Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Lowell Ensel

When Lowell Ensel’s parents got married, they decided they would both keep their last names. When Lowell was born, he received his mother’s natal name. Lowell explains, “My dad didn’t want me to have a common last name.” In fact, his father, so dismayed at the commonness of his own name legally changed his first name to a very uncommon name. Lowell continues, “Out of the choices Williamson and Ensel, my dad insisted that I have the less common, (more creative as he would probably say) last name.”

This naming practice often elicits surprise from people who address Lowell’s father as “Mr. Ensel”. Lowell describes this situations as: “I don’t think shocked but be the right word, but there was definitely a level of surprise” when they realized “‘Oh, my assumption was wrong!’ Like, that’s not how it always is, I guess”

Both his parents identify as feminists, as does he. As a male feminist, he has noticed much about the stigma that the term holds. He says, “I don’t think it’s like a major stigma that like no one can say that, but I think there’s just a slight, like, if someone straight up asks you, ‘Are you a feminist?’, there’s a little bit of a- of a thing in me that’s like…Oh, would this like not be socially okay to say, ‘Yeah I’m a feminist?'”? When asked to describe the stigma, he explains “If you’re a [presumably male] feminist, then that makes you soft, that makes you like less tough- I think there’s also something associated with like, if you’re a feminist, then like, you’re a pussy.”

 

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