I’m the eldest of a four siblings. I have only one brother.
Today, my Mum changed her name on facebook to that of Umm (Umm)-my brother. Which irritated me now, as much as it did when she used to call herself Umm-my brother when I was little.
Although the reasons why have changed somewhat, from ‘I was born first, I’ve been your kid the longest, why not me?’ when I was a child – to, as an adult, feeling sad that (i) my Mum chooses to ignore and disacknowledge the three of us without a penis who my Mum also gave birth to, but (ii) and more sadly for me, that my Mum’s identity seems to have been subsumed and exchanged with that of my brother. If anything, shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t my brother identify himself as son-of-my-Mum, she has done everything for him? My Mum will argue that this an Arab/Islamic/Traditional thing to do, but it isn’t it just reducing women to the producers of heirs, as if that is their role, par excellence, in society, and their highest accolade? Is it not a symptom of society that dismisses the achievements and identity of women? Shouldn’t a woman be as proud to identify themselves as mothers of their daughters, as of their sons – and what’s this ridiculous idea that we should not use our names and use that of our sons to identify ourselves? I think it’s a stupid, dehumanising tradition and one that soon, I hope, is forgotten.