Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Anne Goodman James

When Anne married Bubba James, she decided to keep her natal name, Goodman, and add James without a hyphen. She uses both last names professionally and socially, though her children only use James.

When asked her reason for her choice, she said: “When I decided to get married, I had a couple of considerations. One, being I wanted to maintain my own identity, and two, was that I had worked professionally for several years using my maiden name, and did not want to lose that connection in my professional world. So it was important to me to keep that part of my name in the name after I was married. But decided to go ahead and use both names, looking forward to if we had a family and had children that they would have that connection.”

Anne’s choice to giver her children only James as a last name stemmed from a desire for simplicity. She believes the naming option she chose for them accomplished her goal and still let her maintain her identity: “I think using that pattern, whether it’s as a middle name and last name or as a hyphenated name, certainly is a step in what I consider the right direction. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be what everyone does. I think the thing about naming that I’ve always been sort of curious about though is when you look at families where the woman has kept the maiden name, and you have children…the woman carried the baby, why is it the man’s last name? And that’s very traditional, obviously, and then you look at some Spanish cultures, and they just keep adding names on! Where does that stop? And my other question is, children whose parents have hyphenated the names, and their name is hyphenated…what if they marry someone whose name is hyphenated? What do you think they should do then? I don’t know! That’s going to get crazy out of hand!”

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