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Category: gender and names

Goodbye Girls’ (Names)

boy names

Guest blogger Deb Levy, who writes with her husband about life in these recessionary times at And For Poorer, had three wonderful girls’ names all picked out. The only thing she was missing was the daughters to give them to.

“It’s a girl!” the doctor cried after the gazillionth push.

My arms reached out to welcome my firstborn, a skinny chicken of a child, who immediately soaked my chest with her inaugural pee. The nurse turned my daughter onto her back to face me, and the arc of urine shot upwards.

“Oops, no. It’s a boy.”

I felt as if I had been hit by a truck. A very large truck. There were so many layers of shock, unidentifiable from each other. The fact that this baby came in July when the actual due date was end of August; my preeclamptic body swollen and unrecognizable; the exhaustion, the pain.

And, yes, the penis.

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Boys’ Names for Girls: A Key To Success?

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Will giving your daughter a masculine name — as Heidi Klum and Seal did with their newborn daughter Lou — increase her odds for career success?

It might if she goes into the legal profession, according to a new study.  Women with masculine names make more money as lawyers than those with feminine names and are more likely to be appointed to judgeships, say researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina.

Not only that, but the more masculine the name, the better.  A woman named Kelly has a five percent greater chance of becoming a judge than a Sue, while Cameron’s odds are tripled and a female Bruce’s are quintupled.

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boyflowers

For a long time, as girls marched in masculine naming territory, appropriating such boys’ names as Blair and Blake, Avery and Riley, Peyton and Parker, the boys retreated to firmly male turf, reviving such classics as William and Henry, forging into new macho terrain with names like Hunter and Stone.

It was okay, the thinking went with names as with clothing, toys, and career aspirations, for girls to adopt masculine attributes, but not for boys to take up girlish things.

Now, though, something surprising has happened. Boys’ names are getting decidedly softer, with traditional choices that include sibilant sounds and vowel endings gaining in popularity, and parents reclaiming unisex names for their sons.

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Baby Name Timeline

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When we were preparing the article “Bizarre Baby Names: A Growing Trend?” for the July issue of  Reader’s Digest magazine that’s just hit the stands, we put together a lonnnnnng timeline of the key markers in American name history–much longer than they could possibly use with the story.  So here we offer you some of the dates and events that you won’t find in the magazine.

1620.  The Mayflower arrives bearing 102 passengers, mostly with classic English names, but also one Degory, one Resolved, one Remember, one Wrestling, and one Oceanus, who was born mid-voyage.

1750s. Enter classical names (Homer, Horace), chivalrous names (Arthur, Elaine), and romantic girls (Lavinia, Rosalind).  More boys are being called Junior.

1768. Birth of Dolley Madison, one of the increasing number of babies with nicknames on their birth certificates.

1825. John Quincy Adams is the first President to have a middle name, a rarity at this time, when it becomes fashionable to use the mother’s maiden name.

1845. The Irish famine sends masses of Bridgets and Patricks to America.

1925. Girls’ names ending in ‘s’ are fashionable–Gladys, Doris, Phyllis, Lois; also those ending in een (Kathleen) and ette (Paulette).

1946. Publication of Dr. Benjamin Spock’s The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care encourages parents to be more relaxed, confident and collaborative: husbands participate more in child care–and baby naming.

1950.  Linda unseats the seemingly unseatable Mary as the number one name for girls.

1959. First Gidget movie released; surfer dude names like Gary, Scott, Dwayne and Bruce catch the wave.

1959.  Mattel introduces the Barbie doll; other nickname names like Lori, Cindy, Sherry and Terri are hot.

1966. Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. renounces his “slave name” to become Muhammed Ali; other celebrities follow suit, influencing African-American baby naming.

1967.  Frank Zappa names his first child Moon Unit,  a seminal ‘kooky’ baby name.  Son Dweezil will follow two years later.

1968. TV westerns like Here Come the Brides, featuring brothers Jason, Jeremy and Joshua, signal a return of old cowboy names.

1974. The first issue of People magazine accelerates fascination with celebrity culture, parents start to be increasingly influenced by names stars give their babies.

1987. Movie Wall Street proclaims “Greed is good,” summing up the Go-Go 80s and inspiring Waspy surnames for boys (Carter, Parker) and androgynous exec names for all (Kyle, Blake, Blair).

1998. Parents continue to get more and more kreeatif with spellings like Adan, Austyn and Alivia all in the year’s Top 700.

2000. The Internet inspires parents to search genealogy sites for old family names.

2003. Extreme starbaby names grow more extreme–this year alone sees the arrival of Pilot Inspektor, Audio Science and Banjo.

2008. Reason returns: With economic downturn, parents look back to solid, traditional girls’ names like Ella, Grace, Olivia, and biblical boys Jacob, Ethan, Benjamin.

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Beyond Ava & Aiden is Born

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Beyond Ava & Aiden hits the bookstores today,  the first complete all-new edition of our landmark book, Beyond Jennifer & Jason, totally revised from beginning to end, with a brand new title and lots of brand new features.

Like what?  To recapture the freshness, lightness, humor and user-friendliness of the original, we went back to our basic four-part structure of Style, Image, Sex and Tradition.  Out went the Popularity section, since so much of that information is now accessible instantly online.

We’ve added fresh advice and approaches to the challenges of naming a daughter and naming a son, new categories like Green Names, Powerboys and Metrodudes, Baby Gods and Goddesses, and Mixed-Marriage Names–hundreds of the kind of subjective lists we invented, pointing out not only current trends, but where they come from and where they’re going.

Finding the right name for our baby was a major challenge.  (The naming of The Baby Name Bible had been such a torturous process that we documented our struggle in an article in Publishers Weekly magazine.

We knew it was time to let go of our original title, since Jennifer and Jason are now the parents of the new generation of babies.  But which alliterative pairing to choose?  Among the many considered and rejected: Beyond Emily & Ethan, Beyond Addison & Aiden, Beyond Adam & Eva, Beyond Jayden & Jada, Beyond Miley & Max.

And then the latest popularity lists decided for us, with Ava and Aiden pulling ahead of all their trendy compatriots to become the Jennifer and Jason of today.

We can’t wait to hear what you think of the result.  And to give you more of a taste of what’s in the new book, we’ll be  posting excerpts every Friday through the summer, starting this week.

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