Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Prior Research

2013 Bibliography– A list of sources that helped us contextualize our research.

Research on the subject of feminist last naming practices is not extensive.  Hoffnung (2006) analyzed middle-to-upper class East Coast citizens, and concluded that nontraditional naming has neither increased nor decreased since the 1980s. Hoffnung also found that educated women, women who married later, and women who were more career-focused were all more likely to have nontraditional names.  Mills (2003) analyzed feminist women’s negotiations with naming practices, and showed how terms such as sexism, anti-sexism, and political correctness influenced the way women viewed nontraditional naming practices. Some feminists worried about the societal implications of taking a man’s name, while non-feminists worried about the societal implications of keeping their names.  Finally, Ridge (2003) examined the levels of societal pressure on naming practices, and argued that the solution to the naming practice problem should be to create environments of acceptance towards all naming practices, rather than to try and find one universal naming practice

These works tend to take at face value that we know what a meaningful, “feminist” naming intervention looks like, whereas this project takes that debatable premise as its starting point. We still lack an in-depth, ethnographic approach to studying last naming practices. Statistics aside, how do those individuals living our naming experiments most closely experience this uncharted territory?  By sharing detailed accounts of those people, the Feminism and Last-Naming Practices Project seeks to ignite a conversation about alternative last naming practices.


Hoffnung, M. (2006). What’s In a Name? Marital Name Choice Revisited. Sex Roles, 55(11-12), 817-825.

Mills, S. (2003). Caught between sexism, anti-sexism and ‘political correctness’: feminist women’s negotiations with naming practices. Discourse & Society, 14(1), 87-110.

Ridge, C. (2008). Voluntary Choices and Feminism: Names, Naming and Community. Conference Papers — Midwestern Political Science Association, 1-27.


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