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If you are not 18, please exit stage left. While there is normally nothing naughty here, I do write and review erotica so there are links to spicy stuff and the occasional heated excerpt.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What's In A Name?

Names are so important, they help us forge our identities. Our parents hold absolute power by choosing our names when we are born. We as writers labor over what to name our characters. So what's in a name? Absolutely everything.

On Saturday, 285 girls in the Satara district of Maharashtra state in central India took part in a renaming ceremony for themselves. You see every single one of them had been given names that meant "unwanted." Can you imagine? Your whole identity beginning with the title of unwanted. I was astounded.

Government officials were prompted to hold such a ceremony because the latest census results show that ratio of girls to boys has dropped sharply. There are now 914 girls for every 1000 boys under the age of six. In Maharashtra that ratio is even lower with only 883 girls for every 1000 boys under the age of six and in Satara district, the ratio drops even further. Many believe this is due to the extreme gender bias that exists.

In India, girl fetuses are often aborted once the sex of the child is learned. Hospitals are forbidden to reveal the gender of an unborn babe as a preventative measure, but the truth gets out anyway. Girl children in many cases are neglected so they die young.

The name often given to girls is Nakusa or Nakusi which means "unwanted." Dr. Bhagwan Pawar, who came up with the idea for the renaming ceremony, says in a quote to AP "Nakusa is a very negative name as far as female discrimination is concerned." On Saturday these beautiful, extraordinary young women came forward and took their power back. They shed their horrible birth names and renamed themselves. They chose to be called "Aishwarya" after the gorgeous Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai. They chose "Savitri" after the goddess and "Vaishali" which means "prosperous, beautiful and good." One girl chose "Ashmita" meaning "very tough" or "rock hard."

The article, by Chaya Babu from the Associated Press, is here. The article is enlightening and shocking. I always understood that a name is powerful, but I guess I never really thought about it outside of my own stories. I am so happy that these girls were given the opportunity to rename themselves. They have forged a new path on life. I am in awe of the courage it took for them to make such a decision and go to this ceremony. Just look in those gorgeous eyes and see the hope and strength. Those girls, like the Nobel winners I posted, are what true Girl Power is all about.

To those girls and my fellow females everywhere, here's Pink with "Fuckin' Perfect" cuz we are ALL fuckin' perfect.

** The image above is from the Associated Press.


  1. I can understand if they want kids of certain sex, not normal, but there are such people ... but why naming them in that way? That's just plain evil.

  2. @Dezz I don't understand that either. I mean just because you don't want a daughter, you shouldn't name her as such. That is spiritual cruelty to me.

  3. That is just evil. And aborting girls? Sorry, that is just wrong. Good for those girls standing up for themselves.

  4. Wow. The depths which people can reach in their inhumanity to their fellow people never ceases to amaze me. Thank you for sharing this, Melissa - I hope every one of those young ladies uses her special gifts and abilities to change the world for the better - starting with the system that would allow them to be slapped with a moniker that does more to mark their parents as the ignorant asses they are than to shame their existence. There's plenty of shame here all right - but it all belongs to the generations up from this one. Wow.

  5. @Alex It breaks my heart to hear about girls who never even get a chance. My emotions ran the gamut as I read this piece. In the end I am so happy these girls stood up for themselves.

  6. @Craig I could not agree more. Shame on those parents and the ones who perpetrate this abhorrent practice. I hope every one of these girls makes to the highest levels and achieves her dreams.

  7. I loved your article, Melissa, but that video is so hard to watch (I do like the message of the song though). But, if the video is hard to watch, I think of how hard it must be to be a troubled girl like the ones in the video. I have one close to my heart, and this makes me so sad.

    Thank you for your post, it is a great one. Good for those girls getting the chance to change their names.

    Take care,


  8. @Kathy I agree, that video is hard to watch. I tear up when I listen to the song, yet it has an extraordinary message. I'm so happy you liked this post. It was really special to me as it broke my heart when I read about what those girls had been through. I had to write something, to share their story because it is something that is so important to hear, especially for women and those of us who have young girls in our lives.

  9. Ah, this is a very sad post, but very touching at the same time. Unwanted? WTH? I reckon India needs new laws! I love Pink's Fuckin Perfect. The other appropriate song for the case is Aguilera's Beautiful.

  10. @Nebular Sweetheart I so agree, it is very sad, but it is uplifting. No one should ever be unwanted. Indeed, India and many other places need new laws when it comes to women.

    And Christina's Beautiful is another very appropriate tune. How could I have forgotten that? :)

  11. Wow, amazing yet depressing post! Even more depressing that I had no idea this was going on. Fucking media. Or fuck my lack of motivation to get out and actually hunt for the important stories. It's like searching for a needle in a haystack sometimes, so I'm glad you brought this one to attention! I'm officially naming a character Ashmita now.

  12. @M I love that name, Ashmita. I want a character with that name as well. This story caught my attention and I knew I had to write about it. These girls rock.

  13. oh.
    i didn't know about this... but i'm not completely surprised. don't quote me on it, but i'd heard similar things happening in china- girl children being aborted, the government giving tax breaks to parents of one child, more so if the child's a boy. i don't know how true that is, but...
    it's just all very, very sad.
    it's also very, very empowering that these girls are taking their names back!!!
    the recommended reason was pretty stupid. but HOORAY for the baby chickadees!!!
    thanks for enlightening us!

  14. So many things I could say, so many I shouldnt. Anything cruel or inhumaine, more so involving kids just makes me weep for days.

    Them girls really do rock, glad you shared it

  15. @Demps I hear you. I was crying as I read this article. This is spiritual cruelty to me and I am so freakin' happy these girls got to reclaim their power and rename themselves.

  16. Thanks for this very touching and eye-opening article Melissa. Those girls would have had to have tremendous courage to go through with the ceremony, only because standing up for yourself starts the ball rolling in such a society.
    Its something society as a whole and parents as individuals need to teach their children throughout their lives - that their value is not based on their gender.
    And whether the case is extreme such as what these poor girls go through, or minor but no less malignant such as teaching boys to be strong and blue and girls to be fragile and pink, we need to do our bit to remould social acceptance of these divide.
    Sorry, it's a topic that is close to home....
    Thanks again Melissa, great post

  17. @tg Thank you very much. The courage of these girls humbles me and I knew when I read their story that I had to share it. Self-esteem is vital to the soul and you're right, we have to re-mold the way society thinks about and places value on gender.


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