Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Sarah Hautzinger

Sarah chose to keep her natal name for both professional and feminist reasons. She and her husband, Tim Ferguson, agreed to give their two children both of their last names without a hyphen, with the intention they would only use Ferguson. She acknowledges the hassle she has imposed on her children.

When asked why she decided not to take the last name Ferguson, she responded, “I might have liked his name. I like the last name Ferguson a lot. And especially because I do have more Irish, Scottish ancestry myself even more than my Austria ancestry. But Sarah Ferguson? Princess? That would be a problem. Weight Watchers spokesperson? Problem. Anyways, I had already earned a doctorate under the name Hautzinger. Had already published some scholarly articles and that kind of thing. I think I wanted to keep my name as an author and as my professional name.”

With Sarah using her natal name, and Tim, his, choosing a surname for their two children became a process. “We put Ferguson Hautzinger because we thought it sounded better I guess. And that is where we went wrong. Because, first of all, our older daughter, as soon as she got to school and things. She insisted on using Ferguson Hautzinger all the time. Which we didn’t anticipate. We didn’t factor in the kid’s will! Right? And, secondly, we probably should have put my name first and his name last. People in the United States think your last, last name is your real last name. And if they notice that that last, last name is not the father’s, then they literally insert a hyphen to make sure that the father doesn’t “invisible”, which is really surprising to me.”

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