Thursday, November 11, 2010

What's in a unisex name?

Last year I looked into why Israelis love unisex names. The consensus amongst the experts to whom I spoke was that it was far more common for boys' names to become appropriate for both genders than for girls' names; and that this was a reflection on the patriarchal nature of Israeli society, where manliness is admired.

So I am rather intrigued to see that gender-neutral names are also becoming more common in American society. However, there is a crucial difference. As one parent explains it:
"Among my generation of parents, our nontraditional boys’ names—vaguely androgynous, nonmacho, or just plain unique—reflect our own desire to raise sons who will be as comfortable pushing dolls in strollers as pushing trucks,” said Deborah Siegel, Ph.D., author of Sisterhood, Interrupted and founding partner of SheWrites, whose 1-year-old son is named Teo.
So, while Israelis are trying to 'toughen up' their daughters through their names, Americans are trying to neuter their sons. "My name is Sue, how do you do" - coming soon to an American suburb near you.

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