Leave some names for the boys, please!

One of the naming trends which annoys many name nerds to no end is the constant co-opting of established male names for girls. I have no problem with unisex names like Dale or Drew, or even with accepting that some formerly male names have mostly crossed over to the female side, but let’s leave some names for the boys.

I strongly believe in raising children as people, not rigid stereotypes erroneously based on biological sex. If I have a daughter, I’m not going to put one of those bands around her bald head so everyone can immediately know she’s a girl and not a boy. I intend to raise any kids I have in a very gender-neutral way, without forcing boys to wear clothes with trains and footballs or decorating a girl’s room that looks like Disney Princesses vomited all over it. But names are a different story from other gender-neutral manifestations.

When you take more than a few names away from the boys and give them to girls, it creates a much smaller name pool for boys. Some names that have largely made the switch, like Ashley, Courtney, and Meredith, never sounded that strongly masculine to begin with. But other male names, like William, Aidan, Dylan, Tyler, and Owen, sound completely ridiculous on girls. What is going on upstairs when you gushingly declare that those names sound “cute” on girls?

When you’re looking over someone’s résumé or responding to an e-mail, and you see a name like Mackenzie, Madison, Taylor, Jordan, or Dylan, you can no longer assume that’s it’s from a male. It’s embarrassing to have to ask someone, “Are you a man or a woman?” or to use the wrong title.

Contrary to tryndy belief, a y does nyt myke a nyme fymynyne. It just makes you look illiterate, or like you didn’t know about any established female names.

Many people say they like co-opting male names for girls because they sound “strong.” So you think traditional female names are weak by virtue of being female? Do you think women like Queen Elizabeth I, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, or Eleanor Roosevelt would’ve been more kick-ass if only they’d had “strong” male names like John, Henry, David, or William?

As a Lucy Stoner, I give no credence to the sexist, double-standard argument about what happens if Taylor Smith marries a man named Robert Taylor. She can easily stay Taylor Smith, just as her husband could choose to become Robert Smith. And if a woman has a child named Cameron as a single mother, gives the child her surname, and then marries a man with the surname Cameron, her child’s name won’t suddenly be Cameron Cameron. It’s truly baffling to me, as it was to my mother in the Seventies, how so many people in the U.S. still think women have no choice but to give up their birth names for marriage. That’s not the “tradition” in a lot of other countries!

There are so many wonderful girls’ names to choose from, including many with very strong associations and meanings. Why not use one of them instead of giving your daughter a very masculine name like Brandon, Jason, William, Elliott, Emerson, or Ryan?  You don’t think a name like Octavia, Beatrice, Ingrid, Leona, Miriam, or Emilia sounds strong?


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