Sunday, 7 July 2013

The Great Katie Hopkins Debate: Should We Judge Based On Names?

A few days ago, a minor-celebrity named Katie Hopkins appeared on daytime TV to give her thoughts and opinions on a controversial subject - as she does most weeks. 

However, on this occasion, Katie's words about childrens names have riled up an awful lot of people and the story has been discussed at length across social media sites and in the press.

If you missed this, and want to take a look at what caused the furore for yourself, you can do so by viewing the video below:

Now since this TV appearance, people have been up in arms about Katie's sweeping generalisations of both the classes and the names bestowed upon children.

As somebody with a long-standing interest in and love of names, and the reasons that people choose the names they do for their children - I find this debate to be so very interesting for many reasons.

Firstly - Katie states that she can make a character assessment of a child purely from hearing their first name (She was very careful to side-step the surname question, wise move! There's a can of worms you don't want to open Katie...)

The name she seems to hold particular venom for being "Tyler" - at first hearing this, I wondered why she judged the name Tyler so harshly. I have met perhaps five children called Tyler in my lifetime (And as somebody who is an NNEB qualified childcare worker having worked in many nurseries, schools, after-school clubs, creches and as a nanny - I have worked with hundreds of children and come across all manner of names. Tyler not being a particularly common choice, it makes me wonder why this particular name is such an issue for her) - none of them stand out in my mind much for any reason. 
 None of them were particularly naughty, particularly unintelligent, particularly lower class - nor were they particularly intelligent, particularly upper class or particularly well-behaved. 
They were just normal children.

It could be that Katie has herself met a particularly monsterous child named Tyler and therefore the name has been forever tarnished in her mind - this can happen to all of us after all. I personally don't despise the name "Emil" which my mother suggested to me as a possible name for my son when I was pregnant - but I worked with a very very difficult child named Emil once and now whenever I hear that name, I picture that child and am reminded of how irritating he was - and so the name is tarnished to me.

Of course that doesn't mean that I am silly enough to think that every child named Emil will have the same behavioral issues that this particular one did - but yes, the name is somewhat ruined for me and so I wouldn't use it.

Of course - the other possibility could be that its the meaning of the name Tyler that Katie judges so harshly - Tyler is an old English name which means "Maker of Tiles". 

This being a working class job - is THIS the real reason that Katie has such an issue with the name?

Other names that are regularly mentioned during the clip are Chardonnay and Chantelle - Chantelle is a French name which means "Singer" - I personally don't see why this name is so problematic or indicative of class - would she not simply assume that the childs parents were of French heritage or perhaps had a particular love of singing? 
Or is it the names association with glamour model celebrities that she is judging?
Of course, famous bearers of a name can certainly give people a tainted view of it - probably the reason that you're not very likely to meet many Adolf's or Sadam's!!

My real problem comes from Katie assuming that she can assess somebodys class and parenting abilities by the names they give to their children.

Perhaps certain names are more likely to be heard in certain places - I wouldn't expect to find a great deal of   Monty's or Astrid's on a council estate in Glasgow, nor would I expect to find too many Brooklyn's or Ellie-May's in Knightsbridge.

But that doesn't mean that they don't exist! Nothing stops any parent from giving any name to their child - and so when Katie's child comes home from school and announces that they have made friends with a lovely girl called Brandii - how on Earth does Katie know that this child is automatically the child of lower working class parents? And even if she was, how does Katie know that this automatically means that Brandii would be a troubled child with behavioral problems and no future? Is she for real?!! 

For example.....David Beckham does not strike me as somebody who is likely to be very familiar with literary classics such as "To Kill A Mockingbird" yet his daughter Harper is named after the author - does this mean that David Beckham must automatically be a very intelligent person? Or did they just arm themselves with Google and hunt down an intelligent name?!

And how about Savannah? Katie is dead against using place names as first names - so surely this name, taken from Savannah in Georgia, is one on Katie's "DO NOT BEFRIEND" list - so I assume that this means she would NOT be happy for her children to befriend the likes of Savannah Phillips, Great-Grandaughter of the Queen, because her name suggests that she is from the lower classes?!

However - although I absolutely do NOT agree with any of Katie's view points - I have to point out that she is, unfortunately, far from alone in her thoughts.

I chose to name my son Tyne - we chose this name mostly because we just like the sound of it and we thought it sounded nice with his surname - it sounded to us like a strong, heroic sort of name. One that would be quite "cool" when he is a teenager. I personally imagine a teenaged boy named Tyne to be the kid that everybody wants to be like! But that's just my own opinion....

Other people, and I'm sure Katie would be one of them, judge the name harshly because it is taken from the River Tyne - this has relevance to us because Tyne's Dad is from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and so the river is near where he grew up and honours his roots.
Tyne's Liverpudlian roots are already accounted for in that his Liverpudlian family are around him all the time, but as he has no family from the North East left alive - it seems fitting to work that part of his history into his name.

But despite our reasons for choosing the name, and the insane amount of time we put into deciding on it, it still comes under fire very often - infact on the very day that the Katie Hopkins story came out, my Mum commented on Tyne's name being horrible and being a "chav" name because "all names that are the name of a place are chavy". 

In fact, I think if we're honest - every single one of us is guilty of judging someone's name at some point.

For example - Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have been endlessly criticized for naming their daughter North recently as people find it ridiculous given that her surname is West - I have to admit, I sniggered at it myself!

But when you actually hear their reason for choosing the name - they chose it because North is the highest point, and this little girl is the highest point in their lives - it is actually very sweet.

The same goes for former Playboy Girlfriend Holly Madison - when she gave birth a few months ago to her daughter Rainbow she was met with extreme criticism for choosing such a fluffy and silly "celebrity" name - but Holly explained that as a child she had gone to school with a girl called Rainbow and had always admired it, as it made her smile and think of happy things.
I'm sure all of us can relate to this - I know that their were children I met in my childhood whose names stood out to me that I loved - so if this is the case and it's a name that Holly has always admired, who are we to judge her and accuse her of picking a typical celebrity-type name?

The next major baby naming event the world will see is of course, the birth of William & Kate's baby - and while I am certain that there will be a traditional name chosen - wouldn't it be SO much fun if they decided to name the future monarch Tyler?!!!
Oh how I would love to see Katie Hopkins reaction to that! Would you allow your precious children to play with a Tyler then Katie?!

In closing I will say this - I hope and pray that the parents of the children who attend school with Katie Hopkins kids are not as judgemental as she is - because if they are, I think she'll find that her children will suffer a very hard time thanks to her choosing to throw her outdated opinions around with more thought for increasing her own profile by any means necessary (Any publicity is good publicity - if Samantha Brick taught us anything its that!) than for her own children and what backlash they may have to face on her behalf.

Spare a thought for her children -  poor Poppy, Maximillian and India.....yes that's right know, like the COUNTRY.....

What are your thoughts on the Katie Hopkins debate? Do you agree with any of her points? Have you ever judged a name? Have you come under criticism for your own choice of name? As always, I'd love to hear from you!

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