Shiver me timbers! Those politically correct landlubbers have decided that generations of seafaring tradition must end.
In a move that would scupper the custom of launching a boat with the words ‘God bless her and all who sail in her…’ a leading museum wants to make sailing vessels gender neutral.
For centuries, ships have been referred to as ‘she’ and given feminine names. But the Scottish Maritime Museum says it is to introduce a ‘gender-neutral interpretation’ of craft and call them ‘it’.
Officials say it is because signs on exhibits bearing the words ‘she’ and ‘her’ have been vandalised. However, critics have accused them of caving in to a few politically correct protesters.
The Scottish Maritime Museum (pictured above) will be introducing a ‘gender-neutral’ term for vessels
The Clyde Puffer (pictured above) is on display at the Scottish Maritime Museum at Irvine
David Mann, director of the museum in Irvine, North Ayrshire, said it is looking to phase in the use of gender-neutral signs that ‘recognise the changes in society’.
He said he has been forced to act after an incident last week in which vandals scratched out the words ‘she’ and ‘her’ on a sign explaining one vessel’s history. Mr Mann said it is the second time the ‘very expensive’ signs have been targeted and the museum – which holds an important collection of historic vessels, artefacts and shipbuilding tools – cannot afford to keep repairing them.
He said: ‘The Scottish Maritime Museum is a charity which works hard to preserve our country’s maritime heritage for everyone to enjoy. For the second time this year, the museum has been targeted by a vandal, who has destroyed one of the interpretation signs which follow the universally adopted maritime tradition of referring to vessels as female.
The waterfront near the museum (pictured above) which is home to few small vessels
‘Like other maritime museums and institutions, we recognise the changes in society and are committed to introducing gender-neutral interpretation.
‘As a small charity, however, we are doing this in a phased way so that we are not taking our limited funds away from important preservation activity, introducing gender-neutral signs when new interpretation is required.’ The museum, which reflects Scotland’s strong shipbuilding heritage, posted news of the vandalism on social media and invited comments.
‘We can’t afford to replace all signs but new signs are gender neutral. Get in touch, we would love to discuss it,’ the post said. It met an angry response.
One poster said: ‘This isn’t how it works. You don’t get to erase history – like it or not, ships have always been referred to as she.’
Some people have said that the museum (pictured above) is bowing to politically correctness
Another wrote: ‘Political correctness is getting out of hand, the few are trying to bully the majority, there is room in this world for everyone.’ A third insisted: ‘All vessels are “she”.’
No one is certain why ships are regarded as female. While old sailors have explained the use of ‘she’ saying, ‘Like a woman, a ship is unpredictable’, experts say a more likely suggestion relates to the idea of goddesses and mother figures playing a protective role in looking after a ship and crew.
However, Lloyd’s List – which has provided shipping news since 1734 – has used ‘it’ for ships since 2002.