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Thread: Names and Careers
February 15th, 2012 12:35 AM #1
Names and Careers
I have seen several posts over the past year which are troubling to me. It seems there is still a very large stereotype about names and careers, and names preventing people from having certain careers. I just replied to a thread in which this was addressed, and I want to open up this can of worms in a thread of its own.
(Note: This discussion pertains to names which are fairly standard, feminine names, as my concern here is why some parents avoid choosing names that are traditionally or inherently feminine because they "Can't see a CEO or President bearing that moniker." Tryndee/Kreatif/etc. names have their own set of problems in this category, and those problems aren't related to their femininity.)
I think it's horsefeathers that is believed that a woman with a name like Primrose, Alessandra, Effie, or the like can't do or be whatever she wants to do or be in life, or that she won't be taken seriously.
Basically, I'm issuing a call to arms. We do not have to conform to a patriarchal paradigm to be taken seriously. We do not have to put aside our femininity to be powerful. Our daughters do not have to be named androgynous or masculine names just to ensure they will be successful if they choose to enter corporate or political arenas. There is nothing wrong with a powerful woman having a feminine or girly name. If you like those names, then by all means, use them. Likewise, if you like androgynous or masculine names, use them. But don't be a part of the group that says being traditionally girly/soft/feminine is weak. We must stop handicapping women by participating in the promoting of the patriarchal paradigm that says all things masculine are good and powerful and all things feminine are weak and unimportant.
Being feminist and forward-thinking doesn't mean we must slough off girly things and make ourselves fit into a masculine paradigm. It's about equality for all--so Taffy, Posey, and Prim are just as viable as names for CEOs and Presidents as are Addison, Emory, and Ruth. One of the most powerful women I know goes by Candy--and by age 30, she had a BA in history and music, an MA in political science, a law degree, and most of a PhD in English (which she is about to complete at 32). She is licensed to practice law in two states and taught at two universities while working on her degrees. On top of that, she is also an entrepreneur and an amateur actress, and though she could choose to go by Candace, she calls herself Candy with pride. She is not embarrassed or even concerned that her name is not "substantial" enough because she herself is.
Therefore, I say choose a name you like for your daughter. Don't worry about that name keeping her from being the next president. If she wants to be president or CEO of a major corporation, a feminine name won't be the thing that holds her back.
/step down from soapbox.
(I base a lot of thinking on Simone de Beavoir's discussion of The Second Sex, where she explains that making the genders equal under the law doesn't mean one gender conform to the other--it just means that we are acknowledging the legitimacy of both and saying that the law should be blind to gender. This is an oversimplification of her work, but it's basically saying that we've allowed the feminine to be viewed as being of less value than the masculine, and even feminists are guilty of this, and that this must be stopped.)Current Favorites
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February 15th, 2012 12:44 AM #3
I absolutely agree with everything you have written.
February 15th, 2012 12:47 AM #5Senior Member
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February 15th, 2012 08:42 AM #7
February 15th, 2012 08:47 AM #9
February 15th, 2012 09:43 AM #11
I really appreciate this post. I too have noticed comments on nameberry about the restriction of some name-wearers to carry a serious career. My experience is that i have a one-syllable, boring, plain, unisex name. Before I retired to become full time mom, I was a VP level in marketing at a male dominated fortune 500 corporation. Branding was king and I feel like my name did not fit with my brand. The feminity and creativity I brought to the table served me well. When i had my daughter i probably went overboard in giving her 2 spunky names: gigi nickname for ginger. I hope for her to be smart and self-assured but I also want her to be creative and feisty like i was in my career. I guess my point is that successful women do not hide their femininty but embrace and use it to achieve their goals.
February 15th, 2012 09:48 AM #13
I too agree. Thanks for saying this so eloquently!Pam Satran
February 15th, 2012 10:34 AM #15
Is that comment at the beginning in reference to my comment about Primrose not working on a president?
I guess others make comments and mean exactly what you have referenced, but I think you might have misunderstood what I was trying to say. More power to the parents who want to use Primrose or anything else fanciful, I say. As long as it's feminine and legitimate. I would love to meet a wonderful powerhouse businesswoman (or any type of professional, really!) with the name. When I made that comment all I was saying was that as lovely as she is, and as much as I would love to use her, Primrose is just too cutesy and fanciful for me as a FN. I can't imagine it on a college student, much less a school teacher or a lawyer, not to mention a president. Should that keep other parents from using it? Absolutely not. It's a fabulous name, and its girliness is what draws me to it. I'd actually been considering it for my own list until I posted that comment and realized how I felt about it specifically.
I agree with what you're saying that parents shouldn't have to give their girls masculine names to be respected in their field. I would love to be proved wrong. I have absolutely nothing against parents who give their daughters uber-girly names and have high hopes for their professional futures. In fact, I plan on giving my own daughters very girly names. I have a unisex name and hate that aspect of my name. I would have loved to have a name like Liliana or Juliet and would have born it proudly...
I'm not exactly a feminist but I don't think women should have to resort to using boys' names just to be accepted in the professional world, either. In fact, the idea seems ludicrous to me.
I'm not so naive as to think this whole post was about one small comment I said, but I figured you might like an explanation. I am glad you posted this, too--hopefully other parents will see it and will find this helpful.Ashley
twenty-something name lover dreaming of adoption.
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February 15th, 2012 10:48 AM #17Senior Member
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Just chiming in - I am a small cog in a huge corporation, but the women at the top have all sorts of names, mostly typical names of their generations. Being named Diane or Pamela did not hold any of them back. I've used the company directory for baby name research so I could see if there were any patterns.I type on an iPhone and take no responsibility for typos, auto-correction, or strange grammar in my posts.
February 15th, 2012 12:10 PM #19
As much as I hate to say this, names don't matter. It's true. They don't. The only way they matter is that we link our identities to them. But guess what? Our names have already been issued to us by that point. We don't come out of the womb with name stereotypes, and our identity is already being set in place by the time we form these "people with girly names are girly" sentiments. The person makes the name. Whatever preconceived notions we have about certain names are thrown out the window once we meet someone with a particular name. Take Candy, for instance. Just the fact that you felt you needed to use her as an example means that this name is easily stereotyped. However, those notions were dismissed when you got to know her. Did you take Candy less seriously before you got to know her? If you were on an admissions board at a university and saw the name "Candy" on her file, would you form ideas of her before you got to know her? If not, then great. That's awesome. But the point is, some people do. Name stereotypes, like most other stereotypes won't go away, they just change over time. With the resurgence of "old lady names", they are soon going to be seen as the typical teenager name and names like Britney and Ashley are going to be the new "old lady names". And maybe Candy will one day become synonymous with power and influence. But until that day, people are still going to view it as a stereotype (unless, like you, they know someone who is an exception to the rule). So don't discount people who choose to forego a name they like because they think it is too feminine or frilly, because while they may be playing into the stereotype, they're just doing what they feel is best. And isn't that something we should encourage?My girls: Grace Patricia "Gracie Pat" & Eloise Martha "Elsie Mae"
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