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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » What's in a name?

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Author Topic: What's in a name?
Rizzo
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Today I read an article about the trend of naming girls "Noa" "Riley," and other "boy" names. (Unfortunately I could not find it on the web.)

It said that in Germany, "a name code dictates that a kid's gender has to be recognized from his or her first name". Do you know anything about this, Alaska?

Anyway, what do you guys think of gender-bending baby names? I have no problem with it, but personally I prefer feminine names, and would probably give one to my child regardless of gender (e.g. I like "Vyvyan" and "Robin" for boys).

However, the little article I read said cross-gender naming is "definitely a one-way trend". Pamela Satran, a baby name book author says: "You can buy your little girl trucks and dress her in overalls, but you really can't put your little boy in a skirt and name him Sue. We all, no matter how feminist, agree on that."

Hmm, really? Then I must be more feminist than she can even imagine! ;P


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John Doe
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Reminds me of that old Jonny Cash song.

Funny you should mention the name Robin for a boy. A very good buddy of mine growing up was named Robin. The worst part of it though was that his last name was Hood. I kid you not, it was on his birth certificate and everything. Actually it seems as if girls having "guy names" is pretty common and has been for a while, although usually with a twist on the spelling, like Toni vs. Tony.


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Gumdrop Girl
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i know more guy Robins than girl Robins (three to one).

Reminds me of a show on Nickelodeon back in the early 90s called 'Hey Dude,' where one of the characters was a girl named Bradley and she had to deal with quite a few gender issues (the name, being a tomboy, and whatnot).

I read a similar article some years ago about traditionally masculine names becoming more common with girls. Some include: Leslie, Jordan, Morgan and Taylor.

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trouble247
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i think that if a boy has a girl or a girl has a boy name they would be sooo made fun of & thats not fair it is not thier fault what thier parents name them
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Rizzo
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Well, children are made fun of for lots of things that aren't their fault. Children tease each other for wearing the wrong shoes, or having a lisp, or liking classical music. As far as I'm concerned, my kid is going to get teased no matter what his or her name is.
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Gumdrop Girl
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Just thought I'd shed a smidgen of opinion and experience on the topic of naming kids.

giving your child an "unusual" name can pose problems that go way beyond teasing.

I have a Thai name. Thai ppl are notorious for having really long names whose spellings and pronunciations are very difficult for non-Thai literates.

My name barely fits on my credit card. Oftentimes, my name does not fit on forms. And while no one's outright insulted my name, they've managed to butcher its spelling and pronunciation by every permutation. I've had university documents get screwed up because some errant secretary entered my name in the computer incorrectly. It gets tiresome and annoying. At least all the sounds in my name are pronounceable in English (very important when you live in a predominantly English-speaking society); I have friends whose names contain vowels and consonants that do not occur in English.

So, i know it's off topic, but please be kind to your children when you pick names for them. don't let them go through what i've had to deal with all my life. see why everyone calls me Gummy?

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Aria51
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My son Evan is one of only 2 male Evans I know, all the rest are female. My name is a masculine name with a -na attatched to the end; my sister's is a masculine name with an -ie tacked on. (Brianna and Stephanie.)

When I have another baby, s/he will be called Auren. I like ambiguous names like that.

So really, I don't think assigning "boy" names go girls and "girl" names to boys is a horrible thing to do. It's not like anyone is going to name their boy Princess FussyPants Pink Lacy Sparkle, or their girl King MuscleHead BeerDrinker TruckDriver. Right?

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Only In Dreams
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quote:
Originally posted by Aria51:
My son Evan is one of only 2 male Evans I know, all the rest are female. My name is a masculine name with a -na attatched to the end; my sister's is a masculine name with an -ie tacked on. (Brianna and Stephanie.)

Hmm, really? Every Evan I've ever known has been male. Either way, it's a great name.

The last three children in my family have fairly uncommon names, but all very gender-specific.

So really, I don't think assigning "boy" names go girls and "girl" names to boys is a horrible thing to do. It's not like anyone is going to name their boy Princess FussyPants Pink Lacy Sparkle, or their girl King MuscleHead BeerDrinker TruckDriver. Right?

[/QUOTE]

LOL, right! I knew a boy named Alexis in Elementary school, and whenever I told people about him they always said, "'Alexis?' That's a girl's name!" I personally have always wanted to (if I do have children), name them very uncommon names. We had a fantastic book around here that named all sorts of uncommon names for girls and boys, and often suggested that you "use this name for a boy/girl instead of a girl/boy".

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Beppie
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My name is actually a female name in Holland and a male name in Italy, so I've had some people comment that I have a "boy's name" and it doesn't bother me too much. I think that boys are more likely to be teased for having a "girl's" name because for some reason, being female-like is seen to be derogatory for a boy.

Intrinsically, there is nothing in a name though that indicates gender, worthiness or anything else, so while I like the idea of neutral names, I don't think that there's any harm in giving a child a name that is generally seen as in keeping with their gender.


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lemming
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May I put out a warning, as an aside:

If you're going to name your child something "different," make it a LOT different, not something which could be mistaken as close.

Case in point: I was born in 1982. My name is Laurel. Around the time I was born and named, Lauren, Laurie, and Lori were pretty popular in my area as names for girls. Result? I grew up having my name misspelled and miscalled for years and years and years. And for the last time, too, it's LAH-rel, not LOH-rel. Jeez. ;]

I would warn against naming kids popular names, though. I've always been proud to have not met many Laurels, but I can't even count the number of Jennifers I know.

--

My dad's name is Rene'. He's Hispanic, and from what I know Rene' can be a guy's name, but when I had to hand in checks for things at school, people always looked at the names on the checks and looked at me like, "Heather has two mommies." Sigh.

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BruinDan
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Contrary to popular belief, my name is not Dan. No, no...it is in fact the far more masculine Danny.

Seriously, I've gone by Danny since the day I was born, and it has served me fairly well. I never really worried about it coming off as a masculine or feminine name when I was younger, as I always just thought it was a boyish name. Until I met a girl whom I worked with named Danielle...who went by Dani. Now ordinarily this wouldn't have been a problem. Except that we dated a few times, and being "Danny and Dani" just wouldn't cut it.

My friends always joked that if the two of us were ever to become physically intimate, I'd sound like a weirdo if I moaned my own name out loud in the heat of passion.

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smittenkitten
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My Parent's chose quite unusual names and I can say mine has caused quite a bit of trouble.

Okay here it is:
Winifred

Okay, I used to get called "Winnie the pooh" at school (who I never got into).

But as if that wasn't bad enough, my dad is of german descent, and guess what his surname is?

That's right, I was doomed to be the butt of "Nightmare on Elm St" jokes.

My best friend calls me "Freddy" affectionately, and I don't mind as long as she doesn't add in the surname.

My middle names are pretty cool, one was after my mums friends and the other from a book character.

Hugs & Scully,
Winnie :0)


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Miss Thang
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jamie's a cute boys name. reagan is a cute girls name. when i have kids, they're gonna have the coolest names.
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alaska
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Oh, I am late to answer your question, Rizzo.

Yes, there is a rule here in germany that a name has to somehow indicate a kids's gender. However, this really is more a rule that prevents super-unusal names that might haunt the kids one fine day.

I'll try to find some examples of names that weren't accepted, to show you what's up here. It really isn't half as bad as it sounds.

...and I am all for unusual names, too. Nothing worse as all the zillions of Katrin, Martin, Michael and Christians I know.

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alaska
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Oh well. Sad moment, I just realised that the german name rule is as restrictive as it sounds.

For all on german first name law....

A first name must

*be a first name, and recognizable as such (i.e. no product names, no geographical names - good that Posh Spice and Beckham don't live here, no son namend "Brooklyn" over here)

* not be possibly defamatory ( so no "Judas" over here)

*first names aren't allowed to be family names, unless it's a traditional way of naming kids

*any variation of a name is ok, all short forms (like Danny or Caro), and all kinds of writing, to.

*names need to show the gender of the child. if the first name is gender-ambigous, a second first name that is gender-definitive is to be given. the only exception being "Maria" as a second first name for boys, for religious reasons.

There have been several court cases over here on the latter point, and there seems to be a definitive opening up here. It's very rare that parents can not name their child as they want to.

...and now I'll go and look for some examples...

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Gumdrop Girl
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quote:
be a first name, and recognizable as such (i.e. no product names, no geographical names

i think this is odd because a lot of geographical places are named for people. America is derived from the first name of Amerigo Vespucci. There's Austin, Texas, and I know a lot of guys named Austin. Hmm. I suppose that law sorta sucks.

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alaska
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More... (if you want it or not)

If you give your kid an unusal name, it's enough if you can prove that the word is a first name in another part of the world.

Recently, a kid here was namend 'Chenekwahow Migiskau Kioma Ernesto Tecumseh' and well, is that gender obvious at first sight? Hmmmm.

Also recently approved names are "Sonne" ("Sun"), Chelsea (isn't that a suburb of London, and hence geographical?!), a boy was named Nicola Andrea (because these names are ok for boys in Italy), a girl was named Mike Nike (Mike being said with a long I and Nike seen as a female name for the goddess of success), Raven Friederike was okay for a girl, Prestige was okay for a girl and Jesus, is okay for boys, too (it being a common first name in south america a stronger factor than the religious connotation)

...SO really...i think regulations are definitely getting loser over here...

Other European countries, such as Norway, have definitive name lists, from which you have to choose your kids name, almost without any exceptions being made.

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alaska
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Actually, Gummy, I suppose this rule is especially against using german geographical names, aka naming a boy "Matterhorn" or whatever else.

I find this whole name law thing rather non-exact and, well, dumb. No consistency at all here!
And I especially hate the fact that they give a council worker the right to decide whether your kids name is ok or not. Nice.

I shall haev kids and name them somewhere else, I think.

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smittenkitten
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Wow, that whole naming law thing sounds like it should be illegal!

Thank god Australia doesn't have that law, or I could be a Mary! (Thats what I get called at school photos every year)

Hugs & Scully,
Winnie :0)


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alaska
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Well, Winnie, I bet with you that Winnifred would be fine with every council worker in Germany!

I think your name is cool, gal, simply because it's so unusual. And somehow, I associate it with being rebellious. Maybe i read some novel where Winnifred was a rebellious gal in a british boarding school in the 19th century. Dunno. But it's got a rebellious ring to it. At least for me.

And well, yes, I think that naming law thing sucks, even though the basical motive (to prevent poor kids growing up as "Judas" "Micky Mouse" "Nuclear Winter" or whatever else...) is prolly a good one.

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bettie
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The province of Quebec seems to have someone who approves the names of children born in Quebec. His judgement made the news in 1998. I am not sure how things are at this present moment.

quote:
Guy Lavigne, Quebec's
registrar of civil status. The seven staffers in M. Lavigne's office reject about 20 of the 85,000 names of
newborns submitted annually, including Goldorak, Lion, Cowboy, Gazouille, and Boum-Boum. Some applicants appeal to the
courts, for example the parents of Tomas Gagnon, who won the right to put an accent over the a in Tomas, which Lavigne's
office had rejected on the grounds that the computers couldn't handle accents. However, the courts upheld rejection of the
name Spatule, meaning either spoonbill (a type of bird) or cooking spatula.

quote:
Robert Douglas' new name, Tiyani Behanzin, has been accepted by the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom but, when he tried to register it in his native Quebec, Lavigne told him to take a hike. Mr. Behanzin is of African descent and wished to rid himself of the psychological
shackles of his slave name and take something more evocative of the heart of the dark continent before the white man came: where
Tiyani goes, no men go. Unfortunately, as far as M. Lavigne's concerned, no nomen goes unless he says so. "The name sought by the
petitioner is a name of foreign origin that can be difficult to pronounce or write."

Lavigne is fast becoming a household name, at least in those households where he's rejected their names. Before Mr. Behanzin, sorry, Douglas, there were Michael Janacek and Kelly Levis, who wanted to call their daughter Ivory, which Quebec's directeur deemed unacceptable on the grounds that it was too easily confused with the popular brand of soap.

I am not sure if gender is a criteria when deciding if a name is acceptable.


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Rizzo
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Alaska, thanks a lot for clearing that up. Pretty silly law.

Bettie, do you recall some years ago in Quebec, an uproar over naming a baby "Ivory"? For some reason, this little girl's name was not deemed proper by the naming police. In the end they relented, I believe. I think it's quite a pretty name...


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LilBlueSmurf
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I don't think i've ever met a guy named Hollie. Actually, i'm one of the two "Hollie"'s i know. (One of them is my ex bf's new gf ... how twisted is THAT? And, well, the other would be me)

However, I know way too many Holly's. Everyone spells it like the plant, and not like the plural of the plant, w/o the "S" of course. You wouldn't imagine the insane spellings of my name people come up w/ ... Of course the most common mistake is Holly, followed by Holli, Hollee, Holley and Holi. Geez ... It's Holl*IE* Sounds the same, spelled different.

When i have kids, i think they'll be typical names of boys and girls. I actually have the names picked out ... Mathieu David Bruce and Mikaela or Samantha Darlene ... Weird huh? No mistaking the genders there.


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Gumdrop Girl
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hey Smurf, in the Orson Welles movie The Third Man, one of the male lead characters is Hawley Martin, which sounds not unlike Hollie.

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Bobolink
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OT comment. Is The Third Man really an Orson Welles film? He is on screen 3 times and only has one dialog scene. Mind you, his character, Harry Lime dominates the film even though he is so seldom on screen.

- A "The Third Man" lover.

[This message has been edited by Bobolink (edited 10-25-2001).]


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John Doe
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As I recall he was the director of the film, so its as much a Wells film as any Hitchcock film. Hitchcock usually appeared only once per film.
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Bobolink
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"The Third Man" was directed by Sir Carol Reed (interesting first name for a man) and writen by Graham Greene. It is generally believed that Orson Welles had input into his "cuckoo clock" speech on the Ferris Wheel.

[This message has been edited by Bobolink (edited 10-26-2001).]


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Lisa D
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Bobo -

So cool that you are into The Third Man...I personally consider it a must see, but I encounter so many people who have never heard of it.

One question though - What *IS* the name of the instrument used repeatedly through the soundtrack? If memory serves, it begins with a Z, but since my memory often *refuses* to serve me, I could be full of shite


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Bobolink
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The film score for "The Third man" was written and perfomed by Anton Karas on a zither. The story is that Carol Reed heard Karas playing in a Vienna bar and engaged hime to compose and play the music for the film. In the European release (I understand the Americans saw different credits), you can see the zither being played under the opening credit roll. The zither is very much a Viennese instrument so it was very appropriate for the film.

A good reference is here: http://www.filmsite.org/thir.html

[This message has been edited by Bobolink (edited 10-26-2001).]


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Gumdrop Girl
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I think Carol started out as a masculine name as well. Carolus Linnaeus (a Latin-ized version of his given name) was the scientist who gave us the modern system for taxonomical nomenclature (Genus species).

as for the zither in the opening creds, I saw it in the versions I saw. And as for calling it an Orson Welles flick, Orson did do 'The Third Man' radio programs. But did those come before or after the film?

and the cuckoo clock scene is one of the greatest monologues in all of cinematic history. i have it written on a piece of paper on my desk.

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entropie
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*steering the thread back on topic*

I got the boys name. My mother and father were post-hippy, so decided to name me Jayce. I have been given various reasons including that they thought I was going to be a boy (a Jayson), and weren't inventive enough to change it much further when I turned out to be a girl.

I have a never ending list of names I am called (people think I am mispronouncing my own name). Amongst the popular ones are:

  • Jackie
  • Jaqueline
  • Jo
  • Jason (of course)
  • Jade
  • Jamie
  • Jess

Aside from that, I always get the "but thats a boys name!" response.

Sometimes I think about changing my name to something nice and feminine, like Gloria or something. One day! I have promised myself to never do that to any children of mine.


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Rizzo
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In this thread, I've noticed a lot of people saying things like "It's wrong to do that to your children, because they'll get teased."

But I wonder, isn't that just letting "them" win? Is gender really so important to us that we have to be offended when we (or our children) are mistaken for a boy/girl?Perhaps we should just teach our children that there's nothing wrong with being either female or male... and if they are "accused" of being the opposite gender, it's really an empty insult.

I'm just saying that the fear of schoolyard teasing shouldn't prevent you from raising your children the way you believe is right. Many cultures and religions have traditional items of clothing which are bound to be teased... but they can also be a source of pride...


Posts: 582 | From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
nz_dude
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When parents name their kids they do it to suit the culture in which they'll grow up in. I have a unisex name (Nicky) which is commonly used as a girls name. In my country of birth (Indonesia) Nicky was an acceptable name but when I came to live in New Zealand when I was five I was teased and called a girl at school, ect...

I've gotten over it and all the people who are important to me dont tease me about it. But I use the name Nick when I meet new people. And being called names at school didn't help with a last name Dorcas.

Well I've gotten over the fact that where I live in, the names that were given to me are unsual and scarce, I still get teased but I know that what they say won't mean anything to me unless I want it to.


Posts: 5 | From: Auckland, New Zealand | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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