Who actually gets to own their own signature, to speak directly to their identity in this way? To get a name that’s yours, that you own, that contains your own history and the history of your kin?
I don’t know if my mom would classify keeping her ‘maiden name’ as a feminist act: I don’t want to diminish her capacity in this regard, but it’s a common enough practice for Muslim women. There’s some pretty extensive sunnah behind it. That doesn’t actually matter though. What matters is that regardless of her thoughts on the matter, this was illegible as a feminist act as far as the well-meaning
White troop leader was concerned.
Though the practice may be common, its signification in this context makes both the name and
its owner invisible. Having your actions understood as the intentional choices of an independent agent is a luxury granted only to those whose identities aren’t defined by their silence.