Last week, reading Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, first published 202 years ago, I encountered the following passage about the heroine Catherine’s sister Sally.
“Sally, or rather Sarah (for what young lady of common gentility will reach the age of sixteen without altering her name as far as she can)…”
The following day I received an email from my 12 year old daughter and noted at the top she now has a new name. This got me thinking.
I have numerous daughters, plus have (and still do) employ large numbers of young women, all mildly deranged and again, many, adopting usually rather silly names in lieu of the perfectly good ones on their birth certificates.
Given Jane Austen wrote of this phenomenon two centuries back, plainly it’s something genetical and thus ageless in the female make-up. The question is why?
Wearing my pop psychologist’s hat I suggest it’s the female equivalent of the male loser’s badge of tattoos, now regrettably the mark of underclass females as well.
Tattoos were always explicable. They were the domain of anyone in a group where any individuality was nullified by enforced regimentation. Thus they were characteristic of soldiers, sailors and incarcerated criminals, trying to create an identity in lieu of a number.
Their fashionable reemergence in the Western world in recent years has occurred hand in hand with wokeism and the regimentation of everyone’s thinking.
Both the female name-changing and male tattooing are failed unthinking cri de coeurs of “look at me; I’m different”, which of course, by their very imitative nature, sends a clear opposite message, as in their adherence to a group behavior mentality, they’re anything but.
Finally, before anyone writes, the situation is not always analogous to say Robert becoming Bob or Edward becoming Ted. For example, I was named Robert and addressed as Bob from the outset.