Readers, it’s become obvious to me as of late that I’ve got a rather confusing dilemma. It involves my name. Although I am named after my mother-my first name is her middle name, and my middle name is her first name-it is a name that has, over the last couple of decades, become popular as a man’s name.
I didn’t realize it until I was an adult. I’d never even known anyone, male or female, with my name until I was in my early twenties. It was around then I started to meet some folks randomly who shared my name. However, they were all men. I haven’t cared much about it until recently. It’s been fun telling telemarketers there is no Mr. Donnell Jeansonne living at my residence. But recently I had to make a call regarding my son, and I was asked by the person on the other end of the phone, “You’re a she?” And lately I’m receiving correspondences from magazine editors and such addressed to Mr. Donnell Jeansonne. Yet I am very much a Mrs! Should I take the advice of some and change my name? I don’t really want to. I like having a unique name. It fits my personality.
From what I’ve read, though, I’m not in bad company. Best selling author Anne Rice’s real name is Howard, after her father, I’ve read. The website Girl2Watch.com lists the following female celebrities with male names in their article 15 Female Celebs with Guy Names: Alex Kingston, Cameron Diaz, Chris Evert, Drew Barrymore, Glenn Close, Fergie, Jami Gertz, Hayden Panitierre, James King, Jeri Ryan, Jordin Sparks, Peyton List, Scottie Thompson, Reese Witherspoon, and Sean Young. Not that I think I’ll ever become a female celebrity with a guy name, but it’s at least comforting to know there are successful women with names not matching a conventional moniker of their gender. It’s also been discovered that female lawyers with masculine names are more successful, make more money, and are more likely to be appointed to judgeships. I’m certainly no lawyer. But I could always create a fictional one.
I’m insulted by the assumption of others that I am male simply because of my name. Not so much because they assume I am a man, because I could care less about that. But because I am being stereotyped, placed into their convenient standardized packaging. It’s why I don’t want to change my name. It’s mine. It wasn’t given to me without thought and sentiment. And it’s how I’ve identified myself for over three decades.
Now while writing this a thought came to me. I could always use my first and middle name together, thereby maybe helping others to understand that I am in fact a woman-with a man’s name. What do you think? Would the name Donnell Maria Jeansonne better illustrate my gender to those reading my name without the ability to see my face or hear my voice? Should I change my name altogether and choose a different name? Should I just say who cares and correct others who assume I’m a male?
Would a Donnell by any other name smell as sweet?