Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Husband Takes Wife’s Last Name

Women are often expected to take their husband’s name for the sake of a unified name, even if they feel a strong connection to their natal names. In our interviews, the husbands decided to take the names of their wives, who were far more attached to their names, to have the unified family name that was important to them. One of the interviewees, a man from liberal Berkeley, was surprised at the stigma he experienced due to this naming practice.

A husband taking his wife’s name is an excellent compromise for men who want a unified name, but whose wives prefer their own names. As mentioned before, men may experience stigma from a society that is not yet ready to accept the validity of matrilineal naming practices. One could fear that this would erase the man’s identity, but Michael Sinclaire- one of our interviewees who took his wife’s name– repudiates this, saying “Men aren’t going to start getting erased, that’s for sure. This isn’t a problem that men could legitimately argue, that ‘Oh, but then the men are going to start losing their identities.’ Bullshit, you know man? They’ll still have so much power in our mind…” This exemplifies how naming practices are just one manifestation of a society’s power dynamics.

Click Here for interviews with men who have taken their wives’ last names.

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