So yes, yesterday's comment
did have me pounding my head on the keyboard. As I ponder my teachable moment, I have to consider the several options the cited naming trend opens up.
The cool business of giving babies, of one of the principal genders, names connected with the other principal gender is very decidedly a one-way street. For instance, I doubt that my neighbour's daughter Ryan (a surname really, but never mind) will need to punch everyone's lights out to defend her name in grade school. If these people had a son, and named the child Jennifer, I guarantee that boy's fists would be busy from the moment he was able to stand. A Boy Named Sue
was fiction. Until gender equality is real, giving girl babies boy names simply co-opts that name for the girls. The co-opted boy doesn't get tough. He gets fucked up, beaten up, or actually does die.
That's why a cute trend that enables gender-based bullying and youth suicide doesn't seem terribly cute to me, a person with an unusual name being steadily co-opted. Celebrities don't concern themselves with such details, because they don't seem to concern themselves with other human beings at all.
OK, I've lost this fight. I ain't quitting, as they say, but I've surrendered and I'm looking over my options.
Option 1. Move back to Wales, or New Zealand, or a few other parts of the former empire less afflicted with celebrititis, where the range of available names is wider than it is in the bible-toting US of A.
Option 2. Assimilate. (This is the preferred solution of the job-hunt gurus, by the way.) Go to court and change my name to Bryan-Byron-Byrne (I can toss a coin to choose). When I've done that, I should also adopt a red-blooded American nickname—say, Butch or Buzz— and use that on my resume.
Option 3 has the greatest appeal. If someone has been blessed with a gender-neutral or gender-ambiguous name, I think they should take that as licence to be
gender-neutral or gender-ambiguous. Since adults are useless in such matters during one's formative years, the gender-ambiguous child may want to consider recruiting a bodyguard.
If celebrities take it upon themselves to enhance the ambiguity of your name, remember that celebrities are authority figures too, in their fatuous way. You must keep control of the situation and stay one step ahead of them
You might even parlay your gender neutral identity into a celebrity of your own. This would not be a cop-out, if you used your position to make gender equality something more than lip service. Only then would a name become just a name, and not an immutable signpost of gender identification.
Labels: baby names, gender equality, names