The insistence by media, government and the ‘state’ to disrespect Bilawal Bhutto and Maryam Nawaz choice of surnames embody the fundamental tenet of patriarchy and the accompanying trait of misogyny: Public erasure of women. By refusing to respect Bilawal’s choice of surname, the right legacy of a woman, in this case as great a woman as Benazir, is denied. Not only a legacy but the very basic right of being associated with your children. It is like saying that a mother has no identity to transmit. By refusing to respect Maryam’s choice of surname, the legacy of a woman to choose is denied. It also portrays that women are ‘property’ which after marriage are transferred from fathers to husbands and no matter what, they have to respect this social convention.

Some say that choices of surnames are for the reasons of political expediency, even If they are, so what? You have to perfectly selfless and politically neutral reasons to not abide by the social conventions of patriarchy and for that to be respected? This cheap tactic of hitting at political opposition indicates the vulgarity of the deeply patriarchal and masculine political culture. I am not sure how this disrespect of choice of surname affects these two leaders but it surely stunts our political imagination and puts to shame any claim of equal political participation.

NAVEED ABBAS MAITLO,

Islamabad.