OPINION: Ships are ‘shes’ and should remain so forever

As clichés go it has become one of the most overused and tiresome. But on this occasion a spluttering ‘it’s political correctness gone mad’ is a truism – something so obvious as to be hardly worth mentioning. Except this is.

Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 6:32 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 6:38 pm

In this instance that incandescent splutterer was none other than Admiral Lord Alan West, a retired First Sea Lord, whose anger is supported not just by us but by virtually anyone with links to the sea and the vessels which sail on it. Which in this part of the world is just about everyone.

And the cause of his outrage? The ‘bonkers’ vandals who have demanded that ships, yachts and boats should lose their sex and become ‘gender neutral’.

In their bizarre world this would mean HMS Queen Elizabeth, or any other warship come to that, becoming an ‘it’ not a ‘she’ and at a stroke wiping out centuries of tradition.

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But amid his anger, Lord West makes a salient point, one which wider society would do well to heed.

Referring to why sailing vessels are always feminine, he says: ‘We’ve done it for centuries as that’s how we refer to them.

‘We have to be very careful with little tiny pressure groups that make people change things. It’s a very dangerous road we are going down.’

Again, he is right, particularly in an era when just a handful of people can, potentially, make a noise loud enough on social media to bring about ill-advised and rushed changes to our world.

The small-minded vandals who scratched out references to boats as ‘she’ on information boards at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Troon  obviously have nothing better to do in a world troubled by so many issues that are really worthy of our attention.

Ships are ‘shes’. They always have been and should forever remain so.  We must not bow to the few trying to bully the majority. You don’t get to erase history.