The Goddess’ Speech
By RM Allen, March 8, 2018
It is time to vote for a new member of town leadership in my town, the Select Board, formerly known as the Board of Selectmen. Today it is half, if not more, peopled by elected women. When I watch their meetings on TV I see the nameplate in the center of the long table still says “Chairman”, no matter if a woman is sitting behind it or a man. Does it really matter? No. But I think if the nameplate said “Chairwoman” and a man was seated behind it most times, it would be quickly replaced.
…chairman, chairwoman, chairperson
I do a lot of volunteering. During scheduling I often hear someone say who will “man the table”? Does that exclude women from volunteering at the table? If a woman declares “I will man the table” does that mean she has to sport pants and a mustache? Does the figure of speech here really matter? No. But I think if a man was asked to “woman” a table, he may wonder exactly what it would mean.
…man the table, woman the table, staff the table
One of the most striking songs ever written is John Lennon’s Imagine which contain these lyrics: “…no need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people, sharing all the world…” By now, you see where I am going, my friend! Does the language really matter? No. But if Lennon had instead written “a sisterhood of women” would that have rendered men invisible in relation to this song and turned it into a feminist manifesto?
…brotherhood of man, sisterhood of women, folkshood /family of people
In the tradition of my church, Unitarian Universalist, if you are forming a new branch and are lay-led and don’t have an ordained minister yet (or never plan to), you are known as a “Fellowship”. When snowbirding, I attend the “Universalist Fellowship of St. Augustine” which is a lively and lovely operation in a gorgeous building. Fellowship is this instance is a very Christian word, which is funny because most people who identify as UU’s are not Christian, though some are. Does using the word fellowship then diminish those in the group who are atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, Jewish, Humanist, etc? This in combination with my observation that the majority of attendees at any church are female makes me wonder if Sunday gathering houses would be more appropriately named “Dameships”?
Try these on: “We serve coffee in the Dameship Room.” “We welcome you with warm dameship into our fold.” Awkward. Seems to render the men all but invisible, possibly unimportant. But would it actually deprive them of any power in the democracy of their home church? Does using the word fellowship do the same? Who thrives when we use the following terms…
…Fellowship, Dameship, Folkship?
All the above is something to ponder. Try switching out some of these words/phrases in your speech every once in a while, just for the reaction. Does it make others:
- take pause, awake, and embark on course-correction
- say you are a feminist bitch
- say thank you
Amen, Awomen, Namaste