Opinion: What’s in a name?


Naming a child carries significant importance in most cultures. There are strict rules about how the labels are affixed and passed from one generation to the next. In some places, a person’s name includes information about parentage, point of origin and even expected profession. In the most proscriptive of these systems, parents have little choice and are greatly restrained in their creativity. For others, unique and uncommon nomenclature is valued and expected. Where one system would name a son after the father with a middle name being the surname of the mother, other communities would insist that a name be of no relationship to the progenitors in how it is spelled, relational or otherwise. Some assume the designation of a famed athlete, actor or politician. Others hope to be entirely distinctive.

Still, even with an abundance of thought and intention, the name game is fraught with incumbent risk. In naming their child after their grandfather, now deceased, how could the parents have known in 1950 that James Bond would haunt the kid for the rest of his life? Now, there must be countless Karens populating our fair planet who do not live lives consistent with the current pop-culture definition. And there are likely a few Adolfs, Stewies, Madonnas and Rihannas who bear little resemblance, or interest, in their more famed counterparts.  No doubt, they have spent a good deal of their lives helping folks to understand the difference.

So, how do we separate the Karens from the Karens? Do we pay as much attention as we should to the person and maybe just a little less to the label? The all-powerful Oz of AI tells us that she “is middle-class white woman who is perceived as entitled or demanding.” But what of the “middle-class white woman” who is not?