What’s in a name? I have lived my life with a not super common name. It has it’s pros and cons. I never really have hung out with anybody with the same name. I have always joked that “Brandy” isn’t a grandmother name. Just seems so weird. Also being a female engineer, I don’t think people were expecting that when they introduced themselves to me. Then almost a year ago, I found another. A new mommy like me with a passion for the F word and sarcasm coming out the ass. Meet Brandee…or 3B…or Babe_Chilla to the interweb crowd. She blogs over at Chill Mama Chill and also is a contributor on my new love, Liberating Working Moms. She totally feels my pain. I asked her to write a post about being a Brandee and what I got back made me ROFL but then go, yup…she is right. It has made me who I am…unpredictable 🙂 So without further ado, check it:
Once, a long while ago, I wrote a blog post on my old pregnancy blog about names. We were deep into the war on names; my husband throwing out suggestions that made me think he was trying to name a golden retriever, and me going way over my veto quotient. It was hard. Names are hard. You’re giving them to your child as a gift, and in so doing, potentially setting a trajectory for their lives. This isn’t a laughing matter; it isn’t a nursery paint colour or a trendy diaper bag, it’s a name. It’s the identifier they will carry around with them for all of their days.
Names are a big deal. People love them, they hate them, they have unwarranted opinions about how you use them. People agonize over them, they keep them a secret and throw death stares if someone else “steals” them (ehm, no I never did this). And if we’re being honest, I’ve contemplated having 8 more children because that’s how many names I have lingering on that “list” from when I was pregnant, that I’d really like to use. Both the husband and I are THRILLED at the name we chose for our daughter (Everly Delilah) but it was a long road to get there. He has what I’d call a “normal” name and erred on the side of conservative for the most part. I am not that way, but we managed.
The one thing I KNEW when I was naming our daughter was that, while I liked original names, I didn’t like my name. I’m a Brandee, which means my parents didn’t think simply naming me after a boozey sounding stripper was enough; they had to up the bimbo quotient by throwing the double E at the end. Seriously, how high WERE they (don’t answer that).
As an adult (no seriously, the law says I’m one) I have learned to actually kind of like my name, and its spelling. It’s unique at least, and so rarely do I hear “like the drink?” or “I had a basset hound named Brandy” anymore. However, as a kid, tween, teen and young adult, I can honestly say it plagued me.
It plagued me because people laughed at it ALL THE TIME. I’ve even developed a Pavlovian type response to that “like the drink?” question where I immediately reach out and punch the person in the throat. It’s really annoying. Words are words, and some mean more than one thing. I’ve never met a person named Matt and said “like the thing I use to wipe my feet by the door?” so I’d expect the same courtesy.
As I got older, I grew a thick enough skin to just ignore the people making constant jests at my name and its relation to an alcohol I find so vile. However, as I got older the problems with my name started to become more serious. What I thought was so devastating as a child – the teasing, the harassing, the songs they made up to increase the hilarity in their cruelness, was quickly replaced with a real problem. As an actual adult the problem is that no one takes me serious.
No really, I’m serious. Do you see what I mean?
It’s just assumed that I am a fucking bimbo, and a slutty one at that. Clearly I am a stripper, with the intellect of a small ass licking dog and the chastity of Heidi Fleiss. Being named such a tramp name means I never could have overcome the urge to get breast implants and give blow jobs for a living, and I have certainly never given any thought to being careful about whom I open my legs for or how short my skirt is. No, as someone with a name like alcohol, I am surely lacking self-worth or modestly.
I know you think I’m being dramatic, but I’m not.
I’ve spent my entire life fighting the discrimination of my name. I know that sound stupid, and as a young, middle class white girl living in Canada, I am in NO WAY going to lay claim to fighting a real battle here. What I’m saying is that people are far too quick to judge a person by something they have no control over. When my real name is said, start to end, middle and all, it REALLY doesn’t help. It morphs from call girl to porn star, and that’s really unfortunate. All that means is that I’m even more aware of how difficult it can be. When I was of “bar going” age (like when I was 19 and childless and without real responsibility) and I used to go out, boys would talk to me; that’s just what happens. More often than not, I could SEE the look on their face change when I informed them my name was Brandee. It went from “I wonder if this chick would go home with me” to “I bet I could nail her in the bathroom”. This change in tone, approach and respect never happened to my BFF of the time. Maybe this has to do with my outgoing nature, or maybe it has to do with the name I was given. The one that is so often associated with someone with a shady moral compass.
A lot of this has to do with the media I’m sure. When was the last time you saw a prostitute on television named something like Katherine? It’s always Candy/Sandy/Brandy…I guess it has something to do with that E sound. So I seriously GET it. Us Brandy’s are more often than not portrayed as whorish; the first to die in a slasher flick or debut in a porno. No matter where you look, the Brandy’s (and MANY other names of this nature) are getting screwed – figuratively and literally. So it’s no wonder we didn’t stand a chance. Unfortunately the singer Brandy didn’t have enough individual pull to change this perception; especially being up against all those playboy models (for the record, I highly respect women who use their sexuality to make a living. In a society that exploits women so much, having a woman use that to her advantage is actually admirable in my opinion).
I work in a predominantly male industry – predominantly middle aged or older men at that. Well, there are a lot of women that I work with, but the decision makers ALL have penises. So getting them to take me seriously is a big enough challenge as it is. I’m a young woman, which is already 2 strikes against me, but now they have to call me “Brandee” and NOT envision a scantily clad restaurant worker who generates extra tips by smacking her chewing gum and bending over JUST SO? Fuck that noise. No. This chick is CLEARLY dumb like rocks and must have sucked her way to the top (and I’m not even going to TALK about the fact that I may or may not be suffering from the added effects of nepotism).
It happens, it really truly happens, and I hate it. I hear the way other people are spoken to on calls and I also hear the way people’s tone changes when I’m introduced as “Brandee” or even when they hear I am on the call, having already seen my name in email exchanges. I’m not working here because I’m attractive and slutty, I’m working here because I’m good at my job. It’s hard enough fighting to get my point across or having someone believe that really, I truly DO know what I’m talking about, without losing a few respect points because my mom had “Brandy You’re A Fine Girl” stuck in her head while she laboured me out of her body. It’s just my name, there is nothing wrong with it and it does not affect my ability to function as an intelligent person. My university degree proves that.
To all of you soon to be, would be, might be parents out there, I’m sure you’re thinking I’m going to tell you to think carefully about your kids name. And you should, because people are cruel asshats with nothing better to do than figure out how to cause harm. That said, if you really truly love a name, or want to use it, go for it. No matter what you choose, people will find some way to make your kid hate it when they are young. Over time, I’ve grown to love my name, and its stupid spelling, because I really believe it has helped shape who I am. I quite enjoy being a sassy, snarky bitch who kicks ass and takes names like it’s a part time job. I am stubborn and head strong and I don’t back down. I use wit and sarcasm to survive the shit storm that can sometimes be life, and I know that no matter what? I win. I do believe my personality was shaped by my name, and however that shape took place, I love where it landed.
All that I like about myself, I credit to my name; it was embrace it or allow people’s stupidity to control me and, I think I chose the right way to go.