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

Courtenay widow turns to Town of Comox for commemorative item to honour late husband

After being turned down by City of Courtenay, Laurance Stratton found Comox more receptive

Boomer Jerritt next North Island College Artist Talk speaker

Acclaimed Comox Valley photographer, artist and world traveller Boomer Jerritt is coming… Continue reading

VIDEO: Saanich resident shocked when trespasser licks security camera, rummages through mail

‘I found the situation really bizarre,’ said the Gordon Head resident

School district launches catchment consultation process in the Comox Valley

Comox Valley Schools is commencing an important boundary catchment consultation process beginning… Continue reading

BC Ferries crew member taken to hospital after getting struck by bow doors

Two sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay were cancelled

Canucks hang on for 3-2 win over Rangers in New York

Vancouver scores three times in first period

More beef products recalled due to possible E. coli contamination

The food safety watchdog has been investigating possible E. coli 0157:H7

B.C. VIEWS: How to get the best deal on your ICBC car insurance

ICBC slowly being dragged into the 21st century

Pot legalization has gone ‘well’, but ‘yellow flags’ on vaping: task force chair

Canada legalized cannabis for non-medical use on Oct. 17, 2018,

ELECTION 2019: Federal leaders hit final 24 hours of campaign

Many leaders remain in B.C. for the final hours of the campaign

Jack’s Devils beat Quinn’s Canucks 1-0 in NHL brother battle

New Jersey youngster scores first career goal against Vancouver

Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Crystal Rae Dorrington, 37, and Derrick Ronald Pearson, 32, facing multiple charges

Most Read