Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Lisa Mueller

Lisa Mueller kept her natal name upon marriage for professional, familial, and identity preserving reasons. In describing her last name story, “Jack Dillard and I had been a couple for a long time prior to our getting married and I had always had my name… I had gone to law school and the people whom I had known at that time knew me as Lisa Mueller. I somehow felt I had no desire to change my name, and I liked my name and it was a tie to my family heritage.”

She explains why she kept her last name, “There were multiple motivations [to keeping my last name]. I think I liked my name; I liked the link to my family… I knew at that time, which would have been the late seventies, early eighties, that it was a way of carving out an individual identity.” Her father-in-law was “rattled” at the fact that she did not take his family name, Dillard. “He’s come up with every conceivable mutation of the two names. He’s hyphenated them both ways, he’s come up with various titles.”

She discusses how it is difficult to separate political and personal reasons for choosing a last name because she likes her family name, and her identity is tied to her last name but she is also obviously making a political statement by keeping her natal surname.

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