I had wanted to write about what appeared to be a trend to give boys’ names to girls; it is something that really bothers me. Before I started my rant, I thought I had better check what the current trends really are. It is easy to go off on a rant without knowing the facts, and misinformed ravings are silly, in my opinion.
I Googled “Popular names 2014” and to my relief, the top nine names are still reflective of our gender bias: Sophia, Sofia, Ava, Olivia, Mia, Isabella, Abigail and Emily, Elizabeth…all good in the top bunch, and then….then there is “Madison”. This name rose to popularity after the Daryl Hannah mermaid in “Splash” called herself “Madison” after a street sign. It used to be a boy’s name up to the early 1950’s, then returned in the mid 80’s to the end of the previous century. It was a male name and a surname, a variant of “Mathieson”.
Imagine naming your child after a place…yes, we all know about Paris (very sexy), but London? That dreary foggy grey city? What are you thinking, mom and dad? Sydney is another popular name, but in my mind it is most definitely associated not with the city but with a man called Sydney Carton, yes, Google it if you are that illiterate. He was a nasty horrible man.
As for “Brooklyn“, really people? Was the child conceived on or under the bridge? Why not Raleigh, Sturgis, Denver, or even Intercourse (PA)? The latter would certainly make sense.
If names are associated with things or places, then why name your child Piper? Makes me think of an airplane, or the Pied Piper. It’s a surname (or last name as American English prefers) and it must have been referring to plumbing or a person that lays or makes pipes, or plays the bagpipes. I will look that up as soon as my internet decides to function again.(Okay, I checked, they were bagpipers from Scotland.) So imagine your little girl blowing some pipes. Hmmm.
Peyton” (# 51) is reminiscent of the novel, which later became the TV series, “Peyton Place”, which was supposed to have been quite scandalous in its day, and “Aubree” (number 52) is a boy’s name with a different spelling, supposedly to make it more feminine, because “Audrey” would sound too girlish? Or “Aubrey” too boyish? Of course, no one wants a child called “Audrey”, we remember comic books with that horrid Little Audrey who always wore a red dress. I used to want to take a crayola and scribble over her naughty little face.
How about “Genesis“…really?? Do you even know what it means? It means “Beginning”. Hopefully the next twenty siblings will also have Biblical names like Exodus, Psalms, Chronicles, Deuteronomy and Ecclesiastes.
“Taylor” is a surname, for people who used to make clothes, and MacKenzie is a Scottish name that means who knows what. As for “Kennedy”, I am flabbergasted. You know it will be shortened to “Ken” or Kenny” who is Barbie’s sexless, dick-less boy toy.
“Morgan” comes in at #100, and I associate it with some or other actor. Probably the dude who played God in Bruce Almighty. I am probably wrong, so don’t go crazy now.
I think I have gotten the wrong impression about the names thing because Hollywood persistently portrays “strong” women with male names. A case in point is “Gravity” where the woman who screwed everything up was called Ryan Stone. “Ryan” means “Little king”. Why do they think she could not be called Amanda, or Rosie, or Ophelia? She would still be an astronaut, scientist and engineer. Still screwing up, regardless.
Is it because they think that being feminine means you are soft or incapable or weak? Do you really think the Amazons – that fierce warrior woman tribe – had male names? Or that Boadicea wanted to be called “Fred”? Maggie Thatcher had balls of steel and Indira Gandhi wasn’t called Rajeev; Golda Meir was a force to be reckoned with and Angela Merkl is not named Hans or Heinz.
Strong women do exist in the real world; they are leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, mothers, teachers, nurses… we don’t need to be given boys’ names to prove that we have what it takes. Names carry an energy and the numerology of a name can be illuminating; even doing some research as to the actual original meaning of the word can provide clarity.
In spite of all this, your daughter will grow up strong and capable if you allow her the freedom to be herself, and not box her into some pre-ordained culturally approved role. Don’t make a point of giving her only a Meccano set; give her and her brother choices; dolls cars, train sets, puzzles…and books. Children will play with what takes their imagination, and you can not force a girl into playing with “boys'” toys any more than you can force a boy not to instinctively turn a stick into an imaginary gun. We are wired in some weird way to accept our gender roles, our genes and hormones.Those children who explore beyond their biochemistry, who use their intellect and curiosity to explore whatever their fancy is, all the better for them. Encourage them and challenge them. Give them the tools to succeed. We need to allow them just to be…Rhondas, Sheilas, Alices or whatever, not Morgans, Peytons and Rochesters. Or Intercourses.
Please, let girls be girls, they are strong enough to give birth, strong enough to rule a country. They don’t need to be propped up artificially.