Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Mary Hall

Mary chose to maintain her natal name when she married for practical and feminist identity reasons. She and her husband were both proud of her decision, though her parents were not. Her father refused to call her by her natal name after marriage, calling her by the name of her husband instead.

Mary explains the story: “Well, when I was getting married I decided that I wanted to keep my last name, not switch to my husband’s last name. To me, it sort of didn’t make sense. And, the interesting thing about pairing, that was one of the things, it was difficult, at that time, to find people when their names had changed. Anyway I opted to keep my own last name and i thought my family would be thrilled about that, my mother and my father, and they were not at all. They were very upset, especially my father. And until the day he died, which was a couple years ago, he always introduced me with my husband’s last name. And the times he wrote something, he always used that last name…I was floored. I thought he was going to be very proud that I would do that, and in fact he was not. He thought that was not fair to the other family, he did not understand what that was about at all. And he never did, but it sort of became a joke to me, him calling me by a different name. Ha! Yeah, you know, it didn’t change my mind about it, when he reacted that way, like ‘Oh, I wont do it then.’

Despite the reaction Mary received from her parents, she and her husband maintained the decision. Even so, Mary feels her name wasn’t carried on to the extent that she would have liked: “I didn’t consider it like it like a really big deal. So it wasn’t like oh, all this thought and pain [inaudible] this is who I am [inaudible] And my husband agreed with that completely. He did? Did you discuss it with him? Oh yeah, yep, he said it’s fine, it is your name. umm…he didn’t feel the same way about the kid’s last names though. He wanted it to be his last name. Were you opposed to that? Umm, I think I, our first son, he had both of our names, my last name was his middle name. And I wish I’d done that with the other two. With the other two, that wasn’t the case. I regret that now.”

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