Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Annette Waterman and Allegra Waterman-Snow

When Annette Waterman married her ex-husband she decided not to change her natal name. She described her decision as having to do with maintaining her identity.

“I didn’t really want to just be known as Brent’s wife. I got married at an older age, I was 36 I think…I had already had a long life as a Waterman and I didn’t really want to change that. So I think it had something to do with wanting to stay independent, I just saw no need for it. Plus, it’s a lot easier—you don’t have to get a new license. (laughs)”

She also asserted that her decision was influenced by feminism. Despite this, upon the birth of her children Annette and her husband decided to give them their father’s last name, Snow. Annette discussed this choice as:

 “Just going along with tradition. He has a pretty large family, and I have a very small family, so maybe just to fit in and be part of that family we decided just to have them all Snows.”

However, when Annette divorced from her husband when her daughter Allegra was 10 years old, tradition became less important than maintaining a family connection through names. Upon learning that her mother was the last Waterman, Allegra made the independent choice to add her mother’s natal name to her father’s using a hyphen—becoming Allegra Waterman-Snow. Allegra described how her choice was, and remains, a significant part of her life and identity:

“When you say somebody’s name, there is so much connected to it. With a name, it’s not only with last names history and your genealogy…when you say somebody’s name, everything about them comes to mind, who they are as a person—their identity comes to mind.”

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