Category: gender and 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.
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.
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.
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.
1845. The Irish famine sends masses of Bridgets and Patricks to America.
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.
1974. The first issue of People magazine accelerates fascination with celebrity culture, parents start to be increasingly influenced by names stars give their babies.
2000. The Internet inspires parents to search genealogy sites for old family names.
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.
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.