Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Roxi Power Hamilton

Roxi was born Roxanne Power, a name given from her birth dad. Her mother remarried when she was six and Roxi took her stepfather’s last name Hamilton at 11 when he adopted her.

“And apparently that decision was very contentious emotionally and legally, at that time, he was the economic provider for the family, and so it seemed like I needed to be economically signified under his name, I understood that, because my dad wasn’t paying child support. But emotionally I felt guilty, and sad for him. So there was the beginnings of this filial attachment to fathers intermixed with a strange kind of feminist resistance to having to be signified by them all along as I got older. So I became Roxi Hamilton.”

Later Roxi decided she wanted to go back to Roxi Power but didn’t get around to it for professional reasons, because she was publishing under Hamilton, and also thought it could be emotionally complicated with her stepfather.

“He died four years ago, and that set in motion for me now a sense of freedom, for me to make my own decisions. But it’s also strange, I consider myself a very strong feminist and you would think I would be able to make my own decisions regardless of the effects upon all the patrilineal concerns.”

Roxi and her partner Laura of 14 years both kept their last names, and when having a daughter decided to give her a hyphenated last name.

“We used kind of a matrilineal naming practice to come up with that, we chose her middle name Joy, which was my mom’s middle name and my grandmother’s name, and many other women’s in my family. So I her middle name was the way we signified the relationship to the mothers on my side….Finally, the hyphenated last name always seemed like the most egalitarian choice at the time. There are many ways the non-bio mom can disappear from the story and from legitimacy, but that’s another huge story. A name is a powerful signifier, as you know.”

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