Manhattan Institute

Every Pronoun Must Go

To root out gender inequity, we must search every corner.

Two types of people desire to impose politically correct locutions on the rest of us: those who possess unlimited power and fear to lose it and those who aspire to unlimited power and need a means to attain it. And there is, after all, no greater power than that of prescribing what others must say and what others must not think.

The Scottish Maritime Museum, dedicated to the history of the country’s shipbuilding industry, has decided that it will no longer use the words sheand herto refer to ships, but rather itand its. This is in response to feminists, who have defaced plaques referring to ships as sheor her. This change would negate centuries of tradition, during which the words traditionally used on launching a ship, “May God bless all who sail in her,” carried no connotation of insult or deprecation—rather the reverse.

The Maritime Museum’s surrender is yet another instance of the craven surrender of British officialdom to the demands of a small but vociferous group of monomaniacs who make the imposition of their views the purpose of their lives. Museum authorities have argued that they must move with the times, and the prevention of vandalism is important, for economic reasons among others. Yet this rationale is something like awarding burglars a pension in an effort to prevent burglary.

Concessions of this kind will not reduce, but increase, the appetite of monomaniacs of different stripes. How long before the sexist opening stanzas of Lewis Carroll’s The Walrus and the Carpenterare changed to appropriately gender-neutral language:

The sun was shining on the sea,

Shining with all his its might:

He It did his its very best to make

The billows smooth and bright—

And this was odd, because it was

The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,

Because she it thought the sun

Had got no business to be there

After the day was done —

“It’s very rude of him it,” she it said,

“To come and spoil the fun.”

The sun, traditionally male in gender, is clearly of greater cosmic significance than the moon, traditionally female. Is not the moon’s light merely a reflection of the sun’s, rather than self-generated, and therefore a metaphor for the position of women in Carroll’s society (and ours)? Does it not also follow that Carroll’s poem is an attempt to indoctrinate little boys and girls into their future roles in the sexual hierarchy of their society? Should not future editions of the Alicebooks incorporate non-sexist language into the poem? And should not all past editions be withdrawn from libraries and bookshops, and the Internet censored accordingly?

Meantime, in Britain, the head of state, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, should be referred to as Its Majesty Monarch Elizabeth II.

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