participating in business, and owning properties.
In the United States, a much-needed feminist uprising occurred in the 1800s to protest against the law that prevented women from having an independent legal identity. Finally, in the 1970s, the law to take the husband’s last name was scrapped of by the Supreme Court in the US. In India, there is absolutely no law forcing a woman to take up the husband’s name. However, women continue to follow the tradition, more of than not, for one reason: Not to upset the husband or his family.
While a woman deciding to drop her maiden after marriage is supposed to be just her choice alone, it doesn’t quite work that way in the society we live in. Every time a woman decides to not take up her husband’s name, a male angel loses his wings. In fact, a study proved it too.
Researcher Rachael Robnett from the University of Nevada Las Vegas wanted to measure the social perception of men married to women who keep their last names. What she found out wasn’t quite baffling, but it was a reassurance: Male egos are so fragile that even our phone screens would be ashamed. The study showed that society perceived men as weak-willed ninnies if their wives don’t change their last name after marriage. In other words, they are of course married to power-hungry feminists, otherwise why would want to keep their identity, right? So while the men (whose wives don’t take their surname) are seen as disempowered and less masculine by their peers, the women are considered high-status, powerful, ambitious and assertive. If the woman takes the surname, the man is seen as well, man.
The research may have been conducted some 15,000 kms from our country, but the results will be the just the same anywhere you go. Thanks to years of conditioning, men and women alike believe that a woman having a mind (In this case, identity) of her own will make power get to her head and the man will be left at her mercy. Because, in some twisted logic, our society believes that men and women can’t be equally powerful. It’s like a pendulum– if one side falls, the other side rises.
Perhaps, Mr Jonas also had the same belief. We can’t blame him after all, can we?