17 June 2008

Naming and Gender

I posted before about naming of children here in Italy. I encountered a blog post this morning about a court case that has gone to appeal about another naming issue. In this case, a couple is seeking to name their child, a girl, Andrea, which is usually a male name in Italy. Naming a child to be gender-appropriate is usually required, but this one has gone to appeal since Andrea is so widely a female name outside of Italy.

This raises all sorts of questions. What does it mean to name a child in gender-appropriate ways? Is this a cultural issue? Who decides what is "appropriate"? How would we deal with a world where all of the chromosomal combinations were recognized as genders? In an androgynous world? What if you opt for a name that is very rare and without a clear gender? In what ways do we owe it to children to protect their ability to get along with others well, socially, and in what ways do we feminists owe it to a changing future to challenge rigid gender norms? These are not idle questions, and they affect not only our understanding of naming, but of social responsibility, politics, and cultural adaptation.

No comments:

Works Cited

Fiona Wild, ed. Eyewitness Travel Rome (London: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 1993), 2007 edition.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Marble Faun. New York: Penguin Books, 1990/1860.

James, Henry. Daisy Miller. New York: Penguin Books, 2005/1878.

Powers, Alice Leccese. Italy in Mind: An Anthology. Toronto: Vintage Books, 1997.

Steves, Rick. Rick Steves' Italy 2007. New York: Avalon Travel Publishing, 2006.