October 27th, 2011
In a recent Facebook post, I asked you to tell me what you’d like to read about.
Lauren wrote in that she’d like me to address boy’s names on girls. All the good ones are getting “stolen” by the ladies, including Cooper, Declan, Lachlyn (sic) and Noah.
At first I thought I’d give it a pass. After all, it was an original Deadly Trend, and I mostly prefer to write about my favorite names rather than harp on dislikes.
But times change and tastes change. As my children grow, we know more and more little girls with names like Connor and Blaine, Warner and George. Yes, George. And they’re DARLING little girls. You know what else? I like their parents too. So it’s caused me to rethink the phenomenon, and question the possible different motives for giving daughters masculine, or if you like — “gender neutral” names. The answer is more complicated than meets the eye.
Top 5 Reasons Why People Choose Boys’ Names for Girls, and Why We Should Give Them a Pass:
1. It actually does honor family. This is my favorite reason to use a surname or masculine name on a daughter. Daughters should carry on the family name just as much as sons. My answer to this was to give both my own daughters multiple middles that include my surname.
2. You reject the notion that anything in this world is gendered, including names. This strikes me as forward thinking, appropriate to this global age, and truly modern. My second favorite reason.
3. Surnames connote wealth. On Pamela Satran’s recent article on Gatsby being the next fictional name, I had a little google for the character list of a novel I haven’t picked up in 15 years. In addition to my beloved (and memorable) Daisy, there was a name I’d long forgotten- Jordan, on a woman. From the description (again, my memory fails) ’A competitive golfer, Jordan represents one of the “new women” of the 1920s—cynical, boyish, and self-centered.’ I don’t know that parents aim for the “self-centered” part, but somehow, nearly 100 years after the novel was published, the modern “new woman” appliqué still rings true for many.
4. You think it sounds strong. This is actually categorically the opposite reason as #2. If a masculine name connotes strength and a feminine name connotes weakness, what does that say about our views of women in general? Should we just all wear muscle shirts, shave our heads, and take steroids? Wear a suit and tie? Start swearing like sailors? I’m not sure I understand this reason, but I *think* I get it.
5. It sounded good. It’s hard enough for two people to come to a consensus on one thing. Who are we to take away their favorite name just because it falls into a specific category? While “sounding good” is not enough for those of us who long for meaning and history, it is perhaps ultimately, the most important thing in choosing a name. It’s one you may say hundreds of times on any given day, and you have to love it. If that name for you is Walker or Emmett or Elliott and you’re thinking pink, then more power to you. Just don’t expect cheers from the current crop of name nerds.
Do you have strong feelings on this topic one way or another? Did you choose a boys’ name for a girl, and if so, what were your reasons behind the choice? Parents of boys, have you seen your sons name go to the other side?
August 20th, 2009
These kids were born “good ole boys.”
Many truly are. The young man who sat next to me on the plane went to this school. He shared his ipod and cell phone with my toddler to help entertain her during the near two hours we waited on the runway. He carried my bags off the flight, and waited patiently while I buckled both girls into their double stroller (I was traveling alone with two under two). Too bad I didn’t find the same humanity from the Delta employee on the return leg. ”I have to carry my own bags off” was her appalling reply when I asked politely for help. I had a baby in each arm! Some people just hate breeders.
This list is awesome if I do say so myself. Special thanks to my mother, who painstakingly typed out each name from the catalogue of my uncles’ alma mater. These represent all ages.
Bennett (Field, Sanford)
Field (x2) (twin Sanford, Bennett)
Hamilton (x2) (Clay)
Sanford (Bennett, twin Field)
August 16th, 2009
My recent trip down south left me largely incommunicado. Apologies. However, I return with a full report on Southern baby naming. My vacation turned up an alumni magazine for the all girls school my mother once attended, and I’ve included names from its rival as well. Mostly these just reaffirm that Southerners spearheaded the movement of surnames on girls, often as a way of passing on family heritage that could otherwise be lost. So too do they like to pass on the names of their grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Siblings Georgina and Frances are particularly delightful. Pretty girls, too.
Anna (x2) (& Grace)
Georgina (& Frances)
Margaret (x2) (& Nancy)
Meg (probably Margaret)
Reese (x2) (& twin Tess)
Tess (twin Reese)