She Renames Them

Whore. Slut. Skank. Hooker. Tramp.

These words, along with so many others are words that no woman wants to be called. Unfortunately, most women have been called, or have called someone one of these words.

Recently, I came across a short story by Ursula K. Le Guin entitled “She Unnames Them.”  In this piece, feminist writer Le Guin compares Adam’s naming of the animals in Genesis to men (and women) who have given certain names—much like those mentioned above—to women. In doing this, Le Guin introduces her main character, who is a nameless women that is referred to as Eve.

Throughout the story, our Eve goes to each man-named animal and “gives back” their rightful names.

Le Guin’s point in this particular story is that women hold a number of names that can cause them to alter how they are seen in both society’s eyes, as well as their own. Culture has been harsh in providing women with names that describe them as promiscuous. However, Le Guin emphasizes that while numerous terms for a loose woman exist, there are few left for men.

Le Guin emphasizes the importance of names and how any change in a person’s name can alter their entire perspective.

For 48 hours, I conducted an experiment on my small private college campus. I decided that for those two days, I would strive to use the name of whatever person I was talking to.

So instead of greeting someone with “Hey, how are you?” I would simply insert their name and say “Hey Jenny, how are you?”

Although this seems like a simple experiment, it was rather difficult to find the desire to say these people’s names. It felt odd to insert the name of whoever I was talking to when I normally wouldn’t consider their name as I’m forming my sentences. I felt self-conscious in my conversations with these people because I was too busy worrying about using their names.

Although most of the people I came in contact with did not take notice of my new habit, it caused to me change my thinking when I spoke to people. As I began the conversations throughout these days, I was forced to look at the person I was speaking with, and really consider them as a person. By saying their name in the sentences I formed, I was able to keep my attention on the person I was talking to, rather than the words I was saying.

Image: “Hello My Name is Anonymous” by Quinn Dombrowski


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