Choosing a name for your new baby is hard. It’s important to find a name you like, but many people also want their children to have a story behind their name. A name can shape who a person is and how they see the world. And while it’s not uncommon for people to give their daughters feminist names, it’s not often that we hear about boys being named for explicitly feminist reasons. But feminism is just as important — if not more important — for boys as it is for girls. Giving your son a feminist name can be a jab at the patriarchy and a small step towards shattering the status quo.
Aside from just being awesome, there are other good reasons to name your son after an out and proud feminist. When he’s old enough to know why you chose his name, you can teach him about the person he’s named for. It’s an accessible way to begin to introduce your son to feminist history and why it’s important. He can then carry that knowledge with him to school, where he can impart it on his friends. And hopefully, some of the lessons of his namesake will rub off on him and give him something that he strives to live up to. So if you're looking to shake up the naming game and break the status quo, here are 15 great choices if you’re looking for a feminist name for your little boy.
An actress known for her quirky, intense roles, Ellen Page recently came out as gay and has since become a huge advocate for the LGBTQ community. The world needs more people who are unafraid to be themselves, like Ellen (and, hopefully, your budding feminist son).
Beyonce Knowles-Carter is a bad*ss. Personally, I think everyone should be named Beyonce — girl, boy, non-binary. We should all change our names to Beyonce. But naming your son Nole is also a great, subtle tip of the hat to the Greatest Pop Star of All Time.
Frederick Douglass is best known for his abolitionism, but he was a staunch supporter of women’s suffrage, too. He was the only African American to attend the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 and said that he couldn’t accept the vote as a Black man if women were not granted the same rights. He was way ahead of his time, and naming your son after such a badass guy gives him an early history lesson into how to stand up for what’s right.
Notorious RBG is the second female justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and an internet sensation. Young Bader would have a lot to live up to with a namesake like that — she only made it to the highest court in the land, after all.
Howard Zinn is best known for his book A People’s History of the United States. In it, he chronicled the oppression of many marginalized groups of people, including women. Throughout his career, he was a champion for untold history, telling the stories that were often overlooked. He’s a great example for little Zinn about understanding whose eyes we learn history through and how to look for the stories that you aren’t hearing — because everybody has a story.
Henry Morgentaler was a pro-choice advocate who fought hard for abortion rights in Canada. A Holocaust survivor, he saw the need for women to receive safe abortions and decided to challenge the law and risk his own career and freedom to see that they could access them. The world needs more advocates for reproductive health care like Morgentaler, and giving him a namesake is a small step towards achieving that.
Leslie Feinberg was the author of Stone Butch Blues, and a transgender activist. She wanted to be remembered as a revolutionary communist (in fact, those were her last words!). She was a hugely inspiring advocate for all oppressed people, and deserves to be remembered for it.
President Barack Obama is the first Black president of the United States and a champion for women’s rights. He is unafraid to claim the “feminist” title, and giving your son his name is a great way to teach him that she should claim the word, too.
Hey girl, Feminist Ryan Gosling totally needs a namesake.
Even “macho” guys like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson can be feminist, and what better way to teach your son that lesson than by naming him after the wrestler-turned-actor? He respects women, as he showed with this touching tribute to his grandmother. What a great example for your own child.
Elon James White is the founder and CEO of This Week In Blackness, who championed the hashtag #TheEmptyChair, making his timeline and inbox a safe space for women who were survivors of sexual violence to share their stories. He trusts women and gives them space to speak, which is a skill all men should have.
Nicki Minaj is outspoken about the sexism and misogynoir she experiences as a Black woman in the music industry. Despite it all, she has emerged as a superstar in the hip hop world and has done it without censoring herself. She’s a great example of someone who is a leader in their field, and anyone named after her would have to be awesome.
Marco Sparks hosts a Pretty Little Liars podcast. . . for bros. It’s feminist and encourages guys to embrace media that’s traditionally geared towards women. He’s encouragement for your son that media doesn’t have to be gendered, and there’s no shame in enjoying things that make you happy.
Dr. George Tiller was an American physician who provided late-term abortions to people who needed them. Through threats, harassment, and previous assassination attempts, Tiller remained true to his principles and never wavered in his belief that people deserved access to safe abortions and that he would provide them. That’s someone worth honoring.
Junot Diaz is a Dominican-American writer, who is outspoken about social justice and cites sexism, along with racism and genocide, as one of his primary concerns as a writer and activist. He writes women characters who are fully formed and wonderful, in a literary world where men do not do their female characters justice. What better namesake than Junot to encourage your son to be creative, vulnerable, and empathic towards women?