Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Jennifer Gillis

Jennifer Gillis gave her daughter Maryka her natal last name when she was born. This was partially because she felt distanced from her daughter’s father, and also because her family was well known and respected in their community. Four years after her daughter was born Jennifer got married to a Russian man with the last name Kavikov. Because her daughter was already Gillis, Jennifer decided to keep her natal name through her marriage. Jennifer luckily felt little pressure from her husband to change her name:

“I definitely feel like I like my name…He came from Russian and has a very crazy name, so it would have been such a different—a big jump for me to go from Gillis to Kavikov, and he understood I had a daughter. It was never really an issue at all. It probably would have been more difficult if I had other children with my husband. And then maybe it would have been a little more confusing that they were Kavikov and she would be Gillis.”

Family connections and loyalty were important to Jennifer’s decision both to giver her daughter her natal name, as well as maintain this same name when she got married. As with many of our interviewee’s, Jennifer felt that a shared family name with your children seems to be a very important factor when making last-naming choices.

“When it comes down to it, it’s when you have children that it matters more than anything else”

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