Giving Bill Burton S/He/It
Dear Bay Weekly:
Bill Burtons stance in The Grammar of Gender [Vol. X, No. 13, March 28-April 3] shows disappointing close-mindedness toward valid minority and gender-based issues. Burton ignores the complexity of the debate over sports teams being named after cultural minorities (often stereotypes of them) by bringing it up and dismissing it in one sentence.
His opinion that boats, cars and storms should be referred to with a feminine pronoun was defended only by the desire to maintain tradition.
A quick look at the authors own place in the dominant cultural and gender group probably reveals a lack of extensive consideration about being discriminated against and thus explains his impulse to dismiss arguments that threaten various white males sacred traditions, as stated in the Bluejackets Manual.
The archaic tradition of using the pronoun she or her when referring to objects such as cars and boats may arguably have begun with an affectionate intention and may even have been taken as a compliment by women of the time. However, in current times when men are not the only operators of boats and sports cars, the universal referral to these objects as feminine is no longer appropriate.
Regardless of the initial intent, women (and men) who are offended by this terminology claim connotations of ownership and power rather than maternal love or romantic longing. Automobiles are possessions, undoubtedly bringing their owners a sense of pride and power, and assigning a universal gender to them can be interpreted as a reflection of antiquated gender roles.
Why not refer to inanimate objects as it (which is correct English), or if there is a desire to personify a beloved object, use male and female pronouns (as with the storms), abolishing the use of a universal one?
This topic, the subject of many articles and books, could be expanded upon indefinitely. However, the most important point I want to make centers more on the danger in clutching traditions without reviewing them in the context of modern culture and of respecting the history and opinions of those outside the dominant group.
If something offends a large portion of a cultural group or gender, there is most likely a valid reason that should be examined and appreciated.
Amanda Lofton, Westminster
Lofton, a senior at Western Maryland College, was a 2001 Bay Weekly summer intern.
Another Fathers Flag
Dear Bay Weekly:
This is late actually really late but I thought you would be interested in this follow-up story to Pat Harders great reflection, My Fathers Flag [Vol. IX, No. 46, Nov. 15-21, 2001]. My fathers flag flies proudly at a national park in Baltimore.
My father, Salvatore Trivisani Sr., also a World War II veteran, died in 1981. I was given his flag by my mother. I kept it in my closet for almost 20 years until I saw an appeal for flags.
The U.S. budget was tight and the ranger at the national park at Woodlawn was running short of flags. My sister and brothers agreed that donating my fathers flag would be a good thing.
I always got a rush seeing the flag flying there, with the knowledge that every day it would be dutifully raised in a ceremony and each night lowered.
I think a national donation of flags is a great idea. If anyone knows how to take the flag so to speak and follow through, I would help in any way.
Tony Trivisani, St. Leonard
We welcome your letters and opinions. We will edit when necessary. Include your name, address and phone number for verification. Mail them to Bay Weekly, P.O. Box 358, Deale, MD 20751 E-mail them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.