Monday, January 24, 2011

Yes, but What Does He Think?

Today, because it's Monday, and it's 3F (around -17C), and my superpigbirddeathflu has moved on to congestion so severe my left eye is visibly swollen and I'm not annoyed enough*, I clicked on a discussion of gender neutral names for girls.

I should know better.

First of all, multiple studies have shown that gender neutral names are advantageous for women. When compared to women with obviously female names (like mine), women with gender neutral names are more likely to get that first interview, get into college and be elected as a judge. Why? Because neither resumes, college applications nor ballots have any listing of gender on them and we live in a patriarchy. So, if you want to give your girl that little added edge, name her something not obviously female**.

That, however, is not the advice given. Nor is the advice given that it's your child, and unless you feel compelled to name that child "Hilter Motherfucker", you should name them whatever you like.

We named our daughter Kennedy for her first name and Devyn for her middle name. We now realize that when just hearing her name, no one knows if she is a boy or girl, because both first and middle names can belong to a girl or a boy. Did we make a mistake? Should we change her name while she is still very young?

Why is this even an issue? Can anyone think of a situation in which it would be vitally important that a person seeing this person's name, but not seeing them, would need to know their sex? I thought of maybe this girl being put in the boys' dorm at college, but student housing applications include a question about sex, so that still wouldn't be an issue. Really, it's a nonissue. Not to the answerer of the question, who suggested replacing "Devyn" with something girly, as if anyone anywhere is intimately familiar with everyone's middle names. Not in real life. How many people's middle names do you know? I don't even think my husband remembers my middle name. (And I know for a fact he can't spell it when he's reminded of it.)

The comments, however, really put it over the edge. (Some of the comments. A good portion of the commentors were very supportive of little Kennedy Devyn.) Science help you if you give people a moment's doubt as to your sex, apparently.

Yes duh, you gave her two boy names. Imagine she starts dating and her boyfriend starts telling his guy friends that he is dating Kennedy? Think about. Also would parents name their sons Jessica, Brittany, Tiffany, Bianca etc? Kennedy or Devyn isn't a unisex name and if it is eww.

Well, yes, when thinking of girls, we should always consider the men in their lives, even those men that don't exist yet. Pity the poor man who will, 20 years from now, be forced to explain that he is dating a female Kennedy, not a male Kennedy (or one of those Kennedys).

Why would you do this to your poor daughter? I am a teacher and it already gives me the heebe-jeebe's just thinking about calling her a boy's name. It is a detriment, believe me. There is nothing pretty about the name Kennedy for a girl. It is just weird in my opinion. Yuck.

So, in all of the difficulties of teaching, the worst is the visceral pain of calling a girl BY HER NAME.

Yes, you made a mistake by naming a girl Kennedy Devyn. With all the lovely girls names to choose, it was a stupid choice. Typical trendy name.

There are girly names you could be using, idiots! Gah!


*Heehee! Runons!

**The Hubby and I spend an inordinate amount of time naming children we will never have. I have staked out the girl's name, a version of my mother's name, and he will name any boy we don't have as a superhero. (Not "Batman", but a name like "Clark Kent" or "Bruce Wayne". He has this all worked out.)


  1. My wife and I play the "what's the most appalling child's name we can come up with" game with some frequency. Sadly, we've finished having children, so poor little Cholera Buttermuffin Mock will never have a body to go with his name.

  2. Without the whole "bloody scourge" background, "Cholera" is a pretty word.

    And I bet you anything there is a child somewhere named "Cholera".

    The Hubby once suggested "Blaze" as a name. I thought the meant "Blaise" as in Pascal, and was very impressed. Then I realized he meant "Blaze" as in fire and was appalled.

  3. If I have a daughter: Jefferson Maxwell Alan, or maybe Butch Herman Alan. My wife will even teach her to pee standing up.

  4. Just as a point of interest, in the South (where I live)children are often named their mother's maiden name. Hence a child named "Middleton" and one named "Waring". One is a boy and one is a girl, but you sure can't tell by the name...

  5. My younger brother was (ands still is) Blaise, as in St. Blaise, go get your throat blessed on February 3. Near the end of high school, he got letters asking him to consider joining the Women's Army, and several women's colleges.

  6. Um, when was "Blaise" ever a woman's name? That's weird.

  7. "Why is this even an issue?"

    The same reason "do you know whether the baby's going to be a girl or a boy yet?" is the first question people ask of parents-to-be. People have to know the child's sex so they know how they're going to treat hir.

  8. this is why i tried, SO HARD, to make anything and everything official have "S.E. {lastname]"

    alas, it didn't work.

    i'm fairly sure that i've never met a boy/man/guy with a FIRST name of Kennedy - only last name. but i must know 5 girls/women/ladies with the first name Kennedy.

    [funny story. when i did phone sex, my "name" was Kendal. and i was always a bit puzzled by the name - the policy was "guy names that could be girl names" but i'd only ever met female Kendals. then i met a Guy Named Kendal. everyone we knew tried to get us to date, it was "destined" because of the name thing. but ... he wasn't my type, and i'm pretty sure i wasn't his. but it's sort of funny, 7 years later]

    both of my names are VERY COMMON NAMES and i go thru life wondering if it's ME or someone else with my name being called, etc. so far as i'm concerned, the only "sins" in baby naming are A) giving names that everyone is giving [when i was born, the DAY i was born, there were 4 OTHER BABIES NAMED WITH THE EXACT SAME NAME IN THAT SPECIFIC HOSPITAL!] and B) giving weird, complicated, NO ONE would name their kid that type names [i mentored a girl who was named - seriously! - Tequila. she changed her name the second she turned 18]

  9. I tell people we named our 5 year old girl Ali to prepare for our future Muslim overlords.

  10. Andy, as an adult Ali, let me just say: for the love of the Quantum Field, man, don't encourage it. People are already idiots enough. I cannot tell you the number of times people called me "Ollie." Then finally when Muslim families started to make it to my pocket of Atlanta, "Ah-lee" finally hit. You just wait. In about five years, your daughter is going to start going by Alison (or Alexandria or whatever her name is), or spelling it Ally or some other variation. You just wait.

    (Then she'll go back to Ali when she realizes, f#ck that noise.)

  11. Completely off-topic, and I apologise in advance for your blood presure PF, but Todd Freil is a horrible, evil piece of excrement from a vile but resilient bacteria living in the gut of a giant tapeworm in turn existing painfully in the genital tract of the most disgusting, pathetic demon in the deepest, most terrible bowels of hell.

    Has to be seen to be believed, and even then I guarantee you'll harbour doubts that anyone could be so freaking evil.

  12. Quasar -

    oh holy fucking shit. WHY DID I WATCH THAT?!?!? the FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    i. no. NO! FUCK

  13. I have a ridiculous name. I think parents who give their children names that aren't spelled correctly or are unpronounceable are assholes. It's fucking irritating for the kids involved when their parents give them stupid names. I think these people are idiots - not for calling their kid Kennedy Devyn (even though there is no reason to spell Devon like that - assuming they mean Devon the place) - but for asking strangers on the internet whether they should change their kids' name. Why would you do that? My name is probably gender neutral. Since people see it on paper and just say 'what the fuck kind of name is that?'.


Comments are for you guys, not for me. Say what you will. Don't feel compelled to stay on topic, I enjoy it when comments enter Tangentville or veer off into Non Sequitur Town. Just keep it polite, okay?

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