Friday, August 28, 2009

How to name your children

The old ways of automatically naming the children with the father's family name is sexist and unfair.

We can do better.

But before we get into the ideal solution, let's first take a look at some ideas that do not work.
  • Name the child after the mother
    Just as unfair as automatically naming the child after the father, though one might make a claim for it as making up for thousands of years of lost female heritage
  • Hyphnated names
    First, we still have the problem of whose name comes first. More importantly, the problem is that it is not a scalable solution. The name length will be on an exponential growth curve.
  • Let the child choose between the two last names when they are old enough
    As a person who has lived in the world with three seperate names, I can attest to the impact a name can have on an individual's life. A person's name should be one of the lasting gifts that the parents can give a child, it is not romantic enough of a notion for me to choose this option. Plus, it can put the child in an awkward position of having to pick favorites.
  • Make up a new name
    Having a sense of history, and connection to the past is one of the main features of having a family name in the first place. This seem to defeat the purpose of a family name.
  • Put the mother's name as a middle name
    Unfair. Sexist.
Here is my proposal:

Name the daughters after the mother, and the sons after the fathers.

  • It is fair.
  • It preserves a sense of history.
If everyone took up this naming scheme, let us say a Jane Smith and a John Doe were to have children together, there could be a proud lineage of Smith women before and to follow Jane, and also a proud lineage of Doe men.

Why should we continue to accept that everytime a woman marries and reproduces, the history of her name and family gets absorbed into the men's lineage?

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