Do the kids get mom's name, or dad's? How about alternating

One writer explains how she and her husband chose their daughters' last names.

Published January 13, 2006 8:16PM (EST)

Writer Marjorie Ingall and her husband have two daughters with two different last names: "Josie has my last name; Maxine has my husband's," she writes in a piece in the Forward. "Why? Well, we're feminists, but the fun kind. Not the type who sing dirge-y folk songs and talk about our personhood; the type who really do try to be fair to each other while maintaining a sense of humor and respect for difference."

This family's story is worth a read, but what's really most notable about it is the reaction that Josie's and Maxine's names draw from others. From both a cousin's girlfriend and a complete stranger, Ingall gets this horrified question: "How will they know they're sisters?"

"What is it with that question?" Ingall writes. "The person who holds you down and drools on you and cuts your Barbie's hair and gives you wet, adoring toothless kisses and protects you in the playground is your sister! How does any of us know that?" Indeed.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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