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Friday, December 5, 2008

Baby Naming Issue: The Politics of Hope

Josie writes:
We're having a baby girl and we're going to name her Samantha. Now the middle name is giving us pause. I've loved the name Faith, but alas it is my husband's sister's name, and his family is Jewish so they won't name after living relatives. So then we moved on to a name with similar meaning -- which is why I've loved it so -- and wound up with Hope.

Perhaps you see where this is going. We forgot about Obama. I don't think I have it in me to name my daughter after a presidential campaign, because what if Obama is a flop? What if he sucks? What if we look like cliche liberal assholes?

Is there any resource that will show similar meaning names? Because really, Samantha Hope? Oh good heavens. How do I explain that one? Oh HAI. AM LOONY DEMOCRAT WHO MIGHT AS WELL NAME HER DAUGHTER MICHELLE OBAMA.


I spent some time searching online for a similar-meaning-names resource. What I found was a lot of really unpleasant, flashing-ad-ridden baby name sites. The only grain I found in all the chaff was the name Nadia, which evidently means hope. That's it. It's Nadia or it's Itxaro, apparently. And Samantha Nadia, while fine, doesn't have the ring of Samantha Faith or Samantha Hope.

I have another suggestion, however. What about Joy? Samantha Joy. It's beautiful, it's meaningful, and it has the same rhythm as Samantha Faith or Samantha Hope. But is that a problem because it shares your initial?

And I have one more suggestion: use Samantha Hope. I wouldn't have made the association myself, I think because the name Hope is so established already as a girl's name. It isn't as if you're using Samantha Yeswecan or Samantha Maverick. My opinion, in fact, is that this is a non-issue: that you can freely use the middle name Hope without anyone associating it with politics.

But this is the kind of opinion that begs for a larger-sample-size survey. What do the rest of you think? If you heard of a baby girl named Samantha Hope, would you associate it with the new U.S. president? Vote in the poll to the right. [Poll closed; see below.]



[Poll results (292 votes total) for "Does the name Hope have political associations for you?"

Yes: 15 votes, roughly 5%
No: 224 votes, roughly 77%
What are you talking about?: 53 votes, roughly 18%]

30 comments:

bellaf said...

I wouldn't have made the association. Having said that, I much prefer Samantha Joy.

Verity said...

I think it makes for the best of both worlds. As Swistle noted, Hope is well established - over centuries, really. My baby brother has the family name Walter in the middle spot - as it happens, he was born on the day Mondale lost to Reagan. It's never come up, even early days. I think my parents were the only ones to make the connection.

But should Obama succeed, it would be a happy coincidence. (I suppose if Mondale had won, my liberal family would've made more of the connection.)

Many a political candidate and religious institution has used "hope" in their campaigns or outreach efforts. IMHO, it doesn't diminish the name one bit.

And honestly? Your Samantha Hope will probably grow up with a few boys called Barack. So I wouldn't sweat it!

Nowheymama said...

We know two little girl sisters who are Am@nda Grace and Abig@il Joy. I've always liked names like these as middle names.

ZestyJenny said...

"Josie?" I totally know who wrote this. Am feeling like a super sleuth. He he he! :)

Firstly, I loooove the name Samantha. It is often my fake name when I don't want to use Jenny for fear someone will take my table or my latte. Good choice!

I hear your concerns about Hope, but honestly, I never would have thought of that. I say use it.

(And um, sorry if you actually are Josie and not the blogger I love whose writing voice is so distinctive.)

Kristi said...

I would have never made that connection. I say go ahead and use Samantha Hope, but Samantha Joy does have a really pretty ring to it!

Joceline said...

I would have never made the connection. But I'm cracking up at Samantha Yeswecan!

Barb @ getupandplay said...

I would not have made the connection. I think you should go ahead with Samantha Hope!

Anonymous said...

I was going to suggest Samantha Grace, it has somewhat of the same feel as the other two suggested middle names!

lfar said...

I agree with above- Samantha Grace! Also I don't think Hope is owned by Obama... hearing it doesn't connote Obama campaign, at least not to me.

Anonymous said...

Even if people do think of Obama now, they won't in 4 or 8 years, and that is when SHE will only begin to care.

Baby B said...

I didn't make the connection between Obama and Samantha Hope until you said it!
Hope is SO well-established as a name already. [I love all trait names as middle names, Faith, Hope, Grace, Joy. Even the old school ones like Charity and Patience!]
I really wouldn't sweat any possible Obama connotation. If anyone ever confronted you about it or made that connection and was upset by it, you can just point to centuries full of women named Hope. And, really? Hope is an excellent trait for us all to have.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I'm Canadian, so maybe that's the reason... but I definitely didn't make a connection between Obama and the name Hope. Even if Obama kept saying "hope, hope, hope" etc.... he said it as the verb (it's a verb, right?) not as the NAME Hope... and I think these different connotations will right away not lead people down the Obama line of thinking.

Unless I completely missed something here... did Obama have some character named "Samantha Hope" a la Palin's "Joe the Plumber" ? (lol)

Also, it's a middle name. How often do middle names come up? (Um, again, unless my little "joke" up there was correct and its the whole name in question!).

Reading these comments through, I also really love the sound of "Samantha Grace"... so you might think of choosing that if you still don't want to choose Hope. :-)

Frazzled Mom said...

Virtue names like Hope, Faith and Joy are fashionable now. Chances are your child will be in a class with a girl having the first name Hope at some point. And since middle names are hardly ever used (I assume you will be calling her by her first name) few people even know middle names anyway. So in a round about way, I agree with everyone else. The political connection is a non-issue. If it bother you though, Samantha Joy is a great alternative.

Melissa H said...

I voted no but I do think that for the next few years, folks might think there's an association. But then, this campaign will fade into ancient history (come 2010 or so) and unless you kept bringing it up it wouldn't occur to anyone. Go for it!

Peace said...

I have to suggest my own first name for this one, and suggest Samantha Peace. It has a great Zen quality to it, all political parties and religious groups theoretically embrace it. :-)
All that aside, Hope is a great name!!

Mama Cass said...

I never would have made the connection... Hope is a name all on it's own, and a strong one, at that. I think if you like it, use it.

Daycare Girl said...

Totally did not make the association. As in, even when you said so, I still didn't get it. I was thinking, aren't his kids named Sasha and Malia?

The only way it would make me think of him is if you named her Samantha yes-we-can.

Susan said...

I make no connection between Obama and Hope. However, I think Samantha Joy sounds even better!

Jen said...

I made no connection between Hope and Obama. But I have to concur with comments above, I love Samantha Grace.

Kitty said...

No one is going to make that connection. You are over thinking it. This is coming from a cliche liberal asshole.

Anonymous said...

I didn't make the connection at all - even still, I don't quite associate Obama with the name Hope. That being said, Samantha Joy sounds much prettier to my ears.

Kathleen aka Coffee Mom said...

I don't think anyone would ever connect the well established name Hope with a Obama's campaign. I like the name Hope, it's pretty.

Hope said...

As someone named Hope I can say no one has made any comments to me about my name being used so much in Obama's campaign, and even I didn't see the connection at the beginning of your email.

I love my name, and I was named by somewhat hippy parents who wanted to "put a little more hope into the world."

If it helps, I've been told the name Hope is Asha in Hindi and Esperanza in Spanish. Samantha Asha and Samantha Esperanza just don't have the same ring though.

Anonymous said...

I voted 'no'. Hope has been used as a girls name for a long time: my sister has a friend in her 50s named Hope. So even though I had an Obama "Hope" yard sign in my front yard for more than a year, I wouldn't connect someone's use of "Hope" for their daughter's middle name to the Obama campaign. On the other hand, if you're bothered by the possible association, you probably should pick a different middle name.

Patricia said...

Samantha Hope is a pretty name and meaningful for you. I don't see any reason not to use it.

Cass said...

I'm with the others - it doesn't make that connection for me AT ALL. But if it's bugging you, I think Joy and Grace are both beautiful middle names, too. Not exactly the same meaning, but a similar feeling.

Frema said...

Daycare Girl - I thought the exact same thing about "Yes I can"! "Change" would also have given me pause. But Hope? The name has been around forever. I was actually scratching my head at this one.

I do agree, though, that Samantha Joy has a really pretty ring to it, as does Samantha Grace.

Steph said...

I did not make the association either. I was going to also suggest Samantha Grace which the commenter above me did as well:)

Anonymous said...

I don't necessarily think that Hope=Obama.

But that being said, if you did like Obama and did support him, having the middle name Hope might be a nice story for your daughter. I know that I spent a lot of time in 2007 and 2008 (Iowa caucuses!) thinking about the election and it if I had a daughter this year, it would be kind of cool to have a name that kind of reminded me of something that meant that much to me.

Samantha said...

Well.. Since the name Hope has been a tradition in my family for MANY generations and because Samantha Hope is my name also... I vote for Samantha Hope. I have never had anyone say anything to me about my middle name and Obama. I think it is a very pretty name especially if it has meaning to you..