Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Monday, April 04, 2016

Old rant, new arrangement

Those who care to shuffle around in older posts here will find variations on these themes.

  1. Americans who can pronounce my name correctly amount to a fraction of a percentage. It is a simple, one-syllable Welsh name, easy to pronounce if you stayed awake in third-grade grammar class long enough for the uses of "y" as a vowel. But most red-blooded "real 'Muricans" can't spell or pronounce English, proving that they were very sleepy in grade school, or their teachers were lazy, or they are lazy, or a combination thereof. I've observed that recent immigrants are much more attentive to things like this. If they come across a name they can't pronounce, they'll usually ask, politely, how to pronounce it, and listen to the answer. 'Muricans, even those who ask, are too arrogant or lazy to listen.
  2. Despite this, gen-X Americans in particular, and regrettably some millennials, are moderately obsessed with digging up cute and "original" names for their spawn. African-Americans, who devise entirely new names, are the ones who are really original in this line. The white begetters and consumers of cute baby names either take a European gender-appropriate name from a language they don't understand, or take a name that sounds "interesting," regardless of its gender in the original language, and apply it to their offspring whether it fits or not. Thus, if you rummage around Google for "Bryn," in the U.S.A, you'll find a significant number are female, bearing a name which in the U.K. is as gender-specific as Fred or George.
  3. The purveyors of cute baby names assert that it is much better to blend genders like this. However, the blending usually works out better for the girls than the boys. First, there is a social bias favouring the use of traditionally male names for female children. Second, it has been noted (when I get around to finding the citation I'll link to it) that when a male (or place) name is used often enough for female offspring, it loses its male or neutral identity and becomes female. This rather works against the purveyors' hypothesis.
  4. My latest observation is that while American parents are earnestly blending the genders of their little sprats' names, or favouring the practise, few among them are prepared to have their children, or someone else's, actually blend their genders. Note that I'm not talking about gay children, who still have troubles of their own with many parents. While my interest here does encompass transfolk, the area that is still beyond the pale for most of the parents happily playing gender games with  childrens' identities is that broadly called non-binary. I rather doubt that there is a clear indication that gender-neutral names produce non-binary adults. I know of too many non-binary and trans individuals who began their lives with some sort of gender-specific name to see a correlation. All the same it would make an interesting study. What I do suggest is that parents who are willing to accept gender-blended names, but unwilling to accept children whose actual identity doesn't match expectations, are thirteen different kinds of hypocrite. This is true, I think, whether the child in question is theirs or someone else's, and whether the individual is still a child or has become an adult. It is especially true when the person rendering judgement is a legislator or other authority figure. While we're proposing studies, how about one checking up on the sort of names reactionary lawmakers are giving their kids?


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