Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Charles Sjolander

Charles Sjolander and his ex-wife, whose last name is Jasperse, decided to give their two sons hyphenated names. Charles describes this decision, while laughing, as

“Oh yeah, we were just wimps. We couldn’t make a decision; we couldn’t bite the bullet and kinda do something. We just wimped out and did a hyphenated name.”

Charles felt particularly attached to the ethnic history of his name, which was created when his great ancestor immigrated to the United States. He discussed in the interview how in Scandinavian countries last names were foreign ideas—and in fact many Scandinavian names were “just created out of the blue.”

Despite Charles affection and attachment towards his natal name, his now ex-wife disliked it—leading to their decision to hyphenate their names when their sons were born. This decision has not been without its inconveniences, as Charles talked about:

“I mean Jasperse-Sjolander—that’s cruel for a first grader to have to, you know, write their name…And it never fits on government forms, school forms it never fits…something always gets hacked off.”

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