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June 17, 2014 10:36 AM
In Response to A stranger in fiction

A slight problem here, that I don't think anyone else has picked up on yet...
(EDIT: ah, actually, there's a mention directly above this (beyond the spam). Not sure how I missed that, as I scanned through specifically for it and it's right at the end of the thread ... oh well, onwards we go anyhow)

"Ripley"'s actual name in the Aliens series is... Ellen Ripley. Her given name is a very feminine one which manages to encompass a variant rendering of that of one of the most famous women from all of written history - Helen (or, if you like, Elen), the legendary beauty of Troy, as well as the French pronoun that corresponds to the English "she". Ellen is only referred to by her surname because, well, that's the convention on military and naval vessels, including spacecraft. All of the other crewmembers, at least in the first two films, are referred to by their surnames, including the female soldier (something E.R. definitely is NOT), Vasquez...

Oh, and her middle name is Louise. And the whole ship is run by "Mother"...

In fact, now I look it up, the credits don't seem give anything OTHER than the surnames for any of the crew, and thus it's an unknownable, perhaps deliberately genderless mismash. Ripley, Brett, Dallas, Lambert, Parker, Ash, Kane, Hicks, Hudson, Burke, Vasquez, Bishop ... can you spot the male and female from within that? And of course we then have Newt... aka Rebecca Jorden. It looks like a similar convention is used in the later films too, though I'm less familiar with them, and it even seems to extend to excising their given names from the script... literally all we have for some of them is the surname.

It's not that the characters actually have unusually androgynous names (though, as it's projecting through a lens that sticks out a couple hundred years in to the future, who can be certain?), it's just that the militaristic conventions governing how the whole system runs relies on using their intrinsically less gendered (and, thanks to history, more likely to be masculine) surnames.

Shifting gears but staying on the same road, C.J. Cregg's actual given names? Claudia Jean. Pretty feminine once again, so long as you take "Jean" as being the English form of "Jeanne", rather than the French form of "John". One presumes she took to using the initialised form just because it was a lot quicker and easier to say - and sounded more American, rather than, say, German - than "Claudia"... but "C" sounded a bit lonely all by itself.

Dr Quinn's position sort of hinges on how androgynous you think Michaela and its variants (including the Russian "Mikhalia") happens to be, seeing as it's basically "Michael" with an "a" hastily tacked on the end when the child's parents realised that merely hoping for a boy doesn't do diddly squat against a 50:50 coin flip. The strangest thing is how it gets shortened to "Mike" - more realistically I've found it gets shortened to Mickey or Mick... the latter is still fairly masculine but, cartoon mice aside, the former is pretty androgynous bordering on feminine these days... although also somewhat diminutive (...probably better to leave the discussion around THAT for another time?).


PS, to my ears, Mackenzie sounds androgynous edging toward feminine (sorry, Mackenzie Crooke... ;), and Laine is definitely more feminine than masculine. Simply going by the "feel" and its similarity to more well-established names (e.g. Raine, for a start, and Aine/Anya), and completely ignoring its roots... (which, let's face it, very few of us know for the vast majority of names we run across day-to-day anyhow). 

...can't do much to fix "Murphy", however :D ... what were her parents thinking?

June 17, 2014 10:33 AM
In Response to A stranger in fiction

-zappo- (this original form of this comment now folded into the one above)