Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Taking MY name in vain!

In a moment of fanciful egotism, I decided to make a Facebook friend of a girl in South Africa with exactly the same name as me. I was interested as although my first name Jenny is a bog-standard, traditional English name, my surname is somewhat unusual. My family history research has shown me that, nine times out ten, I can trace someone with the same surname to a common ancestor in fairly recent history.

Today though I had something of a shock. The other Jenny said in her status that she was 'excited about the hand gun course. Gonna shoot ya all down bitches :-). ' Seeing MY name attached to this statement made me feel quite weak at the knees. I immediately told my colleagues who knowing me could see why I would find this rather, well, unsettling. I am a vegetarian, abhor the idea of shooting at things for fun, am a pacifist at heart and, an Aquarian through and through, fancy myself as secretly unconventional, idealistic and given to thoughts of good will among men (these are the good bits about being an Aquarian by the way!). I am definitely not the sort of person who would say 'Gonna shoot ya all down bitches' - even with a smiley at the end.

Of course other Jenny isn't me just because she has the audacity to have my name, which may I add I had first! But somehow I felt my name embodied Jenny-ness which isn't about shooting fluffy animals and waving guns around. I am probably being unfair as other Jenny at no point mentions shooting animals or using guns in a dangerous way. But as someone who even feels sorry for clay pigeons, shooting is an anathema to me.

Sensibly I must accept that my name is a label and there is nothing intrinsically 'me' about it. Language, as all we post-structuralists know, is arbitrary and slippery. There is no relation between object and signifier except that which we impose upon it. Therefore it is silly and rather pointless to get sniffy and possessive about my own label. Except I do! You wanna mess with my label, yeh? I'm gonna shoot ya all down bitches!

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