beatrice_otter: Captain America (Captain America)
[personal profile] beatrice_otter
I have a problem with always-a-girl genderswap AUs of Captain America.  Not because I dislike genderswap--in fact, I love a good genderswap.  Because of the name.  I know the genderswap convention is to just feminize the name (Tony becomes Toni, Steven becomes Stephanie, James becomes Jamie, etc.).  And there's a reason to do it that way; it's immediately obvious who the character is a genderswap of.

But the thing is, when people name babies, they don't have one name and then choose the female form or male form when they find out if it's a boy or a girl.  With some names, such as Anthony (Tony) vs. Antonia (Toni), they're both relatively popular names, and at that point I don't mind it.  But for Steven/Stephanie, well, let's take a look at some hard numbers, shall we?

I get my numbers from, which has name frequency rates for the top thousand names since 1896 available on its website.  Pulling up "Top Names of the 1910s," which includes Steve Rogers' year of birth, we find that Steve is 116 on the list, with 9,639 boys born in that decade named Steve.  Not the most common name, but not terribly unusual, either.  (James, by the way, was number three, with 275,079 boys in that decade named James, which may be why he went by "Bucky" instead.)  If we go over to the girl's side of the list, the name in the 116th slot is "Cora."  "Stephen" (spelled differently, but basically the same name) is 89 on the list, with 13,502 boys in that decade born with the name of Stephen.  (The corresponding girls' name is "Ellen").  If we take Steve and Stephen as basically the same name and add the numbers of boys with those names together, we get 23,141, which would put us up in the mid-50s on the list, between Chester and Herman (corresponding girls' names being Bessie and Pearl).

Where is Stephanie on this list of common American names in the decade of Steve's birth? It's not even on the list.  See, the bottom names on the list are the 200th most common names, and those are Bert and Lela, respectively.  Where was Stephanie?  Well, if we pull up the popularity of the name "Stephanie" from the same site, (here's the search page but I can't find a way to link the specific search) we find out that in 1918, Stephanie was the 333rd most popular girls' name.  In that decade, it varied between 423 and 302--hardly a name one would expect to see very often.  In the mid-40s, it began creeping up, until from 1960-2007 it was always higher-up than 100 on the list.  (It peaked from 84-87, when it hovered at 6th most popular name.)  People my age are named Stephanie, not people my grandparents age.

Now we should consider Steve's family background (after all, in his day, children were a lot more likely to be named unusual names if they were family/ethnic names.  It's not like today where couples get baby name books looking for exotic names they like.  There had to be a reason to name a child something unusual).  Well, Steve was a working-class Irish Catholic.  Stephanie is not a working-class Irish Catholic name.  The only reason I can think of for an Irish Catholic working-class family in 1918 naming their daughter "Stephanie" is if they were naming her after St. Stephen, but usually you do that if the child was born or baptized on the feast day of that saint, and St. Stephen's feast-day is December 26th.  And he's the patron saint of martyrs and stone-masons, so not necessarily the guy you'd choose to set up as the patron saint of your baby girl.  If Steve's father were named Steve, I can see "Stephanie" in honor of him after his death, but his name was Joseph.

So what can we call always-a-girl!Steve that would be more period appropriate than Stephanie?  Well, you could go with Cora, Ellen, Bessie, or Pearl (which were as popular as the variations of "Steve"), or you could go with something that sounds similar and is on the list of popular names.  Stella, for example, is at #64 out of 200 on the "Popular Names of the 1910s" page, and Estelle is at #125.  Those sound similar to Steve's name so it would be easy for the audience to remember, and they are actual period names that she might realistically have been called.

(Crossposted from my journal)

loki_of_sassgaard: (Default)
[personal profile] loki_of_sassgaard
I'm going to preface this by saying that this is not a discussion about how Marvel is an alternate universe. I realise this, because we do not have super powers.

But there have been multiple attempts to try to put Captain America into a cohesive timeline, and it just doesn't work. There was some really weird, really basic knowledge fail somewhere along the line, and none of it makes sense.

Let's start with this, which is what I'd originally been using:

7 December 1941: The day that will live in infamy. This happens, we assume, as it did. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour, and the US ends its neutral stance in the war.

24 December: Bucky enlists.

March 1942: Schmidt finds the Tesseract in T√łnsberg, Norway.

14 June 1943: Steve successfully enlists. Finally.

Now, here's where it starts to get really wonky.

15 June 1943: Steve arrives at Lehigh. That's less than twelve hours later. He would have been shipped off quickly, but not THAT quickly. Even if a platoon was going out to Lehigh the very next day, Steve would not have been in that one. He'd have been in the next, whenever that was. He'd have had about two or three days to get his affairs in order before disappearing into the cause.

Not only that, Bucky only just now gets shipped out. That's eighteen months of training. The 107th (which didn't even exist during the war) was infantry. Infantry trained for ten weeks during this time. There were divisions that spent two years in training, but those were experimental divisions, like Airborne. What was Bucky doing Stateside for so long? I really want to know!

21 June: Steve's been at Lehigh for a week when Erskine picks him. That week... really doesn't match up with what we've seen. You don't just go straight into the assault course; you learn how to drill, how to march, how to fold your shirts and make your bed. The first week is when you learn how to follow orders. There would be some basic physical training and evaluation, but no assault courses. No weapons training. What the hell were they doing at Lehigh?

22 June: Steve gets all super-soldiered up. We know this, because the newspaper article we see, with him holding the cab door, is dated 23 June. So, he's undergone a week of training, saves a kid, and then gets the choice to become a lab rat or a dancing monkey. Did Steve even finish basic? I'm not so sure that he did, since the very next thing we see is the USO show.

After this, the time jumps up to

2 November 1943: The 107th goes up against Hydra. Two hundred men go out, fifty come back. First off, no. Not even a timeline thing, but this makes no sense. The 107th, if it were a real thing, would have had about 3000 guys at minimum. Perhaps it was Baker company, first battalion, of the 107th that went out. Still, where's the rest of them?

3 November: Steve and Phillips have an argument about rescuing the people trapped behind enemy lines. Thirty miles behind enemy lines. In Austria. In 1943. That's a lot earlier than we ever got to Austria. We finally made it that far in April 1945. Less than a month later, VE-Day. VJ-Day followed in June, and then the war was over. But this was 1943. Yes, there are superheroes and supervillains, but up until this point, the only super powers were Axis. That should have kept us even further from Austria, rather than letting us rock right up to Hitler's doorstep a year and a half early.

4 November: Steve leads everyone back to the base, wherever it is. Italy? Austria? I don't even know. Then they spend the rest of the war taking down Hydra.

Either way you look at it, it doesn't really add up. Either the Allied forces had some other super soldiers we didn't know about, or Steve and the Howling Commandos won the war in less than a month. One would assume that, since the key dates (Pearl Harbour Day, VE-Day, VJ-Day) are in the comics as they are in real life, then they're the same in the movies. I don't think there's really any way to fix or fanwank this, but it's just really weird that the writers would change so much like this. It seems to me that if they were already that far into Austria when they were, the war was basically won.

As a war movie, Captain America makes absolutely no sense at all. It's a great comic movie, but I don't actually know what's going on in it.
brownbetty: (Default)
[personal profile] brownbetty
Over Here, Over There is written by Maxene Andrews and, I presume, ghost-written by Bill Gilbert. The book is fairly chatty, and attempts to give both an idea of what civilian life was like in America during the war, and the part played by the USO performers. It pads out Maxene's history with materials from other USO performers, newspapers snippets, letters, and other materials. Unfortunately, hardly anything is cited in such a way that you could chase it down without effort.

I am actually enough of a newb at this historical period that it's possible everything I learned from this book is on the order of SPOILER: Liberace was gay! I think it gives a decent overview of America during the war years, if one keeps in mind that the Andrews sisters were actually comparatively wealthy by the end of the war years, simply from record sales. (Maxene doesn't touch on their financial situation, and frames everything in terms of their popularity, but at one point she mentions she "owned a kennel on the ranch, and had seventy-five dogs—boxers, Dobermans, and cocker spaniels." (78) This suggests a level of affluence. (Also, OMG, I want to live there! Maxene is a dog lover after my own heart, and apparently took a dog with her all the time while on tour.))

She attempts to deal with the racial inequality of the era, but mainly talks about the segregation of the troupes and USO entertainers. (Two paragraphs are dedicated to race riots, in 1943.) She mentions one entertainer, Kathryn Grayson, who insisted on performing for Black troupes as well as white. When Grayson was told her (black) maid was going to be staying at a separate hotel, she told the organizers she would stay at that hotel as well, but her inclusion in the book suggests she was the exception. (63) The book also includes a photo of a performance of "Hellzapoppin" with what looks like an all-white cast. (Compare with this youtube scene, from the film Hellzapoppin which claims to be 'the best swing dance ever captured on screen.' (Seriously, watch it. It's amazing.))

(I was also rather non-plussed to see reference to Al Jolson. Was he performing blackface, for the white troupes? They couldn't see a black performer, but a white/Jewish man in blackface, that's fine?)

As far is the book is concerned, gay is something invented in the 1960s.

The parts I found particularly fascinating were the bits about rationing, and war bonds.

rationing, the black market )

War Bonds )

I actually bailed out of the book when the war ended, so I have no idea what happens in the bits about the reconstruction.


cap_chronism: Cap, in battle, swinging shield (Default)
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