Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Jill Tiefenthaler

Jill maintained her natal name Tiefenthaler for professional reasons, but continues to use it socially.  She has two children with her husband, Kevin Rask, who both use his surname.

For Jill, the choice to keep her natal name was less of a decision, and more of a declaration: “In sort of a weird way, I just never really assumed I would give it up. So when my husband proposed, and shortly after we discussed it, I think he wasn’t surprised I had no intention of giving it up, having been together for several years. So we did talk a little bit about at that time whether we might pick another option, which was for us to both keep our names, which was one, we never really discussed me taking his name or him taking mine. … And when we had children we made the same decision, that rather than hyphenate for the two of them to have both of our names, that they would just have Rask rather than having ‘Tiefenthaler-Rask.’ But at that time I already had published as an economist, and had a network in my profession, and was known by name. So some of it was that, but I think more fundamentally even if it hadn’t been for that I would’ve kept my name, just because that’s who I thought I was.”

When asked how her decision to give her children a different surname, she said “You know, it’s funny, because they grew up on a campus at Colgate [University, New York], and there were lots of women there, academics who kept their names, and…they never really thought anything of it, my kids neither did. When we moved to North Carolina, it was the first time they really brought it up to me, because it was much less common, and they weren’t in a rural community, they weren’t around just academics, there were a lot of local folks. But I don’t think in three of four years either of them has ever mentioned it one way or another. Every once in a while, the only issue becomes when Olivia or Owen’s friends will call me ‘Mrs. Rask’ and we just roll with it, or one of the kids will say ‘No, don’t call her that, that’s not her name!’ But overall, I think it’s very natural for my children….We did decide to give them ‘Rask’ rather than ‘Teifenthaler’ or ‘Tiefenthaler-Rask.’ Part of that was ‘Tiefenthaler-Rask’ was too long. And the other part was we…felt we would be sort of conventional, and it would be easier for them to have their dad’s name.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s