Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

JoAnna McCort Fischman

JoAnna McCort was born as the last in the familial line of the McCorts. She was raised in “a very progressive, feminist household.” Her parents raised her to believe that with surnames “you needed to do what best fit you.” To them, taking a husband’s last name did not make a woman anti-feminist.

When she married, JoAnna legally kept her natal name and uses it in the contexts of work and school. She uses her husband’s name for home-related and some legal situations. In legally keeping her maiden name, McCort says, “it gave me an opportunity to give back to my parents. Although they are no longer living…” and she wanted them connected “for any successes I had.”

Simultaneously, McCort places much value in a unified family name. When referring to families with hyphenated names, McCort says most of the times it bugs her because it’s confusing when the children’s’ names differ from the parents. Referring to her situational use of JoAnna McCort Fischman, McCort says, “I actually feel like I built a nice strong family unit by using Fischman.”

However, when asked if she would make the same naming choice in the present day, McCort says, “I might actually keep my last name now… I think it was just easier at the time to do it the way I did it… I think I would just be JoAnna McCort… It still makes me sad I don’t identify as that anymore.”

Interviewer: Rachel Fischman


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