Your Baby's Name Is Probably Stupider Than "North West"

Oh, not you. Your baby's name is great! But you know who I'm talking about. (You.) (Just kidding.) (Wow, that person picked a stupid baby name.)

But Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's baby, "North," as in "North West"—that's decent. Not bad at all, under the circumstances. And baby names are nothing but circumstances, which is why everybody else's baby names are so terrible and worth making fun of. Other people aren't you, and when they name their babies, they are gauche enough to demonstrate that fact.

And you certainly aren't Kanye West or Kim Kardashian (unless you are, in which case: Mazel tov!). So there are lots and lots of things that the West-Kardashian family does that you would not do, yourself, and when you contemplate the vast set of those things, their naming their daughter "North West" seems pretty admirable and restrained. Being named North West is probably not going to be one of the 200 most traumatic or weird or challenging things about this child's life, as it unfolds.

But even if we pretend the West-Kardashians are normal Americans: have you seen what normal Americans are naming their daughters? The top 50 baby girls' names of 2012 included Madison, Addison, Avery, Aubrey, Harper, Brooklyn, Hailey, Kaylee, Nevaeh, Taylor, and Riley. Every one of those is much worse than "North." Do you have to be reminded that if you choose to name your daughter "Madison," you are literally naming her after a dumb joke in a movie about a mermaid? Evidently you do have to be reminded, because you keep on doing it. Soon the lowest-common-denominator urges behind "Nevaeh" and "Brooklyn" will converge and today's children's children will be named "Nylkoorb."

Celebrities, meanwhile, go ahead and name their children "Apple" and "Rumer" and "Moxie CrimeFighter," because they know it just doesn't matter.

What's wrong with "North," next to all this awfulness? It's crisp and simple. People seem to be trying to complain that it's not a girl's name—as if they're somehow afraid that Kim Kardashian's daughter is going to grow up deprived of cues about how gender roles are enacted in contemporary society. Again, check those top names: Avery, Aubrey, Taylor, Riley. A girl's name is a name you give a girl, even if it's supposed to be a boy's name ("Aubrey" outranks "Audrey" nowadays). People figure it out.

The Internet had previously concluded that this baby was going to be named "Kaidence," which would have been truly atrocious, and which would have attached her to the Kardashian family tradition of treating daughters as objects for monogramming, like shirt cuffs. "Khloe" and "Kourtney" are inexcusable. Surrounded by bad precedent, little North came out lucky.

But her last name is "West"! That's not a problem. Of all the questionable impulses that guide people to name their children—hick aspiration ("Savannah"), ersatz traditionalism ("Isabella"), cautiousness ("Emily"), ersatz traditionalism plus cautiousness ("Sophia")—the desire to make a dumb little pun is relatively harmless. The West-Kardashian baby falls within an old and charmingly square tradition of goofy names. I went to college with a "Caraway Seed" and a roommate whose middle and last names were "Peter Pan." If Armand Hammer and Ima Hogg could handle it, North West can too.

Really, she should be immune to the pun. A jokey name is only a burden for otherwise anonymous civilians. No DMV clerk is ever going to say, "Haha, wait, what was that?" The DMV clerk will say "Ohmygod, it's North West!" Assuming her personal assistant doesn't pick up her learner's permit for her.