I spent a few minutes in the Baby Name Wizard discussion forums this morning as I ate my breakfast, and saw a comment containing a sentiment that I see with some regularity over there and that kind of irks me every time I see it:
“I think it’s totally lovely to honor a mother with a name for a change (I know lots of men who name their sons after themselves, either as juniors outright or using variant forms or middle names, but very few women who do so).”
I don’t even disagree with the comment! I know it’s more common for a dad to have a son named after himself than for a mom to have a daughter named after herself. And the commenter herself is one I highly respect, as her thoughts are *always* well balanced and fair. But I feel testy and defensive when I see things like “honor a mother with a name for a change” and “lots of men who name their sons after themselves” — probably because I feel like it’s a tentacle of a whole “down with the patriarchy!” thought process that usually includes the “old men in white hats in Rome.” Blah.
Anyway, my contrarian Rome-loving self immediately thought of lots of examples, old and new, of people (babies and olders) being named after women. My mom, for one example, was half named for her mom (I saw “half” because her mom’s name was Anne, and my grandfather wanted to name my mom Anne — imagine that! A man! Wanting to name his baby girl after his beloved wife! But my grandmother wanted to name her one of the names-of-the-day: Susan. So they compromised with Susanne). My sister has my mom’s name as one of her middle names. My paternal grandfather was given his mom’s maiden name as a first name. Before I had so many boys, I’d always planned to work one or more elements of my name into one or more of my daughters’ names.
Moving farther afield from moms naming daughters after themselves, my youngest son’s first name is for my mother-in-law and his middle name for my mom. Julianamama shared that she knows a dad with a great devotion to St. Margaret who named his son Garrett after her! (I died when I read that! Brilliant!)
I’ve done two posts (On my bookshelf: A Dictionary of English Surnames and Girl names turned surnames) highlighting how various surnames are originally metronymics (identifying a person by his or her mother), or diminutives of female first names that became surnames, or perhaps arising from religious devotion to a female saint — like Marriot (from Mary), Ebbetts (from Isabel), Scollas (from Scholastica, specifically for St. Scholastica, according to Reaney & Wilson), and Emmett (from Emma). All of these would be fine and interesting for a child to be named, and they’re all feminine in origin (even if the parents don’t realize it or it wasn’t their intent). And I did a couple posts on current men religious who took their Mother Mary’s name as part of their new religious names: Eleven new Dominican priests and Men Who Love Mary: MFVA (a whole Order of men who take Mary as part of their new name! And one had Therese as well!), never mind all the male saints with Mary in their names: St. Clement Mary/Maria Hofbauer (depending on what you’re reading), St. Maximilian Mary/Maria Kolbe, St. Anthony Mary Claret, St. Jean Marie Vianney, St. Josemaria Escriva … who else?
I’d love to know what stories you all have of moms naming their daughters or sons after themselves or similar family stories, and whether you know any Brothers or Priests with female saints’ names, or boys who have taken a female saint’s name for a Confirmation name. It’s not all oppression, people. (I’m done ranting now. 🙂 )