Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Chris O’Neil

Chris O’Neil, interviewed in conjunction with Nick Mattson and Danny Keene, was given his mother’s natal name as his middle name, while his surname is that of his father.

When asked about his connection to his middle and last name, Chris responded, “I think there’s definitely a connection.  I mean, the whole carrying on the family thing…  I’m thinking about naming my kids, if I have any kids, I would name one of them Something Sherman, just because there’s no one on the other side of the family to carry it on.  My brothers have different middle names, so that’s now my name, but I don’t go by Christopher Sherman because that sounds weird to me.  So it’s still just the middle name at the same time. I like my name… I think it kind of covers my identity, but, you know, I’m not really Irish or anything like that.  And with a name like O’Neil, it’s very Irish ethnicity.  So if it’s a cultural identity, no, but if it’s like me as a person, yeah sure; I’d identify with it… I just feel like my name is a fine name. It’s not like a great, amazing name; I don’t love it. I wouldn’t be super open to changing it just because it’s been my name and that’s who I am, to some degree. I feel like I identify with it, but I don’t feel any super close attachment to it like I would if I made my own name.”

Chris also spoke on the importance of passing down one’s name, saying, “It’s to carry on this older family name, sort of.  It’s kind of just saying thanks to grandpa almost… By passing down your family name, you’re also passing down all your ancestors’ family name… Everyone’s connected to their parents in some way, so it’s just kind of passing on that connection.  It’s not that I’m connected to the older generations that I may not have met, you know; I don’t feel any real affinity for really old Irish ancestors or anything like that.”  And for marriage, “I would still be Chris O’Neil and my wife would still be whatever she wanted to be, but I’d rather that the kids had both names, or just my name if she doesn’t want to have a hyphenated name.  But either way, that’s cool.  Everyone has their own individual name then; just spreading the names out.  And then they can give their kids triple hyphenated names.  Long Hispanic, like Latino, Spanish last names always sound great… just dozens and dozens.”

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