What's in a Name?


From common names to pet names, married names to alter egos, our Rebellious writers answer August's central question. Coming to terms with our names or making the choice to change them can be a long journey. And some of us got here in shopping carts



It's my name, and I'm keepin' it

By Jessie Mary Ray Hawkins Cunningham I was born Jessie Mary Ray, named for my father. I married and became Jessie Mary Hawkins. Went to work, and my new employer renamed me Jessie Ray Hawkins. I divorced and remarried, becoming Jessie Cunningham. After explaining that I was the mother o..


An Olympic connection

By Nelly Min I have always felt uncomfortable with my name – Nelly. It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, it’s hard to understand over the phone, it’s almost always misspelled (is that with a Y or IE?) and people often think I am an 80-year-old white grandmother...


Skirting the issue

By Sarah Fentem I was at a party last weekend talking to one of my oldest friends, Nathan Foley, when one of our mutual friends popped up in the conversation. "I tried to get a hold of Heather," said Foley. "I’m trying to get her to come up for a visit." To the unaffiliated, it wou..


Bit o' honey

By Editor Karen Hawkins I call everybody Honey. My best gay male friends, the server at the restaurant who refills my glass before I even notice it's empty, and quietly to myself, a woman I see walking down the street in just the wrong outfit. The flavors for thes..


For the love of Coffee

By Senior Editor Melanie Coffee I’ve always thought I had a great last name. It’s Coffee. Like the drink (or as some say, like the bean.) Growing up, the kids would try to tease me about my name, but I remember scoffing at them because their jokes were never, ever original. I..


From housewife to zombie enthusiast

By Tara Davidson I was recently called a Zombie Enthusiast by my husband. Up until this point, as a midwestern mother of three I fancied myself as a bit uptight, fairly neurotic, and far from a zombie enthusiast. However, with that being said, if somebody had told me two years ago I would..


I owe it all to LuLu

By Cheryl Wilson I took Introduction to Creative Writing my freshman year of college to get my lower-level intensive writing requirement out of the way. Everyone knew that the creative writing courses were easier than our other options (writing-intensive Industrial/Organizational Psycho..


New decade, new name

I am rebellious because I changed my last name without getting married. By my late 20s, plenty of my girlfriends had changed their names — for better or for worse — and, like Carrie Bradshaw and her shoe registry, I decided to appropriate one of the potential perks of matrimony...


Why we combined our last names

By Bryn Huntpalmer When my husband and I got married, neither of us automatically assumed that I would take his last name. We are both progressive thinkers with rebellious tendencies, and the whole idea of the woman sacrificing her identity for the sake of patriarchy didn't sit well. Plus, I..


My name, and many others, is Michelle (ma belle)

By Senior Editor M.L. Johnson A lot of people worry these days about identity theft. I have spent most of my life dealing with identity confusion. I have one of the most common names in the United States. Two million people shared my last name as of 2009, making it the second most common..


What's in my name? Me

By Megan Cottrell I never understood why keeping my name should be any kind of social rebellion. I mean, really, why should anyone care more than I do what my name is? But I find that keeping one's name is like a lot of other topics in a woman's life -- everyone from the grocery store cl..