Tuesday, July 15, 2014


What Happened When We Gave Our Daughter My Last Name

invisible girlOn a snowy morning in college, I sat up on my futon, stared out the dorm window, and nudged my boyfriend Chris. “What would you think about our children having my last name?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said, still half-asleep, “Why wouldn’t they have your last name?”

I was probably too shy then to show my relief.

Time passed. We split up for a year, got married ten years later and then, in our mid-30’s, found ourselves with a babe on the way. We didn’t know girl or boy, but we had already re-decided that our babe’s last name would be my last name. Mixing up convention had always mattered to me. Chris also liked the sound of it better, with his last name as a middle name.

It didn’t feel revolutionary to us. It felt normal.

At four months pregnant, when people asked if we’d chosen a first name, we shared our last name choice instead. Neither of us expected any drama. Our far flung and nearby communities had always been open-minded. That’s why the shockwave shocked us.

My younger brother started it off by asking me how Chris felt about being emasculated. He was joking, and he did apologize about it later, but I couldn’t help wonder if he somehow represented all the men who might feel emasculated by our choice. My mother, always a supporter, just sighed. “Well,” she said, “Just be ready for the responses. Your child might have some trouble on the playground.”

Trouble on the playground?” I laughed.

She started to explain, backing right back into the conservative Catholic upbringing she’d spent years amending, that the others might tease her/him for being different. I lobbed back that if that’s the worst thing my child gets teased for then we’re doing okay, and then she asked how Chris’s parents felt about this choice, as if we needed permission from them. But, after twenty minutes of back and forth, she had launched herself over to my side, huffing and puffing her best you-go-girl speech. “You’re right! Why shouldn’t your child have your name? You’re the one who actually has to give birth.”

As my belly grew, the comments got even stranger. I had secretly hoped for no reaction, for our choice to be as common as saying, “I went with the mustard instead of the ketchup.” No reaction would mean something good, right? That women in this country are, for example, no longer considered the property of men, even in name. That archaic systems are truly collapsing. That we can reclaim language that was formerly used to control us.

But it seemed, at least to me, that using a woman’s last name for a child threatened everyone. An older woman asked me if I was doing this to make a point. Why was all this doing perceived as mine, not my husband’s as well? At a party, a peer told me she was “diehard Obama” and then argued that her only real concern about using a woman’s last name is that you risk the ease of preserving lineage and historical records.

“Really?” I kept responding.

I always tried to be kind. But my outrage began to blossom.

Everyone has some sort of charge around this issue—including me. Everyone has to defend the decision they make about it. Over and over again, I watched women acquaintances hear me mention it and then, almost immediately, the mask of self-protection would slide over their faces. They probably saw me as a better-than-thou type. I tried hard not to be that. I didn’t want to shame anyone. I only told people when I was asked and purposely acted casual about it. Some of my married women friends said nothing; some smiled big smiles; my single friends told me either they were taking notes or they could never possibly. Men often looked unsure but pretended to be hip to it. One guy friend teased, “Of course you would.”

Then, I took my pregnant, vomiting, exhausted self to New York to visit my cousin—a remarkable and fierce woman whose Facebook “political views” description reads I’m for doing drugs during an abortion while marrying a gay illegal immigrant. We drove around her neighborhood and she showed me the street art she photographs. At some point, I told her about my baby’s last name. She lifted her hands off the steering wheel and yelled, “What?!” as if in prayer, as if the earth had shuddered.

One short pause and then: “I want that. I really want that. But my man would never let that shit fly.”

That moment confirmed for me that the patriarchy is still deeply ingrained—in all of us. Surnames are one of the unseen limbs of the old world. Giving a child the father’s last name is still a given. And that given preserves the man’s place of power, from the Supreme Court on down to the everyday Joe. How can that still be the case? Why, I wonder, are we so slow on this one? It seems lazy of us.

Many people are coming up with new brave options: blended last names, siblings with different last names, hyphens. But when a couple decides to use both names as a last name, usually the woman’s last name gets tucked between her child’s and husband’s, and usually that’s the one that falls away around school age. Very rarely is the man tucked away. How come? It makes me uncomfortable to even ask, because it sounds accusatory of anyone or, especially, the people I dearly love who lined it up like so. I don’t mean it like this. We all contend with this history together. I’m starting to think that queer couples with children will lead the way. They’ll demonstrate how non-gendered a last name choice can be.

When I told my most public feminist friend about our last name decision, she made a fair point.

“But that seems uneven,” she said, “to just have your name as the last name, and not include Chris’ name as part of that.”

It was uneven, but it had been uneven the other way for millennia (though matriarchal societies did exist once upon a time) and sometimes the pendulum has to swing wildly before it can even out. I would never advocate for all children having their mother’s last names. But imagine if 50% them did. Imagine the social impact on our collective unconscious. It would be a movement requiring no money, no lobbying, no elbow grease. It’s a choice anyone of any background can make—harder for some, I know. And our naming system would actually be diverse. No one gender would occupy it.

People might say these are small peanuts, but language is never small. Language shapes how we view things before we even know we are viewing them. How we name something determines how we value it. If women’s last names are consistently absent from history, never passed down, then where is their—our—value?

One windy April day, our daughter was born; or rather, I birthed her. Of course, Chris helped me. But my doula friend pointed out to me that we often say, “my child was born.” Birth deserves more than passive language because it is not a passive act. It deserves all the animal sounds that emerge from a woman when she has to open and push a baby into the world.

Four days later, we named her: Eula Kautz May.

Those who hadn’t heard about the last name started to comment. My sister-in-law emailed, “Wait, so Eula’s last name is your last name? Hmmm, I like that.” Even my tough-love uncle thought we’d knocked it out of the park. He wouldn’t tell me directly, but I heard it through the grapevine when he told his four daughters he hoped they’d consider the same thing one day.

Some people on our massive email list noticed the last name. Others didn’t. It’s the same today. Even if people know, they forget. More often than not, we get packages addressed to Eula May Kautz. I’m never offended, just reminded of how hard it is to pay attention to a shift.

Many months later, here’s the latest iteration on the theme. Strangers can’t stop commenting on how amazing Chris must be—to have, I guess, granted me the gift of using my last name for our daughter. I try to smile and say, “Yeah, he’s amazing, but not for that reason.” I want to say he’s amazing because his manhood is never threatened, because when he was a boy his family nicknamed him Sweeties, because he tests his own courage and failure in the mountains, because he is patient with me. He’s amazing because he holds his ground when he needs to, and I’m amazing too, and we can both be idiots to each other but never once was I worried that I would have to convince/beg/bypass him to give Eula my surname.

When friends whisper to me, “I’m a little jealous,” I realize that maybe it was never a conversation for them. Maybe they never got to ask their partner about it. Maybe they didn’t feel they could. Maybe he never thought to bring it up. Or maybe it never occurred to either of them.

My hope: I want a pro-choice situation for last names. Instead of a given, how about a conversation between parents? Maybe someone wants a cohesive family name; maybe someone wants to honor a great-grandmother or grandfather; maybe someone wants to shed a last name and join a new family; maybe someone wants to give their child four last names and let the child pick at 18 years old. I don’t know. Something. Anything. Just not a given.

I like to imagine a day when Eula is hanging upside down from a soccer goal with her friends. The air is crisp. The talk is spirited. Last names are varied. And each child can tell the story of why, but it also doesn’t matter as much because the pendulum has finally landed at center.

We aren’t sure if a second child is in our future. But she or he might be. When that time comes, we’ll sit back at the table, or on our futon, and start the conversation all over again. Because, if I am going to walk my talk, using my last name again won’t be a given.


Molly Caro May is a writer whose work explores body, place and the foreign. She teaches personal narrative writing workshops across the country, though once cut her teeth as a fruit-picker, artist's model and at a New York based publishing house. She has written for Orion Magazine, Salon, feministing, and Fourth Genre, among others. Her memoir The Map of Enough: One Woman's Search for Place (Counterpoint Press) was published in March and received the Elle Magazine Lettres Readers Prize. She lives near Bozeman, Montana with her husband and daughter.

Photo via JD Hancock/Flickr

148 Comments / Post A Comment


Thank you so much for writing this. I am in complete agreement with your views--especially the oddness of the unquestioning, "given" nature of the child inheriting the father's name, even if the mother opts to keep her own--but also appreciate how understanding you are of individual situations.


love love love it@v


Long-time Hairpin lurker, and now finally registered so that I could let you know just how much this resonated with me. My parents felt extremely strongly about the power of names, to the extent that not only did my mother keep her name, but that my brother and I have a different last name from either of our parents. It is still a family name - our maternal grandmother's maiden name - and I love having that part of my heritage front and center. But I definitely still get a lot of odd looks and comments when people meet my parents for the first time. Also, our middle names are our parents' hyphenated last names, but I stopped using it on official forms long ago.


@Cadillac oh my god, I love so so so so so much the giving of a grandmother's maiden name. perhaps my children will be -- Fultz. what if we all gave the grandmother's maiden names to our children? as proud as I am of family legacy, I am equal parts nervous of endogamous loyalties, and finding an old name, never given its due, seems a perfect way to combat that.


I had a lot of strong opinions about surnames that I only recently sorted out and this really strongly reinforced them!

I have a surname from a father who was never a father and I hate being tagged by a man's name that I didn't choose, who did nothing but hurt me, and have always thought I'd, for simplicity sake, take my partner's name when I married. That's becoming a bit more real as I get older and I felt like I was losing part of my identity, like I wanted to preserve that part of me and my family. I didn't feel like I could just change my name to something else without having to explain, millions of times, that my father was a deadbeat.

Long story short, a friend suggested taking my superstar mom's awesome surname as my middle name, which I will be doing. It's a small change -- but it helps me feel more like me -- and I am inclined to think every little bit helps. Taking mom's names, even if subtly, is the best. Go you!


@pterodactylish What a great idea!
I don't actually want to get married, but I ended up filling out the paperwork to legally change my last name to my mom's because I've always felt I should have just had her last name.

Unfortunately I never got to it because the paperwork was expensive and it turned out I'd have to do it in both countries of my citizenships (and I don't speak one of the languages, and it has to happen in court for that one), and I've just moved to a third country so for now it would just be too complicated.

But I may eventually get to it someday...

Jia Tolentino

Had to pop down here and note that for me one of the funniest, dumbest, and most consistent reactions to this highly reasonable point of view is when people are like "BUT WHERE DID THE **AUTHOR'S** NAME COME FROM? A MAN? HER FATHER? REALLY MAKES U THINK"

.... does it now


@Jia Tolentino Ha! Whenever people try that old canard, "why keep the name of a man you didn't choose instead of taking the name of a man you did choose," I yell "I CHOOSE ME!" But seriously, I do choose me! My last name is not just the name of my father and his father and so forth - it's one I happen to like, and it's one I've been living in for the past 26 years. It's mine now. They say when you give a gift, you no longer have any say over what happens to the gift - my name was a gift and I can do whatever I please with it.

Lucy Ellerton

I am 21 years old and have my mother's last name and I value it wholeheartedly. I have never really thought about what it must have been like for my parents but they made a special deal in their choice by flipping a very specific coin in a wonderful meaningful place for them. When/if I marry I am keeping my name because not only do I like it, it links back to both my grandmother and my mother who are and have been big parts of my life. I don't know about kids but I definitely want to consider it. In any way I will always stand by my right to choice and I hope that you and your child feel proud of making that choice. I am proud. I was never bullied once because of my last name. ever. I'm rambling and it's past 2am but this article made me tear up because I've always taken my last name for granted and never once thought of it in any strange or negative light and I'm sad that it's viewed that way sometimes and makes me so thankful that I have had wonderful family and wonderful friends and a wonderful community that helped bring that about. End rambling comment.

isabelle bleu

This is a great article, thank you so much for articulating this, i think that I want to print it out and carry it around as a pocket reference to hand to strangers so that I can save my breath.

A related aside: My most vivid memory of my time as a Girl Scout was a conversation that a group of us had in the lead-up to our pack leader's weeding. One of the girls asked if she would be changing her last name, and her answer was, "If you weren't going to change your name, why else would you get married?" No one had an answer back.


One of my best friends in high school had her mother's last name -- the deal in their family was that the boys got their father's last name and the girls got their mother's last name (luckily for them they had one of each...). It was really great and is something I've considered doing for my future children as well.


@Fredo When my wife was pregnant, I thought up this exact idea, and I was kind of in love with it. From a family tree perspective, I love that it gives both parents' family names the chance to continue on. Everyone I talked to about it thought this idea, and I, were crazy, and used the "confusing" excuse, i.e. that having kids with different last names would be confusing for them. Which is silly, since a) many families include people with different last names, and b) people generally aren't confused about who's in their family. We had a boy, and gave him my last name, with my wife's last name as a middle name... so we're still technically following this scheme? The test will be if we have another, and she's a girl.


@szajic We do this, so my daughter has my last name and my son has my husband's, and neither has the opposite-sex parent's name in their name. To be perfectly honest, when we settled on this idea it never occurred to me that it was possible I could actually have a male child (don't laugh, and if it had occurred to me to take biological realities into account, I think I would have held for all children having my last name). It's a very easy idea for kids to get--girls have one name, boys have another. My husband regularly takes our daughter to Canada and has never been hassled about her having a last name, although we were given some crap at his green card interview. And we have never had anyone in our personal lives--daycare, school, friends, pediatrician--even blink at our arrangement.


@Fredo Yes ... but why a daughter the mother's and a boy the father's? Sons are just as much their mothers', and daughters their fathers'.

Still nice. But it kind of segregates the names, and in a society where men still take priority, it just continues the problem.

mc coolfriend

On a kinda related note, I didn't know till having a child that you can name them whatever you want for a surname. I figured it was one of the parents by default. And I wish I'd had more time to be aware of this (bc literally, I didn't know till I was actually HAVING a baby) and I wondered if everyone else had already been knowing this, and why they didn't do it more often.


@mc coolfriend We named our daughter a completely different last name. (My husband & I were both planning on changing our last name to the same as our daughter's, but procrastinated until she was around a year old). There was ONE time, at the airport, that the security guy gave us shit about our daughter having a different last name. Bizarre.

Also, when you get a divorce, you can easily change your last name to whatever you want. ONLY IF YOU'RE A WOMAN, though. If you're a man, you have to go through the whole "legal name change" thing with taking out ads in the paper & stuff.


@mc coolfriend My close friend gave her daughter a different last name than herself (or her daughters father). Her reasoning was my friends' father (and family) had tried to convince her to have an abortion for most of her pregnancy so they didn't deserve her daughter having their name attached to her.

Amber Stewart@twitter

This article struck me as really interesting, as I have my mother's last name. My father was never in the picture, though, so he had no input into the decision. And really I never considered it weird, even as a child growing up. People do jump to a conclusion when they discover that the mother and child both have her maiden name, but man who straight gives a shit about what people think.

Lily Rowan

"What other kids will think" is the most ridiculous non-issue ever. I mean, have you seen families? They have all kinds of last names for all kinds of reasons!


@Lily Rowan It is insane to base important decisions on accommodating hypothetical bullies from the future.
Maybe your fellow parents shouldn't raise their kids to be assholes.


I can't believe so many people can't get over this! Great choice, and great name, although now I'm thinking end user licence agreement...


We gave our daughter my last name, and our son my husband's. When my daughter was born I had recently lost my brother, so I wanted to honor my small, close family by giving my daughter both my last name and my fierce grandmother's maiden name as her first name. My husband's paternal grandparents were very special to him, so we used his last name for our son. I got the "isn't that confusing?" question a lot. Answer: No, it isn't. The pediatrician, dentist, karate studio and public schools all dealt with it easily, people who rolled their eyes about it at first quickly got used to the idea, or even admitted that they thought it was kind of cool. My kids, now 19 and 22, were talking about this issue recently, and both said they liked how each of their names represented a connection to all sides of our family's past and the people who were important to us- and my daughter has always loved that she has my last name.

Jason Hader@facebook

My mom who named me Micheal (misspelled) Jason Hader, whose called me by Jason my whole life (because Micheal is my dad's name), thought that it would be confusing if I were to take my wife's last name, Henry, wholesale. I guess that was a knee-jerk reaction not contemplating the questions I already receive for not going by my first name, or for why my first name is misspelled. Not to mention that my last name is Hader, which sounds like "Hater" (which is so uncomfortable for people to say sometimes, that they purposely say Hadder thinking it must not be said the way it's spelled as that would be distasteful). I still haven't pulled the trigger on changing any of my names to make more sense, I guess because of these rules that such changes are indisputably offensive, but I want to. I really think kids ought to probably choose their names at a certain age. We create our lives. It a parent's arrogance that thinks otherwise.


Your kids friends are the FIRST people who are going to be okay with this, because they won't have preconceived notions of how things are done or why. They won't be teased for it. I've been so surprised at the number of my friends who as they've had kids have ended up changing their names or their kids names or everyone's names just because "how else will the kids know who their family is?!" Kids know. I asked my mother why she had a different last name than me several times as a child, but I had no confusion at any point about whether or not she was really my mother.


I fail to see how it's anyone's business what you name your kid.


"when people asked if we’d chosen a first name, we shared our last name choice instead"

When people ask what you're naming the baby, the correct response is John or Amy or whatever. When you go out of your way to bring it up, as if you are unsure, as if you're justifying, you end up inviting opinion... whether you want it or not.

Our daughter has my last name. Apart from a private conversation between my husband and his mother, we refused to let it be a big deal... and it wasn't. If people ever made some comment, I'd reply "we're matrilineal." I didn't open the door to discussion, so most people kept their thoughts to themselves. Attitude is a lot of this.

My husband occasionally gets mail with my name, and I do get mail with his. My husband's grandmother sends me mail with "Mrs. Husband's-First Husband's-Last" on it! But hey, she's old and of another time. Our daughter sometimes gets mail with my husband's last name or both our names hyphenated too. But most people, and all official organizations, get it right.

With the current divorce rate and frequency of blended families, you wouldn't think anyone would be confused by people in a household with different last names.


@IvyD Truth, the author was totally being weird.


My first marriage, my husband & I combined our last names. I kept my last (maiden, which I had changed back to) name when I married my current husband, but when we had a kid, we all wanted the same last name. We each didn't particularly like the other's, heh, so we just picked a completely different one and had it legally changed. There was a period of time before we changed our name (we procrastinated) and our daughter had a totally different last name than us.

I have a weird history of changing my name, and so does my husband. I was born with a last name that was a shortened version of my bio dad's (very ethnic) name. Then, when I was 12, I changed it to my mom's maiden name (hated my last name that no one could pronounce). Then the combo of my husband & my last name. And now with the made up one. So I've had 4 last names.

My husband was born with his bio dad's last name. Then it was changed to his step dad's name when he was a baby. Then he changed it to a completely made up name in his 20s (didn't get along with his step dad and didn't want his name) and now he has the one he made up with me. So he's had 3 last names.

Weird, huh. The importance people put on names. I kind of think it's all bullshit. I like what we did with picking a new last name when we became a family.


There are 3 last names in my immediate family - my dad and I have the same last name, my mom has always kept her maiden name, and my brother and my stepdad have the same last name. From a very young age I was aware that this was not the norm, but it never bothered me. It did make things like official forms a little more confusing,and the post office kept a note behind our box that all three names were the same household, but I always kind of liked the variety.

I do think keeping either the mother or father's last name is important, from a heritage standpoint, and to make a point to know more about the surnames in our families that aren't passed down on the paternal side. My father's last name is Irish, but he's half Irish and half Lithuanian, and you would never know that from his last name. Losing that sense of history I think would be losing out on a huge piece of yourself and where you come from.


I was given my mothers last name. In my family my parents decided that if I was a girl I got my moms last name and if I was a boy I would have had my fathers. Seemed and easy and fair way to decide for my parents. I hope that my children will have my last name though.


My sister just did this with her baby, but she's not married to the father. I've been planning on doing the exact same also. I love my unique last name and my husband (raised by his mom) doesn't care for his generic last name and actually PREFERS our future child have my name. I'm preparing to get some comments, but like you, I don't think I'd expect the response you got!

ETA- My current name is first name, mom's maiden name, dad's last name. The only reason I don't keep my mom's name in the mix is because it's too hard for most native English speakers to pronounce.


You're in for loads more mail and stuff sent to Eula May Krautz. Eula May sounds like a double first name, which I'm sure you're aware of.

I wonder if knowing that the surname is "May" had any influence on the reactions you got? I mean, folks probably don't think much of it when it's your name, because it's fait accompli, and that's just your name, but when you discuss it as a potentiality for a new baby, there's the reaction of "that doesn't sound right" and the explanation they come up with is the mom/dad name thing. (Maybe, maybe not. I mean, obv a large portion was just the mom/dad thing.)

Brenna O'Brien@facebook

When I got married, I kept my last name. For our first child, my son, we gave him my husband's last name. For our second child, my daughter, we gave her my last name. She's only two months old, and so far I've had to deal with several calls from people filling out insurance paperwork and other documents to doublecheck that I had filled it out right and that it wasn't a mistake. The tone of skepticism and amazement in their voice was something I wasn't expecting, but I suspect this is just the beginning of people being confused and puzzled by our choice. It makes perfect sense to us!


I have my mom's last name! I also honestly don't think I knew any of the other kids' parents' last names, or would have even known what that ~signified~ if I had? That sounds like an overly judgey adult issue, trying to pass it off on kids, tbh...


Gender politics aside, it actually makes more logical sense for a child to bear a woman's surname than a man's, since paternity can sometimes be in doubt, but maternity, never.

Pastor Linda Latasa@facebook

This issue is one I constantly debate about. Yes, women WERE property & men claimed ownership. It's not that way anymore. The woman is the one who goes through so much carrying that child. Then comes labor, which is , too painful to describe. Then the child gets the man's name. Also, if the parents divorce, the mother usually has the child live with her AND now they have 2 different last names.
I cannot understand why more women aren't questioning this.
And don't even get me started on the women who take their husband's name.

Marin Marie Lancaster@facebook

@Pastor Linda Latasa@facebook I took my husband's last name, and I don't regret it at all. I love my husband's family, and they have shown more love to me than any of my family. I feel more a part of his family than mine. I thought about keeping my name, but once I came to the realization that I have just stated, I decided that I am going to take his name. I think that women should think about it and make a conscious choice instead of just blindly doing it because society says that's what is normal. It's not always "Women should always take their husband's name," nor is it "Women should always keep their name."


@Pastor Linda Latasa@facebook I took my husband's name voluntarily, and we aren't having kids at all so I didn't need to. My dad died when I was very young and all my life I had his family name, which I don't actually care for. My mom remarried a few years later so most of my life she didn't share a name with me.

My husband's name is uncommon, ethnic, and often misspelled, but I like that it was chosen purposefully, unlike my maiden name, which is a relic of a man I don't remember. It has nothing to do with being his property and everything to do with sharing something that's important to him and my father-in-law. I'd keep it if we got divorced.

Miguel Hernandez@facebook

My last name is hypenated, though I only go my father's last name out of simplicity. As a kid, you don't really know what that means, so you just write down your very last name on your homework, and as you get older, it sticks. I had thought for a while of changing it to my mother's last name (which I use as my middle name), mainly because it was she who raised me. She was the one who believed in me and took care of me while my father was off with his other family. Interesting story about my first name though. My parents picked a name that had letters from both of their names (to symbolize that I was a product of both of them), with one letter not being from either of their names, U, to show that it was something of my own.

Olivia Lovis Wiklund@facebook

I live in Sweden were having your mothers last name is very common. Me and my older sister both have our mothers last name, USA is more conservative and religious whilst Sweden is not really any of that and I think that plays a big role. Nobody really cares whose last name you go for or if you are married ot not since marriage isn't such a big thing either. Out of curiosity I asked my boyfriend a while ago if we have children in the future, do you want them to have your last name? He said that since his last name is one that only his family in the entire Sweden has he wants that, but that we can put the last names together, so if we ever have children they will have 2 last names and so will both he and me if we get married. I am fine with that,otherwise they would have my last name.

Michelle A Turner@facebook

My son has my last name. My brother and sister do not plan on having children and I do not have cousins. I gave him my last name as a matter of preservation. There are some teachers who think he must be my brother's son and there are people who address my husband as Mr. "my last name". It never has bothered my husband.


When I got married I chose to keep my own last name. As my husband felt strongly about children having the same last name as their parents, he took mine.
It was a non-issue for us.
Of course my brother argued/ convinced his wife to take his last name. Sometimes its hard to believe I grew up with him.

Penny Lane@facebook

In México and in Spain we have bouth last names,but anyway the Mother is at the end lost. I already have think about this and talk about it with my mom, and we should be able to do what ever we feel in putting our kids name.


Interesting article. My name is Ben Rodriguez. I met my best friend, Stephanie Cox, in high school. We had been friends for a little over a year when we got engaged. After a 4-1/2 year engagement, while preparing for the wedding, she said she was going to get the documents she needed for her name-change. I let her know that I would prefer to keep referring to my best friend by the name that I had been using for the past 5-1/2 years. We talked for awhile, and she agreed to remain Stephanie Cox. Twelve years later, we had our only child, and again, we discussed the name together, and her first name is one that we had talked about back in high school, but her last name took more discussion. Rodriguez-Cox sounds weird, and this girl is going to be my wife's parent's only grandchild, so her last name first made much more sense. Now, for the middle name: Both of my parents had passed away 15 years before our daughter was born. My dad's name was Ray, and my mom's name was Anne, thus my wife gave birth to Serengeti Rayne Cox-Rodriguez. We are all happy with the name. I think the two-way discussions along the way helped.


So...you decided to give the child your last name which I assume would be your father's last name? Unless you're giving the child your great great grandmother's maiden name, I'm losing the point, other than to stick it to the man, which happens to be the husband who loves you and married you. If you were from Iceland I'd understand, but it seems you're breaking from convention to be different.

vine fruit

@Jokerswild It's too bad she picked a thing her husband supports to "stick it to him" with, seems like if that's her aim she could really find a better way to "be different." A+ opinion Jokerswild, would read again!

Caroline Varney Cook@facebook

I just think is ima little silly. I don't think we need a movement over which last name a baby gets. As a gay woman who took my wife's last name, I guess I just don't understand the fatalistic nature of this article. Maybe this is more of an issue than I realize, but who freaking cares what last name her kid gets? Does it have a legal last name? Good. The world at large is utterly uneffected by your decision. Congrats on "birthing" a human being.

Shea Silver

@Caroline Varney Cook@facebook you sound like an awful person. Not like overtly awful, just one of those negative people who slowly sucks the life out of your friends with your comments like "congrats on 'birthing' and human being". You are someone who doesnt understand or see the magic and majesty all around them. People are friends with you for like three years and then they realize that your attitude and worldview is totally bringing them down. They back away slowly, drop off, disappear. You are the bland pasta at Chili's. Your order it, eat it - its OK, no flavor- then you remind yourself, dont order pasta at places like this! Im sure nothing really matters to you except your cats and gay rights.


I'm the last in my line and female, so it's actually been important to me to hold onto my name (I hate feeling like everyone is mildly disappointed I'm not male to carry on the name). It's actually on my list of criteria while dating to find a partner open minded enough to talk through how to keep my name going. Thanks for paving things and taking a stand! BTW, your daughter's name is beautiful.


I am 32, with a hyphenated last name -- mother's first, hyphen, father's. For the record I was ALWAYS known in school with my mother's last name because it came first. During roll call, when seated alphabetically, locker assignments, even still when picking up tickets at will-call, they always list my last name under the letter of the first half. (First letter of my first last name is in the first half of the alphabet, first letter of second last name is second half of the alphabet.)

Also, since this seems the perfect place to say it: I wish they had given me ONE last name. Having two has been such a confusing hassle for any institution I've ever come across. When I complained to my mother about it in college she told me to "just pick one" which is bullshit, cause how can I ? It's like playing favorites. I wish they had chosen for me. Just don't do hyphenation. Just pick one.


I feel very differently about this I guess, because my grandmother (on my mom's side) tried to force a name change on me after my dad died and she got a water bottle to the face for her efforts. So I am fiercely protective of my father's last name, because he left it to me and I'll be damned if someone tries to take it from me.

Then again, I'm was incredibly close to my father and if I ever do have children (highly unlikely that I will, but you never know), I want to be able to be able to give them what I was given and let them know why they should be damn proud to be who they are. I have purpose behind my name choice, not just doing it to be "different".

Marriah Carrasco@facebook

I LOVE how well this article is written! That being said, I gifted my son with my last name too! I didn't even think about what the "norm" was,the archaic systems behind it, nor for any feminist reason at all. It's just that I really cherish my last name. I love and value my family's name. I knew I wasn't going to change it when I married anyway, so when I became pregnant with my son I immediately knew it would have my last name! Well, another deciding factor for me was I AM the one that had to give birth, if men could give birth I would let him name the kid whatever he wanted, but since it's still just women, I get to decide! There was no way that I was going to allow my wonderful last name, with such a rich history behind it, to fall by the wayside because of a man. I have never regretted it and NO ONE on either sides of the family has made any comment about it. I am very grateful for that to this day. They all respected the fact that it was MY baby therefore, MY choice to name him whatever I wanted. :)


We gave our daughters Molly and Kate their mother's last name.

My idea. Jennifer Leonard quickly embraced the idea, but not my proposal that our first daughter (who looks a lot like her) be named Jennifer Leonard Jr.

The reactions Molly Caro May reports above surprise me. In 1985 when Molly was born in Los Angeles I did not experience anything like that from male or female friends. The only reactions I recall when Molly Leonard was born were friends and colleagues at the LATimes (me) or the California Community Foundation (Jenn) asking whose idea it was or inquiring about the reasons we made that decision and one person who asked if it was legal. Among those who expressed the view that our choice was unusual, I don't recall anyone reacting in a way suggesting they thought it strange, just unusual.

My in-laws -- an educated and VERY conservative couple who were both in their 70s when the girls were born -- loved it, especially my father-in-law.

We had friends who merged their names, an idea that would not work with our names, but one I find appealing to this day.

As Kate wrote in a Facebook commentary on this piece, many of her schoolmates addressed me as Mr. Leonard even after hearing my name. Some others assumed I was her stepfather, as did some parents. Minor stuff.

I do have a vague recollection of being asked once or twice whether I had permission to take some action for Molly or Kate (medical care, dropping them at CTY, a summer academic camp), but that evaporated as soon as I explained I was the biological father and we just gave the girls their mom's last name.

This tradition continues. Kate says she plans to have her children carry her last name. My oldest son's two sons also carry their mother's last name.

Parents should give their children whatever name pleases them.

What matters is making sure those children feel loved so they can grow up to independent, happy and eager to develop their abilities -- and their humanity. Parents should build their relationship and work hard to avoid divorce -- it's really bad for kids. Invest in your relationship with one another so your bond gets stronger and more valuable. Then when all the stress of parenting, money, illness, career woes or whatever else tears at either or both of you, your love will endure, your kids will turn out fine no matter what and you'll be happier, too. Best way to achieve that – choose to spend your life with someone who shares your values whatever they may be.


A bit more needs to be said regarding why children inherited their father's family name in the past. I don't think it was all the result of a patriarchal mandate. There are of course all the antiquated reasons like the woman belongs to the man and his family/lineage upon marriage for all practical purposes. The initiation of this tradition could have been eagerly supported and even presented by mothers. It might have even existed before possesion came ito the mix. It could have been a sign of sharing and love before it became adulterated. There was a valid reason back in the days of old for the mother to want the child to take on the man's family name...to give the man an obligation to the care of the child. The mother could hardly deny her maternity, but without the father's surname his obligation was socially deniable. It also instilled pride in the child's upbringing...the father's name is on that child and as such is an extention of himself. I mean, how many times have we seen men in history name something they're proud of after themselves? It's much clearer when you are the fortunate being who birthed a child to feel as though that child is an extension of yourself. I'm not trying to make the point that makes men are scum and would desert a child without any formal obligations, but it was an effective way for society to define a family and to give fathers a clear and lasting connection (and responsibility) to a child.

All that being said, the history of my last name is unique and confusing...and I love it and hate it. My last name is hyphenated, and not in the "well I have two names, but I go by one" kind of hyphenated. My last name is strongly hyphenated. Five generations ago, my ancestors combined their last names. The woman's family had a much higher social standing than the man's family and so to both set themselves apart from others with his common last name and to elevate their standing as a couple they combined their last names and it has been like that since. My poor mother loved the idea of incorporating her last name when she got married before meeting my dad, but due to the history and my father being the last man in the line they kept the unaltered name alive.

I love one of the earlier comments about a last name being a gift and that it becomes fully yours rather than just an extention of someone else. Women are in a glorious and new situation where we don't get married just after puberty and adopt our husband's name as we are still discovering who we are. We are becoming who we are AND THEN getting married. It's a whole new play in the ball game.

What would I do? Well, it would be weird to one day not have the history - and the constant confusion - tailing me wherever I go. It would be weird one day to change what I call myself and to, in a way, present a different identity to the world. It would be weird, but it's a thing to take as it comes. Although, on a less serious note, I've definitely met some guys with last names that would be SO cool if combined with mine, I might just marry for a good name ;)


I know that this isn't the point AT ALL but Eula was the name of one of my favorite family members and I love it!


I never comment but had to for this. I am pregnant with my second, and the plan from the beginning was to give the first kid my last name if a boy (my family has no boys) and his if a girl (his family has no girls). Second kid gets the other parents last name. So we had a girl, and now this one (also a girl) will have my last name. Reactions have been SHOCKINGLY negative: 'but then you guys will end up on teams based on last name,' 'are you sure that's legal?' to the sarcastic 'good luck.' The only people unfazed are the women I knit with, bless them.


@Keylimegirl ....teams?

Nasim Mv@facebook

This is common and not at all strange in Quebec. Many kids have hyphened last names and some have their mothers. I guess it partially comes from the rule that you are no longer able to change your last name when you marry. And many couples don't marry. Common-law is also very common. I gave my kids my husband's name and got some opposite reactions! Some people asked me why I didn't hyphen! But it was entirely my choice and my husband would have never protested if my choice would have been different. The quiet revolution really changed a lot of things here when people broke away from the church.

Kate Beauchamp@facebook

Very thoughtful article about an issue that many folks just don't even consider.


I love this! It makes no sense to use the father's name for all the children. I think half with one name and half with the other would be perfect. :-)
I'm reminded of how offended my fiance became when I mentioned that I'd keep my own name when (if) we marry. :-/

Rainy Day Thoughts

To those of you saying that a woman's surname is really her father's, where does a man gets his surname? Think about why you see the writer's name as her father's but her husband's name as his own.

julesSE, that's a lovely thought, but the actual historical reason children in English common law countries get the father's last name is because Henry VIII made it a law that a child must have the father's surname to inherit. That law is long gone, but its effects live on.

Bev Hernandez@facebook

Sooo not only did my (at-the-time) husband and I give our son and daughter his last name, we also gave them both his first name. He is Emmanuel (LastName). They're Emmanuel Jeremiah and Emma Joice. Even though he ran off with a youngster who had just graduated high school when the kids were 3 years and 4 months...I have no regrets. I never changed my last name while we were married because I was attached to mine. I'm a daddy's girl and having his last name was a source of pride for me. However, when I remarry, I will gladly take my new husband's last name. We are one and he is the head of our home. He is our provider and protection. I am his and he is mine. Why wouldn't I be proud to take his name as my own?


This is really sad. In a day and age where same-sex couples can have families and single parents are all over the place, why does it matter whose last name goes to the child? My partner absolutely hates his last name and has always wished he could change it. His father agrees it's a terrible name and has no attachment to it. Both his sisters changed their last names when they got married, not out of tradition but just to get rid of the family name. Yet if he has children, he's supposed to pass on a name that he despises and that they will probably hate too?


I just read your article and it made me kind of sad. I have my mother's last name, as does my sister. I would have never even guessed that this was a big deal or even a threat to people. My mother and father chose this together, simply because my mother's last name sounded better than my father's. And I have always thought that I will do exactly the same if I marry and have children. This article actually shocked me because I had never thought that this wasn't the normal way to pick a last name. I think it should be, actually. Thank you for writing this article and showing that this actually is an issue, but that it doesn't have to be!
(I am from Germany though, I never put much thought into how last names work in other countries...)


As a male Courtney, I appreciate the weight of a name on quality of life. It is formative. If you have a baby person queued up for a stupid name, forename or surname, you should consider all other options.
There ought to be an algorithm developed where you can plug in both surnames and it will tell you in plain, objective terms which is the prettiest name. It could work for the whole name too, and it could work like those password strength testers. We need a machine to tell people their name ideas are stupid because other people are unreliable for clean feedback.
If we wanted to be purely neutral about this, no patriarchy, no matriarchy, total disavowal of ownership, would it be best to turn over naming to a random name generator? Wouldn’t that give a new person the greatest possible shot at individual identity? I guess this clashes with the importance of history and gives the lineage preservation lady heartburn. Family trees are novelties. Genetic plinko games. I made one back 9 generations and now I’m like, what’d I do this for?
If any of this seems like a gross attitude, OK. It’s mine, and I’m a man named Courtney, and I don’t care what my name is now, but I worried about it more when I was a little boy, before every roll call.

Kimberly Ann Southwick@facebook

Thanks so much for this. Whenever unmarried couples I know have had children, I've always asked what the child's last name was going to be-- regardless of if the couple was together or not, I found it strange that the answer most often given was the man's last name. It just felt WRONG to me, and it took me a really long time to figure out why.

When I got engaged, my husband knew I didn't want to change my last name. We had a conversation about it, though, and he asked me if I could consider hyphenating. I agreed. I knew it would make me happy, and he was fine with me still "publicly" using my maiden name, though legally my last name is hyphenated. I am glad you address the idea of the hyphenated child's last name in the piece-- saying that the first half of it tends to get discarded when children reach the school age. My husband and I have agreed to hyphenate our kids' last names, and I will let it be their decision in the future what they want to go by-- though legally, it will be the hyphenated version. I know I, too, will catch hell for this, but I'm ready.

Anyway, I think this piece is brave, important, and well written. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, and I hope that your bravery in the face of the unrelenting patriarchy helps others to realize how it still has such a hold on so many ways of life-- and for others who want to make similar decision to be brave and stand up themselves against what's considered "right" that really is just "how it's 'always' been", rather.


I had a very specific and negative experience with the naming your kid thing that was almost exactly the opposite of the author's.

My daughter was quite the surprise and her dad and I were not yet married. We had a long discussion about what to do regarding last names. Since both of our last names were absolutely awful to spell we knew right away we weren't going to go with a hyphenated name. We then spent some time comparing the worst things that had ever happened to us due to our last name. He had some problems with mail delivery and a one time issue with his bank. I had nearly lost college housing because a capital I and a lowercase L look very similar when typed in certain fonts and when handwritten. So we went with his last name for our daughter and when we eventually got married I changed my last name to his because I liked us all having the same family name.

I received so many negative, hurtful comments from "friends" who were distressed at my perceived caving to the patriarchy. One friend still sends letters using my maiden last name. Another friend sent me a link to an article about how it was anti-feminist to take you husband's last name the day before my wedding.

I guess my point is that I really appreciate that the tone of this article is one of "have that discussion and do what's right for you" rather than "here's the *feminist* way to do things."


@Don'tcallmeJenny As well as being extremely unkind, it sounds like your friends have got the wrong end of the stick. The *feminist* way to do things is to choose your own way and resist having stuff foisted upon you. There's absolutely no point in fighting the patriarchy only to install your very own dictatorial regime which seems to be based on, er, telling women what to think and do. Talk about missing the point... :-)

I'm a housewife (as well as a feminist) because it works for me and my partner.


@Punctured: I absolutely agree. This was more than one friend however. I have had several either in either subtle ways (eg just happening to send me a link to an article about women taking their husband's last names) and not so subtle (eg telling me outright that they "expected better from me" when they learned we were giving my daughter my husband's last name).

I think the author of this piece would agree with your (and my own) belief that feminism is about choices and that's why I really appreciated an article that explicitly talked about choice being the most essential part of the equation rather than being all about smugly congratulating herself on being "better" than others.


@Don'tcallmeJenny Sure, it never helps when people who don't really get the concept, somehow (possibly as a reflection of general ignorance on the subject) become mouthpieces for it, acquire followers, etc. Generally I find the atmosphere supportive and relaxed here, which is good because I would give myself a stroke wading through vitriol and judgement otherwise.

There is that awful Tumblr where young women hold signs saying they don't need feminism because 'I don't hate men' or 'I don't want an undeserved pay rise based on my gender.' Whaat? Who is it doing such great pr for this weird non-feminism that they're getting their message out better than actual feminism is?

It reminds me of the Steve Martin thing about raising your kid to talk wrong (may I mambo dogface to the banana patch etc). That is some weird-ass feminism folk are learning. Or maybe it is just your common or garden variety of internalised misogyny which I guess we all have to admit to on some level.

The concept of sisterhood is now regarded with cynicism but we could all use a great deal more cordial regard and a lot less judgement from each other. And actually that goes for everyone (not women in particular), because this fucking terrifying panopticon we live in is an excellent weapon of the patriarchy.


I was born as a third child and second son of two very open-minded, maybe a bit too, loving parents. we were brought up to look at the world a new, and make our own decisions. It didn't matter if we would turn up straight, gay, came home with a different ethnicity or became a monk.

My brother was the rebel and my sister the genius, and I could do what ever I want because we were children. At this point I should mention I am Dutch and we have specific laws to names, or better yet a free-for-all. When my sister got married, as in all good traditions because she was three months pregnant, my parents were surprised. not because my brother-in-law was black or something like that, no because they wanted to get married. my sister took her husbands name and this was all very normal, even though my mum rolled her eyes when they were announced as the new mr and mrs. After the wedding my girlfriend and I started talking about if, when and how we might get married. it was decided there and then we would combine our named into one new last name, both honoring her fathers family whom had to flee from there home of Indonesia after the independence in the 50's and 60's. hers first mine second,it even had an almost regal sound to it. and like I said when you get married in the netherlands you can do what ever you want with your surname. so fastforward 5 years. We decided to get married, no baby on the way, first for everything. then we announced our merger of names, as if we decided to slaugther a baby for christmas, the crap we got. my oh so liberal mother was angry that my children would not have her (married) name, my father was insulted, something to do with me no longer being part of the rest. My aunt, whom I do not even like, whom also married a catholic, something my gran did not like, said it was ridiculous and said it was a lie. wtf. The only supportive one was my soon to be mother-in-law. We've gotten married almost a year ago and our grandparents gave us a new registry, so we could officially start our new familytree, not a new branch but a new tree. They all thought is was fantastic, the two youngest creating something new and all their last names would continue. If the time comes and your kid wants to do something new, let them. Support them. Because for a while we stopped talking to our families for a month and the only one we talked to was my MIL. Be like her support your child. And like you said if they have to tease her because she has your last name, it means your daughter is to awesome.

Noellia Scarone@facebook

In the Hispanic tradition, the mother's name goes last. It's just the way the western world rolls these days. Feminist or not if you really want your surname to be at the end of the name just have the baby in a Spanish speaking country.
All this drama.


To drive home the point, why doesn't the writer change her last name to her mother's maiden name?


I love that you went with your last name for the baby. I've honestly thought that would be something I'd like to do, as well. Somehow, it's really great to find out about someone else who actually did it. I can understand the response, but I'm glad you didn't let it change your decision. :)

Katherine Chant@facebook

my friend has two children-one has his last name, one hers. seems fair to me.


I wish I had been as insightful as you when my daughter was born. While I could say that her dad was too "alpha male" & pig headishly stubborn to go along with giving her my last name, & while that is certainly true, I don't think I even considered it because...well, because the child usually always takes the dad's last name, even if mom & dad aren't married, as was our case. We ended up breaking up when she was six months old. A month later, I met the love of my life & her dad all but disappeared from her life. Sees her only when it's convenient for him & forget about child support. The love of my life, on the other hand, has been more of a father to her since the day I felt comfortable inteoducing him to her.
We are married now & while I kept my maiden name (maiden, ha!) I have always lamented the fact that she will have a different last name than her future siblings & a name different from the man who has been her father since she waa 9 months old. However, this article made me realize, for the first time, that she should have MY last name. After all, I carried her, I birthed her, I nourished her, I got up nights with her, I took her to all her doctor's appointments, I care for her when she's sick, I miss work when she's sick, I taught her her letters & numbers, I potty trained her, & I will be the one to continue to do all these things & more throughout her life. And while my husband loves her, provides for her, & has his own special relationship with her, I am still the one that does all these things, most of the time. I suspect it is this way in most families.
So kudos to you. I think you might be on to something here.
Does anyone know how one goes about changing a child's surname? And if you need the child's biological father's permission to do so (I'm sure I'll never get that)?


Glad this was written! I DO understand a kid having the father's last name as a way of saying "Here, I had this baby, and this person is responsible too" but that doesn't seem like a good enough reason because that acknowledgement becomes much less relevant after the pregnancy and birth – when the name is actually applied. I like the author's idea that there isn't one best method, and that it would be better to just even see many more instances of deviating from the father's-surname-norm than just a change over to one of either mother's-surname or blending or hyphenating.

Angelique N. Zobitz@facebook

Great article. I recall when my husband and I first got engaged he proactively introducing the topic of him taking MY last name. It was such an amazing moment that lead to a big conversation. In the end, my last name didn't define much about me and I being one of 12 (and he being the only child of an only child) I chose to take his because it worked for me. Kudos to your family for finding the way that best works for you all.

Erin Rausch

I got married a year ago. A bit before the wedding I asked what we wanted to do about names. After a brief pause he said, "I'll take yours." As we got closer and closer to the wedding date, I confirmed that he was sure about this. He always affirmed the choice. We didn't discover how unusual it was until he went through the process of changing everything. Now that we have been married for over a year, we still correct people. He never looked back... and it never ceases to amaze me that it all began with me simply asking the question.

Street Tuff

@Erin Rausch yeeahh! Hi-five to your husband. A male friend of mine also took his wife's last name when they married, because she already had a child with her last name, and because her last name was way better, and because he's cool like that.

I've always thought that either for having a child or getting married, it should just be a great opportunity to honor the wonderful family names and shed the embarrassing ones, like if you last name is "Dick" or "Goodhead" or "Bogey." *Power to you if you have one of those last names and love it!


@Street Tuff Not a word of a lie, I know someone whose husband's name is pronounced Bogey. She told me that she and their kids would use her surname.

Paul Smith

Power to you for doing this !

We sort of did this for our two children, both girls. My wife is not US born and English is her second language. We've raised the children such that they both have had exposure to both American and Chinese cultures and can speak both languages to at least some extent.

We've also given them names in each language. When speaking english, we use their english first name and my last name. Their English middle name is their Chinese first name. When speaking Chinese, we use my wife's family name and their Chinese first names.


I liked this article, and I mostly agree with what you're saying, but I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you on this bit.

>One short pause and then: “I want that. I really want that. But my man would never let that shit fly.”

>That moment confirmed for me that the patriarchy is still deeply ingrained—in all of us.

I see your point, but when she says her man wouldn't want that, it's not necessarily patriarchy being ingrained too deeply in her. When you enter a marriage you're entering a mutual relationship. You know this, I know this, everyone who has a brain knows that a healthy marriage (any relationship really) is a two way street. That means that it's not a matter of the "domineering guy saying no to the subordinate housewife" like you make it out to be. Rather, it's one party of an equal relationship not agreeing with the other party in a matter that really needs a consensus. If both husband and wife don't agree on something this big, then that needs to be worked out.

If the guy disagrees with the gal, he's got just as valid of an opinion as she does.

That being said, the way that she phrased it ("never let it fly") certainly does imply that is more of a patriarchy issue.

I don't know, am I out of line here? This article came off a bit strong to me.


I changed my surname to my mothers maiden name same time she did, after my parents divorced, feeling more related to her than my dad. Weird how life turns out though. Mum pretty much has walked completely out of my adult life, we occasionally exchange friendly emails.. but since i found "my guy" and am making my own choices she does not want much to do with me. I have since had a son. My dad is suddenly back in my life and keen to be a part of my sons life, has been and he continues to be far more supportive than my mother. I am wary of him, and how he treated us as kids, but you can't hold onto that.. and let it affect your future lives. Esp if they acknowledged and asked for a fresh start! I still don't regret changing my name. But my family feels so messy to give the surname to them... my partners family (i won't marry... but I will commit) are close, supportive and a quite "mad" they 'feel' like a family... mine just feels broken. I just cannot bring myself to give my surname to my kids. Its feel heavy with baggage... is that solely my perception? My question is, would this be baggage for my kids? If i was to have a daughter, i could give her my surname? Would this be weird for her or just a name? I do like the boy gets dads surname and girl gets mums tradition. Feels balanced.


Thank you. :) language *does* matter and so do names.

Melinda Critzer@facebook

When I was a little girl, I have a distinct memory of my father sitting my two brothers down and telling them how important they were because they would carry on our family name. I remember feeling left out and disappointed because I liked our family name and I wanted to be part of that legacy. Only as I've gotten older has it occurred to me that I could keep my name and conceivably pass it on to my children one day. Glad to know someone out there is doing it and not just to draw attention to themselves. Thanks for the article.


I have my mom's last name. My parents agreed before they had kids that any boys would have my dad's name, any girls would have my mom's name. Simple. It's never seemed to threaten or bother anyone. And as for getting teased on the playground, the only thing that's ever been a little bit irritating about it is that kids would sometimes get confused that I didn't have the same last name as my brother and I would have to explain again. Tiresome, but nothing to get worried about. I'm 25, so this was in the 90s, presumably it would be even more common now. The worst my family has ever had to worry about is the minor confusion on legal documents. And crossing the border was sometimes stressful, because my father would worry that if we were crossing without my mother, the customs officers wouldn't believe he was actually my father and assume he was kidnapping me. It never happened, he just worried about it. I'm surprised to hear about all this gossip you've had to deal with, because it's never been the case in my family.

bear surprise

I loved this. I think about this topic a lot because my last name was actually my great-grandmother's maiden name. She came to the US from Ireland and gave birth to my grandfather shortly thereafter- the details of her relationship with my great grandfather remains unclear but she was a tough lady who had no problem or shame with being a single mother and passing her name to her son. From there it went from my grandfather to my father, and my father to me, but I always have enjoyed the matrilineal turn it took way back when. I am the only person in my family who is young enough to pass it on, but my name is long/hard to say and a nightmare to spell, and my boyfriend also has a complicated eastern european name and is the only person to keep it going (unless his little sister decided to someday!) We talk about it here and there, and are years away from kids, but I love that he is open to a world of ways to pass along our names. Thanks for the food for thought!

Filomena Laforgia@facebook

Been there done that 11 years ago... My son has my last name. And outside of an occasional affirmation that he's my hubby's biological son, no problem... Oh, and I also kept my maiden name almost 20 years ago... I'm before my time, I guess.


All I have to say is: wow. Why oh why would you do this? You obviously feel very passionately about your decision, and it is YOUR decision, don't get me wrong here. But if you feel so passionate about it, why wouldn't you be considerate of other's, namely. Your husbands? The name is like a team name. It's like, I'm a part of my family's team. It doesn't sound so convincing their team name is different from mine, though...If you REALLY didn't want to have your husband's last name, then maybe he wasn't right for you. If you wanted to carry on your own name, adopt a kid, seed donors are also available. But there's cultural tendencies, it's what makes home feel like home. And when you lose those little things in life that define where you live, you end up losing, not only what you love, but that sense of what "just feels right". When you start screwing around with that, you ruin it for everyone around you, too. Stop being so selfish, for real. It's annoying. One day I'm going to meet a mother with the same stupid agenda and when the kid tells me his first and last name and it doesn't match up with the two parents', I'm instantly going to think "Oh, so you're that mom who got knocked up, gave this kid a shitty life, and couldn't stick it out with that asshole probably still doing the same stupid routine. Here's the new, Respectable Father coming in to save this poor kid and slutty mom." And I, of course, give props to the kid for keeping that random guy's name, respecting his biological Dad when he doesn't even deserve it. WHEN IN ACTUALITY, you're just a woman's liberal who decided that her husband's name wasn't sufficient. Sorry dude, but your kid doesn't have your last name, is it even yours? How can I be sure? Your wife didn't let you carry on your name with your kid? Alright, let's go look for your man card because you obviously just lost it. You know, it's also cultural that the woman gets to decide the first name, as well. So now you're naming all of your kid, even though you want your man to take care of 50%, you're calling dibs on his name. WHICH, in most people's minds, is very important and is a representation of who that kid is! My mother gave me a pretty crappy first name, that's why I go by my Father's last name. Not gonna lie, if I hadn't gotten my father's last name, we probably wouldn't have bonded that much... at all. However, it DOES make it that much easier for your husband to leave you, if that's what you want. "Don't leave me daddy!" "You don't even belong to me... Your mother must have had you with a cousin or something because you're not even on my team." I mean, I would love to not have any gender rolls in the world at all. Do you know how much money I would save by not buying my GF's dinner all the time? By not always taking MY car because she doesn't want to buy gas. By not having to be the responsible one in buying gifts for fights? How much I'd love it if girls wouldn't feel obligated to tell me how to dress because I'm "not a girl and I don't know what girls like". How, if I ever were to have a wedding, I'd get some say how it plays out. But no... it's always "Well you weren't dreaming about your wedding day since you could talk". I'd love to punch a girl right in the face when she's asking for it and other dudes be like "YAY! Bar fight!" Not "Are you not respecting her? She's a girl! Don't treat women that way!" But hey, maybe we aren't far from that because women really want equal rolls. And I think it's hilarious. But this, this is just crossing the line. - Dude rights activist. Because it's our right.


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Jéssica Bento@facebook

I dont think its NOBODY business what is your child last name, seriouslly, here in Brazil,its NORMAL the child to have both Mother AND father last name, Mother come first and father is the last, i think that we have a law for that, its like a rule or something, as same as when a woman got married she can keep her parents name or having just her husbands but IS NORMAL for the woman to keep BOTH,so, if the Mother have the fathers name, the child always have the Mother AND Father name, well i think is jus a Phonetic thing, this "family history" no longer exist in here, I use My Grandmother last name "Bento" - it was her father's- but I dont really have this name, cuz my mother took it off when she got married with my father...i use the one i like it better, and im sure Eula will use whatever she likes the most!


Just wanted to comment down here about an experience I had. Nowhere near where I'd consider marrying any time soon, but I do remember that my very best friend in elementary school and I had a discussion about this once. People used to joke that we would grow up and get married because we were so close, so we used to talk about the possibilities sometimes. And I distinctly remember us talking about last names, because I didn't like the idea of changing my last name and taking his. I don't think the discussion lasted very long, because we were young and we were almost to the playground for recess, but I do remember that we had agreed on him taking on my last name instead, and that we'd be different from everyone else. Just a cool story that I remembered after reading this article!

Monica Marlowe@facebook

We had this same discussion but for opposite reasons. My husband is the last male of his family name. It's a common heard name, but it really isn't all that common in actual practice. I'm from a huge Catholic family and there were plenty of male cousins to carry on that name. It was important for us as a couple that our share surname did not fade into obscurity. I am always happy though when couples enter into a union with open hearts and dialogue about things that are important to them. Thank you for sharing your story.


How odd that so much hoopla was created because you were going to give your child the maternal last name. In Mexico, the child takes on the paternal and maternal last name. Always knowing that the last name IS the maternal name and the 2nd to last is the paternal name. Also, I've had students who have hyphenated last names. People are so odd sometimes.


Great essay! Balanced and funny and insightful. As another commenter said: Go you! What frustrates me most about the last name situation is to see the mom's last name as a second middle name. It just seems to say: "I tried..." (feminine shrug). I say ditch the mom's name entirely, or use it as the real last name, or hyphenate, or make a new name.

Steven Glickman@facebook

Social norms and conventions, that often seem so immutable, are often much more fluid than people realize. "Permanent" last names are a relatively modern invention. Think about how the British Royal family only recently adopted a last name to meet their very new need to have a conventional last name.

In Judaism, boys would get their first name and then be referred to as son of (father's first name) e.g. David ben Solomon. Girls would be given their first name and then be referred to as daughter of (mother's first name). So girls and boys would have different "last names." Only recently have more liberal Jews have taken a name that includes their mother and father's names e.g. David ben Solomon v'Leah (and Leah).

Personally, my children have my last name. The mother's legitimate parenthood is a given. The child getting the father's last name makes it clear who is considered the other legitimate parent. Considering that I've been on the hook for paying child support since my divorce, it was clearly important to someone that I was held responsible for financially supporting my kids. As long as parents get divorced and the default is that the mother gets custody of the kids, and the father pays support, kids are going to keep getting their father's last name. But this convention, like all conventions is likely to change in the future, maybe even the near future.

Aside from issues of equality between the sexes is the issue of equality regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The very definition of a family is rapidly evolving. If you have two fathers, the kids are likely to get the father's last name. Then the question might become "which father?"


How odd that so much hoopla was created because you were going to give your child the maternal last name. In Mexico, the child takes on the paternal and maternal last name. Always knowing that the last name IS the maternal name and the 2nd to last is the paternal name. Also, I've had students who have hyphenated last names. People are so odd sometimes.


My daughter & son have different last names - daughter has mom's, son has dad's.
The school does not even blink with families with multiple last names. A non-issue. Maybe it's because my geographic area has such a diverse cultural population, but many of the students have names different from their parents. The only problem I have is when some of the kids call me Mrs. MySonsLastName because I'm so used to My Name that it doesn't register.
Though personally I haven't had problems, I can't fault the women who want to but acquiesce to external pressures - even Hillary added Clinton back to her name.


I didn't know my dad as a youth, so, in 3rd grade I asked myself why I wasn't using my mom's name. I started using her last name, but, since I didn't tell anyone, my mom got a call from the principal asking what was up. She laughed and told me to stick with the name on my birth certificate. Skipping ahead a couple decades, I suggested to my girlfriend that we give the child her last name. She gave me the same answer as when I suggested, a couple years later during wedding preparation, that she keep her last name. No. Social conventions are hard to fight.


I have two children. The first has my husband's last name; the second has my last name. We've gotten a few surprised looks and I'm sure there have been more than a few conversations about it out of our earshot, but other than that it really hasn't been a problem. Some people might assume we're a blended family, but that doesn't bother me. The boys love having different last names and I love and appreciate that my husband is not easily emasculated.

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Kate LaChapelle@facebook

I absolutely love this and go both of you for standing strong! My parents took each other's last names when they got married and hyphenated it and then gave it to me and it is simultaneously a curse and a blessing. A curse in that it is nearly impossible to find my records anywhere because I never know what they're filed under, but a blessing in that it allowed me to chose which name I wanted to go by. Through the majority of my K-12 education, I did go by my father's last name, it was the second in the hyphenate, but at about 16, I decided I liked my mom's name more and I've been going by it ever since. I think it's great that you did this and I do sincerely discourage double-barrelled last names, unless they're both super short. My full last name is 19 characters long, it's a nightmare.


I've been wondering about this for a while now. Whar sort of convention could we use to name children in the future? I'm sure I felt differently when I was a young man, but now approaching 50 I see no reason why it would ever have been a big deal what a child's name is in the 21st Century with accurate records keeping track of everyone's lineage. Interestingly enough I happen to have my Great-Grandmother's surname since we have no idea who my Grandfather's Father was. As I look back on my family tree, which my brother painstakingly pieced together before the age of the Internet, I see a lot of nameless women or women with only a first name. That branch stops dead making it impossible to trace. How could these people - any one of which if you removed them would make me a different or non-existent person - have been misplaced so carelessly? I'm the sum of all these people and interestingly enough identify culturally with my Scottish heritage when my surname is English. A surname is just that - a name and not who I actually am.

Zebulon Pike

This was really interesting to read. When my wife was first pregnant I told her I was OK with using either of our names because, I don't like hyphenated names. I find them impractical, eventually you have to drop something or your grandchildren end up with four last names. But even at that age I understood that I didn't want to impose my name on my wife.

The only thing that mattered to me was that my child's last name goes well with their first name. I guess growing up in Canada with the name Zebulon has given me a different perspective on names.


It seems to me that the author was the one who made the big deal out of giving her baby her last name. When asked what she was going to name the baby, why didn't she just say they didn't know instead of making a point to say the baby was going to take her last name? Nobody would have made a big fuss if the author hadn't made such a concerted effort to give them a reason to.


This is great! I have my mother's last name as my last name and my dad's as a second middle name. I have always been so proud of this part of my identity. I think it's really true what you said about language shaping our viewpoint without us even knowing--I have never questioned my commitment to feminism and I think it's because of my name, and I have always fully intended to pass this naming tradition on to my children, whenever that happens.


Thanks for putting this topic into the public forum! It's good to let folks know there are options worth discussing!
I had the amazing experience of marrying a guy who wanted to take my last name (almost 35 years ago now). I found out later that it wasn't just his progressive beliefs but that's another story. We had two wonderful children - a girl and then a boy and our family surname name was my last name. When we separated he went back to his "maiden" name but no argument concerning our children's names.
My next relationship was trickier. When I was expecting I worried about my children having different last names when I was the mom of all of them. After many conversations including a hyphen with my name last, circumstances intervened and I was able to give my third child my last name as well.
Since then, I've met couples who've chosen from many options including a couple who decided before babies that daughters would have her name and sons, his. When my first grandchild was due I had no expectations but when they decided on our maternal family name, I felt honored.
There has definitely been backlash over the years. My first husband's family wasn't happy at first, the third child's half-siblings harassed him for years to change his name, an aunt who does family geneology was horrified.
However, it was my third child who decided with his wife (who kept her name) to give our family name to their new baby. We'll see what my other grown children decide when the time comes.

Hedd Thomas@facebook

This topic could and would be viewed quite differently in different languages, countries and social groups. For example, most Afghans are mononymous (only one name), as are a number of royals, writers, philosophers, etc., in the west. Plato is an obvious example.

In my own home country of Wales, the ancient tradition was to simply give the child an epithet, i.e. a surname that was an attribute you'd hope s/he'd have, or to give it later in life when that attribute has arisen. There was a king named Selyf Sarffgadau, "Selyf the Battle-Serpent".

Otherwise sons would take the father's first name and daughters would take the mother's first name, preceded by the words "ap" (son) or "ferch" (daughter). So in the author's example here, Eula's name would be Eula ferch Molly (Eula daughter of Molly) and a future son (let's call him John) would be John ap Chris (John son of Chris). Nowadays a patrilineal surname is the most common, like the rest of the world, but these traditional forms and still used by some today.

Olivia Newman@facebook

Thank you so much for writing this article! I had the exac same feeling as you- that my child's last name should not be a given. And my husband agreed. So over margaritas one night, years before I was even pregnant, we decided to flip a coin, so that it would be a totally arbitrary decision. He won and I felt my heart sink because I knew that my child would probably never know that the decision had been a coin toss. We toasted and then my husband frowned and said "I can't do it. If we're not going to give our kid your last name and start setting an example that it shouldn't be a given, who will?" And so we went from coin toss to a politically driven decision. And we too weathered many negative responses, ESPECIALLY from our own mothers, but we both love our son's beautiful name- Malachi Jay Newman. Like you, I did not feel like it was "right" to give all children their mothers' names, I just don't understand how in this day and age it is still a given. And with each couple's own unique last name choice, whether blended, alternating or mother's, I think we are pushing that conversation into normalcy.

Larry Holderfield@facebook

Our daughter has my wife's name, our son has mine. We're hoping to establish a matrilineal and patrimonial line.

Ali Reilly

@Larry Holderfield@facebook This is the option that always made the most sense to me -- and it avoids over hyphenating over the generations!

Nan Jørgensen@facebook

I did this, too. Even though it was irksome that it was my father's name. However luckily my great grandfather took a pseudonym to escape from Bismarck and Germany, as a Dane — so it feels rebellious and fitting. My children are 27 and 19 and have "MY" last name. They like that a lot . A lot of people gave me flak — but I am a stubborn idealist type and I faced them off. Enjoyed that, actually, as part of the process. The right ones come around—and to the devil with the rest!

Simon Vella@facebook

This was a really well written article and I thought of how we have adopted our son .......until you refered to us as queers which to be honest is insulting.

Ligi Snape@facebook

I am so glad you wrote this. Had a talk with my co-workers the other day, all women, and they were up in arms that it's not even a question for me. I am adopted, I have already changed my name and as I am birthing the babies, they will all have my last name.

I'm not sure why people feel that this is weird or wrong. It's awesome.


This rings hugely with me. My family is very complicated, but basically I was raised with my mom, with interchanged boyfriends in the mix. At the end of ninth grade, I had three dads to recognize. My sisters father, who has been on and off with my mom since I was three, my biological father who I met in ninth grade, and the abusive alcoholic I thought was my dad until that time. I've thought about changing my name to my moms, because she was the only one who was there for me in my life, even if she was an alocoholic. She pushed through it for my sister and I. However I'm not going to change my name to anything, though its the same as the man that I only thought was my father and that abused me. Its the name I went through hell with, its the same one I'll probably die with. Though when I get married, the only one with the honor of walking me down the isle will be my mama.

Tangie Miner@facebook

My grandfather was given his mother's surname, because there were no more progenitors in her family. His younger siblings all got their father's name. Ironically, his own children birthed girls and the family name ended there.


I have no feelings one way or the other about whose last name to use. I did find it interesting though that when people asked if you had chosen a name you responded with the info about the last name instead of the first name. Generally speaking, that's what people are asking isn't it? If you felt it was or wanted it to be a non issue, why even address it or bring it up? Didn't that in essence, make it an issue? Just curious.

Brandee Hayes@facebook

This article is very interesting, but is lacking in many ways. Because she wrote an article like this, she has opened the topic up for discussion, which can often be perceived as judgement. She shouldn't have been shocked by the comments during her pregnancy, because any time you do something non-conventional, people are thinking about their own opinions of the subject, often out loud, and often for the first time. That aside, a last name does not just symbolize patriarchy, it also symbolizes family. Babies take their mothers last name all of the time; many single mothers, at least in my experience, give their child their last name to remove influence and rights from the biological father. Then many said children will take a step-father's last name because they want to "feel like a family". That's just a fact that I have seen many times in my experience, not revolutionary change. I grew up as a child from a divorce with a step father, and I didn't have the same last name as my mom, and I hated that. She always signed my school notes, "mother" under her different name. I love that a last name unifies my immediate family. I love that I sign our Christmas cards from The Hayes Family, when we all hug, we call it a Hayes Hug. So in this article, it sounds like a second child could have a different last name too. So, to each their own. I realize that she is only advocating for discussion; we discussed it when I was deciding if I would change my last name after getting married. But I wonder how it impacts the family identity in the future. Family needs all of the help it can get. I guess I have given this a lot of thought...

Ali Reilly

When I was 21 I changed my last name. I didn't take my mother's 'maiden' name (her father was as much of an ass as my own); I went back one more generation to take the name my grandmother was born with. My first name is a variation of her given name, and I liked the way they went together. I never knew her father, but have fond memories of her mother.

I have no children of my own, but when having discussions with friends about naming children, I thought it made sense for a daughter to take her mother's surname and for a son to take his father's surname. A way to keep both family names 'alive' without getting hyper hyphenated!

Lauren 'blunt' Bradley-Ward@facebook

Well why not really! Tradition is fine but we don't live in a very traditional society!
My eldest had to have my name as her father left whilst I was expecting. After that I followed suit with the other for consistency, that and the fact that the father of my second and third had an impossible name that no-one could ever spell!
Then I married someone else, we both took a double barrelled surname as did the 3 children we had together and the older 3 use both of our names.
I do get frustrated with how people get it wrong, calling me Mrs Bradley, who to me is my mum or Mrs Ward who to me is my mum in law! X

Shelley Kautz@facebook

Wonderful article! My last name is Kautz, and I haven't taken my husband's name. We don't have children, but I don't think my husband would be opposed to my last name. Heck, he even offered to change his name to mine! Keeping my name is not meant to disrespect, I just love my family name. Hey, maybe we're related! LOL

Alexis Volkerts

In London, when I was pregnant the first time ( almost 30 years ago) , my husband and I discussed this. We decided if the child were a boy to use my husband's last name and if it were a girl, to use mine. At the time, I understood this to be an old French custom and it seemed a good compromise, but I haven't seen that confirmed anywhere since. My husband was fine with hyphenated names, using my name alone, reversed names, or each giving a child a different last name based on gender. Having grown up a feminist, I was looking for a way to preserve my name as well as my husband's. I kept my original last name when we were married.
Our first child was a boy, so he carries my husband's last name (an easy last name to spell, but his first name is unusual). The second was a girl and she carries my last name (more unusual and difficult to spell but she has a more common first name). We moved back to Northern California, where the kids first grew up and they had no issues with either their first or last names. Later we moved to Montana. When our son was about 11 he was teased about his first name ( in Montana) so he simply changed it by usage to a very common name. But when I asked if he wanted me to change it officially, he said NO. He liked his unusual name but didn't want to be teased. So he figured when he went away to college he would go back to his unusual first name when his peers were old enough to leave it alone. I was very surprised by his maturity. When I asked our daughter at about age 10 if she wanted her father's last name and to have the same one as her brother's, she said no. She liked her unusual last name as she had a very popular first name. She also thought it was great that kids at school didn't realize he was her brother because they had different last names. Since at that age she thought he was impossible, that worked for her. It did cause some questions, some surprise that the kids were siblings with different last names, and occasionally some confusion about whether we were all related, but generally it worked well. I told both kids as soon as they could understand that if they wanted to change either their first or last names I would apply to the court to do so At no time in their lives have they wanted to take me up on it. Each has one unusual name and one common name that can be spelled easily. After 30 years, I am surprised this is still an issue, but then we lived in London and Berkeley for their first decade. There was no question of my son being teased about his name in Calif as he went to a school with 54 nationalities in it and his first name was hardly the most unusual. He only changed it to a common name wen we moved to Montana. As soon as he went back to Calif. to college, he changed it back. I see that the writer lives in Montana. No question Montana is more conservative and patriarchal than Berkeley. I share this so you know both our children like their names even though they have different last names. I wish you and your husband as good an outcome if you have more children.


My daughter has my last name. Her inseminating human (nothing so bourgeoisie as intentional artificial insemination, I was young, in college, and apparently insanely fertile as she was conceived through multiple BC types) opted early on to have nothing to do with her (I gave him that option, people have noisily contested that, but I ignore them. The small amount of cash is not worth the headache or insecurity for her, cos said inseminating human is far from stable, even still, nearly 10 years later). Anyway, there were two things he exerted any sort of opinion about. 1) if I gave her up for adoption (which I seriously considered doing), he didn't want her to go to a religious family. 2) "All my other friends who are single moms gave their kids the dad's name." I said tough shit, you don't get the privileges without doing any of the hard stuff. Nobody asks me what's up w/ her last name because ours is the same and nobody in our current life knows I wasn't married before. But my current partner and I sometimes discuss getting married. I always pitch him taking my name. He says "nope." But he'd be up for some combo of our last names that becomes one word. We'd all have to change then. Anyway, I love this piece and I applaud you and your partner for acknowledging the power of naming + for calling to attention how deeply ingrained our patriarchal sense of normal is.


Like someone else who commented, we gave our daughters my last name and our sons the name of their father. We had a girl first, so this pattern was not immediately evident to others (and I usually did not explain. Why bother?) Now my older kids are in middle school with different last names and we have never had a problem or even a confusion about it. Mostly it is a non-issue. Although I am not surprised at the reactions Ms. May describes, I have not encountered these reactions at all. Mostly, I've encountered curiosity about how it's going and whether it's caused problems.


I love this, too. I was just talking with some mom friends about how annoyed we get when strangers compliment our husbands for being "good dads" just because they are out in public with their children. Or how they use the term "babysitting" in reference to dad time. It is an insult to my husband. My mom is always saying how "lucky" I am that my husband is such a "hands' on" dad. Is there anything more obnoxious than that?! Daddies get a rough go in this patriarchy too.


I have my mother's last name because my parents never married, and my mother raised me. She really wanted a kid and was hitting menopause early. I was born in 1986, when it was very rare for a woman to completely deliberately have a child on her own. People were frequently startled, but I found that as long as I talked about it as if it were completely normal - which to me it was - they usually just went with it.

When I was growing up, my father regularly picked me up at the airport and took me on trips abroad. I don't remember ever getting shit because we didn't share a last name. I think there's a lot of power in acting like a thing is normal. In my experience, even if it's something unusual, acting like it's totally normal is the best way to make other people relax about it.

It sounds like that's what the author was trying to do, and kudos to her for that! The times are changing, it's just going to take some time.

a rue

I kept my last name when I married because I love it and it is such a huge part of my identity. My husband and I decided when I was pregnant with our first child that the first would have my husband's surname and our second would have mine. Our first is a girl and our second is a boy. I have heard next to no comments about our decisions in this arena. When I was pregnant with our son (we didn't know the sex ahead of time for either child) my mother asked a series of questions, I think, to make sure we had thought through all the implications and then said no more about it. Our son is only 5months old at this point so we will probably get some comments about our decision in the future, but we told people of our plans before he was born and no one blinked an eye. I had been curious about whether we would get any reactions and what they would be, but it has been such a non-issue that I hardly think of it now.

Joe Halloran@facebook

Good article, good living. One point - as far as I know there have been very few if any truly matriarchal societies - matrilineal yes, but matrilineal societies are still patriarchal. If you have other evidence I'd like to know it.


On a kinda related note, I didn't know till having a child that you can name them whatever you want for a surname.

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In the days after I gave birth to my daughter, her brothers kept asking her name. We said "Elisheva Gracia." They asked for her FULL name. I said her last name was the same as theirs. My oldest son, then 5, looked perplexed. "But she's a GIRL. She should have your last name!" All four, now teenagers, still think it bizarre that girls don't typically carry their mothers' last names. To them, it's simply a matter of fairness.

Jr John Smith

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Relax with the entertainment you here okay.


Thank you. Wish you a very effective working days.

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I love this post!
I'm 27, and I have my mother's last name.It's never really been an issue for me. I don't even understand why people are still okay with it being the norm for a kid to have their father's last name. All he did was provide the sperm, the mother is the one who has to suffer pregnancy and childbirth, the one who is still expected by society to be the primary parent in 2014. We have men who expect a child to have their name, but refuse to change a nappy, and call it "Babysitting" on the rare occasion they're left alone with them. And if a man does dare to be a parent, actually deserving of passing his name down he's seen as weak and emasculated. Everything is backward.


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