in , ,

Guy Politely Shuts Down ‘Insufferable’ BIL’s Rant About Unisex And Gender-Bending Names

pregnant woman listing baby names
Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

The only Lesley and Darcy I knew personally were both men. I’ve known Jamies of more than one gender.

Growing up, Aubrey was a boy a few years older than me. Now, a friend’s daughter is named Aubrey.

The gender associated with a name can change over time. Or it can always be considered unisex.

For the bearer of such a name, it can be a source of resentment or it can be no big deal.

But names are always like that. We either like the name we were given or we don’t.

A man with a unisex name turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback after his brother-in-law repeatedly ranted about such names.

ExcitementWestern868 asked:

“AITA for telling my wife’s BIL he can’t speak for every guy with a unisex name or gender bending names?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“My SIL (wife’s sister) is expecting her first child with her husband. For the last four and a half months of her pregnancy he has been insufferable.”

“SIL and he are no closer to finding a name for their baby, and he uses the pregnancy and the fact they are actively still naming their baby to sh*t on unisex and gender-bending names (boy names on girls and girl names on boys).”

“His name is Skyler and he talks about how cruel his parents were for giving him such a girly name and a name that is meant for girls more than boys. He has ranted about people trying to call him Skye and how that’s such a girl’s name.”

“He rants and raves and regularly brings up the fact men should not have unisex or girls’ names and yet so many people think naming a boy Riley today is fine, or naming a boy Sage makes sense. He said it’s wrong.”

“He talked about meeting a young boy named Wren and how his parents had cursed him to forever be mistaken for a girl when they heard the name. He said no man or boy likes those names. No man or boy wants to be called those names.”

“As a male Indigo who goes by Indie in day to day life, including at work (and school and college when I went) I disagree that every guy feels this way. I don’t.”

“I also know a guy named Kenzie (from school) who never had a problem with his name. I know a guy named Sonny who hated his name because he felt it was too girly.”

“So it balances out. But my wife’s BIL is adamant that every man and boy with any name that gets used on girls too is disgusted by it and hates it. He will not let it go.”

“This came up again on Saturday when we went out to lunch. He was being loud and doing his same old rant as always.”

“This time, I spoke up and told him he can’t speak for all guys with unisex or gender-bending names because we don’t all hate our names, and he can look to me as an example if he wants.”

“I also pointed to a guy he follows on social media who technically has a unisex name. I told him they might not be his thing, and that’s fine; nobody can force him to like those names.”

“But he’s wrong to speak in absolutes about it like he does.”

“He acted like I had personally demanded he name his son Ella or something. He called me a d*ck and told me I can’t force my opinion down his throat like that.”

“His wife told him to shut up and listen to what I actually said. But he told me I had humiliated him and told him he’s wrong to have his opinions, and that makes me the a**hole.”

“AITA? Should I have simply left the topic alone?”

The OP summed up their situation.

“I told my wife’s BIL he can’t speak for all guys who have a unisex or gender-bending name.”

“He didn’t ask for me to interject and I stayed silent many times before this so I feel like staying silent would have been a better move than inserting myself where he clearly did not want to hear me or hear any difference of opinion.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).

“NTA. He’s obviously in a set headspace. Your opinion won’t change it or have an impact.”

“To some people, gender-neutral names are on par with names that can be reduced to nicknames.”

“Our youngest is Danny. Many people assume his name is Daniel and call him that. No, he’s purely ‘Danny’ on his birth certificate.”

“My husband is from Belgium with the name ‘Jan’. Being in Australia you can bet your bottom dollar people assume I’m a lesbian as they see it written as Jan, until I explain it’s pronounced ‘Yarn’ and he’s a 6 foot 7 bloke.” ~ Haunting-Juice983

“NTA. I’d have a hard time not laughing at his little tantrum. Damn, the amount of energy he’s dedicated to this is wild.”

“If this is what he considers a big problem, he’s lucky in life. It’s also telling that someone having a simple difference of opinion on this makes him feel ‘humiliated’.”

“Yeah, just keep shutting him down. ‘You’re free to have your preferences, but you don’t get to dictate how others feel about their own experience. We’ve all endured your rants long enough. We will not center your fragility’.” ~ paul_rudds_drag_race

“‘You can’t force your opinion down my throat while I’ve spent 4.5 months trying to force MY opinion down YOUR throat’, your BIL screams into the night, absolutely humiliated by his own petard.”

“NTA from a woman with what’s technically a boy’s name and just fine with it.” ~ BufferingJuffy

“It’s funny that he won’t let you ‘force your opinion down his throat’ but regularly tries to force his opinion down everybody else’s throat. NTA.”

“I’d be inclined to shut him down next time by saying,’ Yes, we all know what you think. You’ve told us many times. No need to discuss it further’.( polite ) or ‘It’s like Groundhog Day. Shut up you bore,’ ( less polite).” ~ silverwheelspinner

“If he had such a problem why hasn’t he changed his own name? Sounds like he’s just looking for an excuse to be an A**. NTA.” ~ merryfan4

“NTA. He CAN legally change his name. He knows that.. right?”

“Because that’s how you can shut him up (at least once, because if he is intelligent he will see that he can still Be against the gender neutral/reverse naming, without having one himself).”

“Or if that doesn’t work, just tell him that his rants make him look very uneducated because it’s very obvious that he has no idea of the history of names (or language in general for that matter) and how some of them actually started as the opposite or mostly no assigned gender at all.”

“We have sooo much knowledge about the history of languages and differences between them, and their relations, including names and how and why those started being a thing in the first place. People still assuming languages never change is a pet peeve of mine.”

“Please tell him from me: ‘stop being willfully ignorant of something you can f-ing Google in 5 sec! Also: you are ALLOWED to NOT know something, friends/family would (should?) never shame you for that, but please admit that at least to yourself and stop ranting about nothing’.”

“‘You could research and actually learn something and talk about it properly, but then you would see you’re wrong and that can NEVER happen.. right?’.”

“OP I advise you to just remind him every time he has his public loud rants how stupid what he is saying is—of course in a friendly and the least confrontational way you can manage, so he has no ammunition for putting blame on you.”

“He will stop doing it when you’re around at some point. I hope for you. Worked for me a few times already with different ‘ranters’.” ~ Designer-Bass-8440

“NTA—guy with a unisex name here too. Thanks. Agreed. Some of us have no problem with it, dare I say even like our names.” ~ jrm1102

“My spouse has what has become a 100% girl name. In 2021, there were no boys named his name. And it’s also a unique name (it was the 618th most popular name for girls with only 447 named it for that year).”

“He is so often mistaken for a woman on paper that our college put him into a girls’ suite and had to scramble to find him a new room on move-in day.”

“But he gives zero f*cks. And his name is a professional benefit because it is so rare (no one else with that name) and it is on theme for our profession.”

“All this to say, we named our second child something unique and potentially gender ambiguous (it’s a nature name that leans masculine due to a popular fandom character we only learned about later) and he’s the one who suggested the name.”

“Because he is secure in his masculinity and any misgendering that occurs only happens on paper (and never happens again after an IRL introduction). And because he is confident that we can raise our child to be secure in his masculinity and rock his cool and unusual name.”

“All this is to say is that obviously OP is NTA. His BIL belongs in therapy in order to get over his name version of a Napoleon complex.”

“Because he is giving off feeling majorly inferior energy, and no one should have to live hating themselves and overcompensating for that. It’s exhausting for everyone.” ~ armchairepicure

The OP’s brother-in-law can name his child whatever he wants, but the rest of the world doesn’t have to listen to his ranting.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.