Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Marcia Dobson

Marcia Dobson took her first husband’s name and retained it upon divorce and remarrying in order to stay connected with her daughter, who had the last name Dobson, and also because of the difficulties involved with changing her last name further.

In spite of the above reasons, Ms. Dobson expressed regret at keeping her first husband’s surname, saying, “I kept my name Dobson after I divorced, or my husband and I got divorced, so I could be related to my daughter. When she herself got married, then I was left with the name Dobson…wanting to actually change back to my single name, but it was just too complicated to do it in terms of income taxes and the government and all of that… As a matter of fact, in the world of Colorado Springs, I would just assume not have this name because I’m often connected with the Reverend Dobson. And sometimes I almost get genuflected to in Safe Ways… I chose to retain it because, as a feminist, I am very deeply connected with my daughter. And I wanted to give her a sense of her own identity for as long as she wanted it.

Ms. Dobson also explained what she had hoped for when she decided to retain the name Dobson; remarking that “Everybody knows how to pronounce it! When I was Dunbar-Soule, I could be Soulay, I could be Dunbarso, that good Italian name! I found lots of different pronunciations, I was constantly having to spell it. I chose Dobson for simplicity’s sake. But I’m not particularly happy to be a Dobson. I don’t particularly like the name, and that part of my life is now over. I have always considered myself a feminist, and so I often my name is Dobson but it’s an alias… It doesn’t really belong to me. It belongs to a certain part of my history, and that’s part of why I keep it. But I’ve always much more related to both my mother’s and my father’s name.”

Interviewed by Erik Laitos

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