Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Karen Rojas-Palacios

Karen has her mother and father’s paternal surnames hyphenated. She is of Salvadorian heritage, and, though she reports that hyphenation is not traditional in El Salvador, her parents chose to hyphenate with her mother’s surname first.

When I asked Karen if she had experienced challenges with her last names, she responded that, “I guess I did because, like, I didn’t know which one to choose. I was like, “Should I write all of it?” They [teachers]… sometimes called me by Palacios and sometimes by Rojas… I don’t know what order I’m going to in class… And it’s kind of frustrating because they would put on my name tag ‘Karen Palacios’, and I want Rojas. So it’s like, “Oh no, should I tell them or just leave it like that?”

Karen also responded to my questioning about feminism among Hispanic women that, “They might have feminist thoughts, but they don’t realize it. They just go on like, “Oh, we want our last names next to our husbands’ last names.”… I think most Hispanic women have some feminist thought, especially if they come from a Hispanic country because, like, I mean, there’s a lot of macho men, but when they come here, they have more independence.”

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