Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Joyce Norton-McCormick

Out of a desire to remain independent, while at the same time creating a family unit, Joyce Norton-McCormick hyphenated her last name during her second marriage.  The rest of her nuclear family carry her husband’s surname, McCormick.

Going outside of the norm oftentimes elicits a response of one kind or another.  When asked about how others responded to her decision to hyphenate her last name, Ms. Norton-McCormick shared the following experiences:

“John’s [her son] never really expressed anything about it. But when Hugh [her son] was younger, probably 6 or so, he used to always… not always, once in a while, he would say something about, ‘What’s that Norton thing? Why do you do that Norton thing?’ because it was almost like he wanted me to change it so that I wouldn’t be different from the three of them… It gets tougher. I’ve even said to people, ‘Oh, what I would do for my independence,’ because so many people, believe it or not in this day in age, still don’t get it. You know, when I tell them that my name is hyphenated, its Joyce Norton-McCormick, they continue to go to McCormick for medical records and they can’t find it… Many people aren’t aware of hyphenated names to the point where I think, ‘Why did I ever do this? Why didn’t I just use McCormick versus using Norton?’… But I kind of like it, I think it really keeps me in touch with my past and my family.”

Ms. Norton-McCormick also spoke of role models that influenced her decision, saying, “I would have to say that Gloria Steinem certainly was a very important role model for me.  And maybe the antithesis of role models; maybe kind of observing my mom going through life and how her last name to me represented the way she was treated, which wasn’t really equally.”

Interviewer: Gracie Rennecker



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