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Names and “Doing Gender”: How Forenames and Surnames Contribute to Gender Identities, Difference, and Inequalities

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posted on 2017-07-12, 13:32 authored by Jane Pilcher
Names, as proper nouns, are clearly important for the identification of individuals in everyday life. In the present article, I argue that forenames and surnames need also to be recognized as “doing” words, important in the categorization of sex at birth and in the ongoing management of gender conduct appropriate to sex category. Using evidence on personal naming practices in the United States and United Kingdom, I examine what happens at crisis points of sexed and gendered naming in the life course (for example, at the birth of babies, at marriage, and during gender-identity transitions). I show how forenames and surnames help in the embodied doing of gender and, likewise, that bodies are key to gendered practices of forenaming and surnaming: we have “gendered embodied named identities.” Whether normative and compliant, pragmatic, or creative and resistant, forenaming and surnaming practices are revealed as core to the production and reproduction of binary sex categories and to gendered identities, difference, hierarchies, and inequalities.

Funding

Copyright © the authors, 2017. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

History

Citation

Sex Roles, 2017

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/Department of Sociology

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Sex Roles

Publisher

Springer Verlag (Germany)

issn

0360-0025

eissn

1573-2762

Acceptance date

2017-05-24

Available date

2017-07-12

Publisher version

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11199-017-0805-4

Language

en

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