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Gender neutral names

(48 Posts)
ReadyToPopAndFresh Sun 23-Feb-14 08:07:04

I've seen people make comments that if you dress or raise your child in a gender neutral way they "hope you all give your kids unisex names".

But I don't see the two as equal do you? Clothing has always been much more practical for boys where a name can't be practical or impractical (with in reasons) and I believe that if we go toward "gender neutral" names we won't actually get gender neutral we'll get boys names...and lose women's names and history.

We have a third child due soon and we we don;t know the sex. We have two names in mind both are very obviously one sex or another. The boys name I chose because I liked it.. I didn't over think it to be perfectly honest..Although I think it would be seen as a "strong" name by a lot of people due to historical connotations.

The girl's name I chose a strong female child character from a book I grew up loving and the 2 middle names are a.) after a good friend that I respect and b.) after a suffragette grin All names are "ultra feminine" by most people's definitions. And would probably not be seen as "strong" unless you knew all the context or maybe because they are women's names they would just be seen as pretty..iyswim?

but I don't want to love women's history by having it meld in to just men's history either and have us lose our identity? Sorry for being mostly rambling.. But if you understand what I mean, I'd love to hear your thoughts?

ReadyToPopAndFresh Sun 23-Feb-14 08:08:22

but I don't want to lose women's history

vestandknickers Sun 23-Feb-14 08:16:58

Why does your child have to be gender neutral? I really don't understand this. Surely any problems in society are not because there are two different genders but because the genders are not treated equally.

I am proud that I have a daughter. She is female and that is part of her identity. That doesn't mean she isn't just as strong, independent and intelligent as her brothers. My daughter does have quite a 'pretty' name. So what? Doesn't weaken her or demean in any way, it just means she has a beautiful name!

Minnieisthedevilmouse Sun 23-Feb-14 08:25:13

I don't get the agonising. Sorry. IMO it's the person that makes the name, their sensibilities, priorities, personality. Some of the strongest women in history have had feminine names. Of all the hindrances they had I'm not sure their name was the issue...?

I also find it odd that a parent trying to 'free' a child sets strong rules around how they will be thus removing personal choice and being as rigid as society just in an opposite way. IMO that's just one 'prison' for another. Not freedom.

Am looking for a chat here and willing to accept might well have missed a point you tried to make?

MrsBungle Sun 23-Feb-14 08:27:42

Absolutely nothing wrong with a feminine name, why would there be? I do think that the vast majority of 'gender neutral' names are not that at all and are just boys names.

ReadyToPopAndFresh Sun 23-Feb-14 09:07:44

No I'm not agonizing at all.. I believe in it, but hear it a lot. I do raise my children gender neutrally though and wondered if other people see that as hypocritical. Just interested to hear why if so.

I don't see dd and ds in a "gender neutral prison" though. They have all the toys other kids have. Pram/ doll house cars/ trucks/ blocks/ legos etc. I just get all colors and don't let them live in a pink or blue ghetto. But as they dont know the difference yet they aren;t being held back.

ReadyToPopAndFresh Sun 23-Feb-14 09:10:55

Also because they are little and share a room they don;t ask for things yet. So I just buy for them both and all toys are everybody's if that makes sense.

Martorana Sun 23-Feb-14 09:11:30

How do you raise your children gender neutrally? Have you found it works?

vestandknickers Sun 23-Feb-14 09:12:20

Surely how you raise you children is about more than just which toys you buy them.

ReadyToPopAndFresh Sun 23-Feb-14 09:15:10

They aren't in play groups or nursery yet. So yes, it works to a degree. I'm not naive enough to expect it to last past reception though sad DD has still managed to pick up that most super heroes are boys etc, so I have to work harder about finding crap with Super girl or Wonder woman on it! grin

They don't see any advertising. I'm careful about TV and movies they watch as well.

ReadyToPopAndFresh Sun 23-Feb-14 09:17:32

I mean she knows girls have vaginas. Boys have penises. The just don't know that the fact the she has a vagina and he has a penis will lead to different world expectations yet.

Minnieisthedevilmouse Sun 23-Feb-14 09:28:14

Er but neither does my 3 yr old? I'm just wondering what it is you think you are doing as special because they just sound like kids.... Why would a toddler know that?

slug Sun 23-Feb-14 09:28:41

Gender neutral names are very useful when it comes to job hunting. I have 2 friends with gender neutral names who have both reported going to interviews and being met with surprise that they are female. The interviewers were expecting men and it's entirely possible that unconscious sexism was going on at the selection for interview stage. There are studies that back up this idea, especially the one where an orchestra decided to audition behind screens and suddenly found women musicians were considered excellent enough to employ when the auditioners were't aware of their gender.

This is one of the reasons DD is Alexandra. She can put Alex on her CV.

Martorana Sun 23-Feb-14 09:31:46

Call me an old cynic if you like- and I'm sure you're very mindful of this, OP- but in my experience, "gender neutral" tends to mean "default to male".

Certainly when it comes to names. And our views about what girls wear and play with are so entrenched, when it comes to clothes and toys as well.

ReadyToPopAndFresh Sun 23-Feb-14 10:47:44

How nice for you Minnie, I didn't say I was doing anything special. I disagreed I was putting my child in to a "gender neutral prison" by not buying specifically gendered items hmm

I know a lot of people who parade their little girls around in pink glitter tops that say pretty princess on them and their sons in shirts that say "future astronaut". It does make a difference IMO.

Anyway I'm not really interested in debating that (it's been done to death, I just wanted to talk about names). So I'll leave you to it.

slug You know that did come in to my mind, and I have read that too. But I also felt like I shouldn't have to conform to someone's prejudice? But then am I doing her a disservice? I have an aunt (not in the UK) who puts her picture on CVs. She black and she does it so that she doesn't waste her time going to interviews with people who she thinks that would be an issue for.. so would dd get a job anyway? It's a good point though.

martorna I do my best to not default to male. I try and go for the most practical. Like little boys in tights etc, it's one of the rare items where female clothes make sense iMO. But in normal life I try and buy dolls and things that were seen as traditionally female toys too.. just not the pink glittery versions? And like dd has all the super heroes undewear, batman, batgirl, superwomman, wonderwoman, spiderman.. And they will all get passed down to ds. It's easy to make boy default I try really hard not to. Clothes are all bright colors, I don;t just stick them in trucks and digger tshirts. But again don;t really want to go in to the gender neutral debate.. just about names! smile

Martorana Sun 23-Feb-14 10:53:12

Shame you don't want to debate- it sounds really interesting!

But my views on the "default to male" applies very strongly to names. All so called "unisex" names are either only recently names at all or are names that started as male and have been "passed down" to girls. And,incidentally often stop being boys names- or become slightly laughable boys names - once they are identified a female (a boy called Joscelyn, anyone?) So for that reason alone I wouldn't use them.

But also, I think girls should be brought up to be proud of being women, and have names that identify them as women.

ReadyToPopAndFresh Sun 23-Feb-14 10:59:11

martorna that is how I feel too which is why I decided to give an obviously female name to dd, I do feel like all the supposedly unisex names are actually boys names hmm

Minnieisthedevilmouse Sun 23-Feb-14 12:58:27

Don't know why you're cross. I was hoping for enlightenment and maybe learning something.

You though aren't doing that. You're just using a masculine name or putting a boy in tights or not buying a pink tshirt. I don't see either as gender neutral. Just maybe putting the child in the line of being 'odd' or with an 'odd' mum. They notice as you spot things at three which I'm unsure I thought they would.

These are your beliefs being placed on your child. I guess I don't see that as different than patriarchy being placed or any other ideology? I actually thought there was a debate in there somewhere in all of that.

I too would like strong females, I'm unsure that a name limits them. Never stopped women before so why now do people think it does? Doesn't make sense yet to me.

vestandknickers Sun 23-Feb-14 13:51:26

Minnie I agree with you - I really don't understand ReadytoPop's reasoning and it all seems a bit half baked.

What on earth do you hope to achieve by putting a boy in tights?

My DD has always chosen to play with trucks or dinosuars over Barbies, but that isn't because I'm imposing any sort of gender neutrality on her. It is because she is an individual and as such is able to make choices. I happen to think if she had chosen the sparkly tops and the My Little Ponies she would still have grown up to be the same intelligent, spirited, amazing person.

I believe we make strong women through the homes they grow up in, the aspirations we have for ourselves and for them and the opportunities they are afforded. I really don't think the ephemera that you are concentrating on make the slightest bit of difference. Maybe I'm wrong though. Like Minnie I await enlightenment!

TheSmallClanger Sun 23-Feb-14 14:15:08

The advantage of having a gender-neutral name only works for women. Ambiguous names on men, like Lindsay or Ashley, don't have the same effect.

I go by a diminutive of my middle name that is often described on the Baby Names board as being too girly for an adult woman. It hasn't held me back. I am not overly, outwardly feminine, either.

LimeMiniPumpkin Sun 23-Feb-14 16:18:01

I think gender neutral parenting means different things to different people. I can see that some people don't like specific extremes of masculinity of femininity, but that is not the same thing as being gender neutral. I didn't dress DS in a lot of very masculine boys clothes as a young child because I don't personally like them. That is a matter of personal choice.

I would say that the entire world of superheroes is a stereotypical masculine world and interest. In fact, with the exception of Spider Man, male superheroes are hypermasculine in appearance and behaviour. While there are female superheroes, they very much exist in a male culture.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with liking them, but to have those very masculine interests for preschoolers, and then be avoiding the very feminine areas of 'pink and sparkly' - my little pony and similar, where most of the characters are female, is most definitely not gender neutral parenting. It is parenting where masculine culture is given preference over feminine culture, and I do not think that is a good thing for girls. But of course I can't know what is happening in someone else's family from a couple of posts, but as another poster has said, gender neutral is often a cover for hostility towards femininity.

ChunkyPickle Sun 23-Feb-14 17:02:52

What on earth do you hope to achieve by putting a boy in tights?

In my experience - warm feet and no lost socks (applies to babies/toddlers - or older kids on bonfire night)

ReadyToPopAndFresh Sun 23-Feb-14 17:10:02

Sorry, not offering parenting advice or enlightenment today. It's FWR so I like to keep it on topic (you get a lot of people trying to derail threads in this topic...)

But if you're struggling or concerned the above links will get you through

HTH smile

TSC I'm curious what your name is now! <nosy> It's weird (if you spend enough time over in the baby names section) finding out what baggage comes a long with a name for people.

AmberSpyglass Sun 23-Feb-14 17:41:09

Honestly, OP, putting a boy in tights so he isn't perpetually pulling his socks off and getting cold feet! You weirdo! you're obviously just doing it to prove some half baked point grin

Re names, I agree that so called unisex names are male names that are considered acceptable for girls, its rarely the other way around. Have you met any little boys called Hilary, recently, for instance.

I don't think a name needs to be gender neutral, IMO, if there is such a thing. I suppose there's an argument for whether a girl would be taken seriously if she had a very "girly" , sparkly sort of name, like pixie, or posy or something. But is that going to hold her back?

I would just go for a name I loved

ReadyToPopAndFresh Sun 23-Feb-14 17:49:56

Tbf amber I am full of half baked points grin although warm toes is one of the least controversial I would have thought

Good point about Hillary.. especially as I think it used to be a male name (spelled Hilary or Hillary) but yes, now that women use it most people wouldn't see it as "suitable" for a boy would they? hmm Depressing isn't it?

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