National anthem lyrics show our gender bias

Dear editor,

I read with interest Brendon Johnson’s letter of June 23rd (National anthem was fine as it was). While the writer makes valid historical and grammatical points regarding the use of masculine words with a general reference in the English language, his argument fails to take into account the fact that living languages constantly change to reflect the realities of the day – old English was unrecognizable after 300 years of rule by the Norman French. For most of its history the English language was the product of a society where women were explicitly unequal to men, considered legal chattels of their fathers and husbands, unable to vote or own property. The fact that in O Canada we have “sung the offensive phrase for a century with no thought of excluding women” only underlines just how deeply-rooted gender bias remains in our language and culture.

Like Brendan Johnson, I place great value on heritage and tradition, and I further agree with him that our choice of words is very important. Some traditions are best relinquished however (slavery and trial by torture come to mind). As we evolve into an ever more equal and inclusive society, so too must our language, precisely because of the power words hold. In closing, I offer for consideration a quote recently posted on Facebook: “For those who have always known privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

Ken Piercy

Comox

 

Just Posted

Comox Valley teen with autism a spectacular guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in Port Alice exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Seventh annual Campagnolo Lecture coming to Courtenay

Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould to speak

School for students on Hornby Island ‘normal as can be’: portables expected in new year

While it’s not an ideal situation, the return to school for students… Continue reading

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

Spencer O’Brien part of Indigenous Sport Gallery

Olympic snowboarder included in Hall of Fame exhibit

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Tilray Inc sees $10-billion in market cap go up in smoke

Tilray’s share price closed at $123 US on Friday, a decline from its intraday peak of nearly $300 US earlier in the week

Breast density to be included in mammogram results across B.C.

The information is crucial in proactively reducing the risk of breast cancer, doctors say

Canada to boost support for riskier forms of renewable energy: minister

A $30-million contribution to a $117-million tidal project hopes to harness the immense power of the Bay of Fundy

B.C. watching Trans Mountain review, George Heyman says

Court decision stalling pipeline ‘validates’ environmental concerns

Browns beat streak, win first NFL game in 635 days

Baker Mayfield erased any doubts about why the Browns selected him with the No. 1 overall pick

Most Read