The view from the farm


The taint of femininity
May 6, 2011, 9:03 pm
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Lynn, Hilary, Joyce, and Courtney used to be considered perfectly good names for a boy baby.  Not any more.

Those who name babies borrowed those names from the blue column, putting them over on the pink side as well.  And once a name is even 10% attached to pale pink, no parent wants to give a baby boy even a tiny hint of it.

Let’s cut to the chase.  Here’s what I think it boils down to — men can’t be even a little bit feminine.  Women don’t have that problem with masculinity.

News flash, huh?  I know, I know, and Francisco Franco is still dead, too.  It’s just that I keep thinking we’ve gotten beyond that.

Jonathan and I used to think we were making great strides for the unpigeonholing of the sexes when we put our oldest son in a hand-me-down pink onesie.  When strangers admired the cute baby and asked his name, they were horrified to hear that it was Patrick.  But when either of his sisters wore blue, that was just fine.

Our sons had dolls as well as teddy bears, and our daughters were ferociously competitive soccer players.  Real men do cry, and real women do change tires.  Heck, Jonathan stayed home with our kids for most of their youth.  He’s a registered nurse and was the one to suggest that we hyphenate our names, which makes him super-feminine, right?  Not so much.

Why is it that women can wear pants and wear their hair very short without anybody batting an eye?  But if a man appears in public in a kilt with longish hair, he has to explain himself over and over.

Years ago, a little girl at my kids’ school cut her finger during the gardening class that I was teaching.  I told her to sit tight for just a sec and I would get my husband the nurse to check it out.  That was one of the best things I could have done, apparently, because it took her mind off the pain.  She roared with laughter.   “Men can’t be nurses!” she finally explained to me when I didn’t get the joke.  Her mom and dad were both doctors, but they hadn’t thought to explain to her that things cut both ways.

I should have seen this coming when Jonathan was the only man in his nursing school’s graduating class.  There were about 100 graduates, seems to me.  Our double-barrelled last name is so long that his first name was often cut off to become Jonatha — at least I think that’s why it was cut off.  Maybe somebody in the registrar’s office thought that all nursing students were women and so “Jonathan” was a typo.

Our family practitioner has just welcomed his third baby to the family.  He and his wife already had a boy and a girl, so there isn’t even a perceived need for them to use a masculine name for the baby, right?  Her name is Vaughn Catherine, or something spelled very similar to it.  Vaughn is not a family name.  And if she had been a boy, she would have been Elliott.

It is absolutely none of my business what they name their baby any more than it is my business if people eat the inedible, such as Brussels sprouts.  I’m just puzzled.  Why is it okay for a girl baby to have a boy’s name but not the other way around?

What’s so horrible about femininity, anyway?