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Ships—sexist or sexy?

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By John
Does this look female to you? The Royal Navy's HMS Hood, 1924.

Sexism is a hot topic on Wikipedia at the moment. The Countering systemic bias WikiProject uses Tom Simonite's "The Decline of Wikipedia" to highlight "... the effect of systemic bias and policy creep on recent downward trends in the number of editors available to support Wikipedia's range and coverage of topics." It cites the New York Times to say that "Wikipedia has been criticized by some journalists and academics for lacking not only women contributors but also extensive and in-depth encyclopedic attention to many topics regarding gender."

A Wikimedia Foundation study found that fewer than 13% of contributors to Wikipedia are women. Former WMF Executive Director Sue Gardner said increasing diversity was about making the encyclopaedia "as good as it could be." Possible factors cited as discouraging women included the "obsessive fact-loving realm" and the necessity to be "open to very difficult, high-conflict people, even misogynists." In August 2014, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales announced in a BBC interview the Wikimedia Foundation's plans for "doubling down" on gender bias at Wikipedia.

Grammatical gender has not been a feature of English since the 12th century. The use of the feminine pronoun "she" to refer to countries survived in some writing until the early 20th century, but is almost unknown nowadays. Wikipedia, as a modern encyclopedia, follows this trend: we do not talk about France or the United States as "she", except occasionally in quotations.

In Wikipedia's articles, the use of "she" to describe naval ships is near-universal, despite a successful and ongoing effort to improve the quality of these articles by the Military History and Ship WikiProjects. The consensus is that the first major editor of an article gets to decide for all time whether an article uses "she" or "it". It's obvious from the preponderance of "she" in the articles that almost all of them have been written by those with a preference for "she", which under our current rules is fine. This leaves naval articles as the last bastion of grammatical gender on Wikipedia.

As a man with a fascination for machines, including war machines, I've always had a particular horror of men who describe their cars, motorbikes, or aeroplanes as "she". Without getting too psychoanalytical, this seems to be evidence of ingrained and systematic sexism. The AP style guide and the Lloyd's Register discourage "she" for ships, and the Chicago Manual of Style has stated since 2003: "When a pronoun is used to refer to a vessel, the neuter it or its (rather than she or her) is preferred". Some of my older naval books still use "she", but the modern academic standard in all serious works is to omit it as an archaic usage.

Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3 and other members of the US Navy women's dragon boat team cheer after winning first place over the US Army, Air Force and Marines in 2007.
The reasons some men give for hanging on to this terminology for ships are fascinating: "It takes a lot of work and tender loving care, as well as a lot of paint to make a ship look good" and "Some have a cute fantail, others are heavy in the stern, but all have double-bottoms which demand attention," are two of my favourites. Our Wikipedian usage still reflects the sentiment of "... it takes an experienced man to handle her correctly; and without a man at the helm, she is absolutely uncontrollable."

While these justifications are no doubt given tongue-in-cheek, in my value-system the casual sexism is obvious. Aesthetically this jars, and in terms of the embedded values of language, the use of a feminine pronoun to describe a killing machine crewed mainly by men jars too.

The place of women in Western society has undergone a huge change in the past 100 years. Women were allowed to vote in elections after much controversy in most countries after World War I, with Switzerland holding out until 1971. In the United States Navy, women have been recruited since 1917. In the 1940s, a special auxiliary service for women, WAVES, was set up. Women were expected to be non-combatants. By the 1970s, women were eligible for most surface combat roles and the first female naval aviators qualified. American submarines opened their hatches to women only in the last few years. In Britain, the Royal Navy first allowed women to go to sea in 1990 and it was 2014 before the first female submariners were admitted.

Perhaps as women penetrate this male preserve, this last remnant of grammatical gender could be allowed to wither from our project. Wikipedia generally has a proud tradition of being conservative in what we include in articles, but we claim to have a progressive attitude towards addressing systemic bias in how we write. Spinal Tap depicts a male rock star unable to understand criticism of the band's new album cover as being "sexist"; he asks "What's wrong with being sexy?" That was a 1984 satire on the problem of ingrained sexism; are male editors of ship-related articles in 2014 unconsciously perpetuating the same misogyny satirised in the film?

If Lila Tretikov and Jimmy Wales (not to mention the millions of volunteers who write our articles) are serious about helping us create a female-friendly editing environment, reforming the pronoun we use for naval ships might be an obvious place to start.

The views expressed in this op-ed are those of the author only; responses and critical commentary are invited in the comments section. The Signpost welcomes proposals for op-eds at our opinion desk or through email.
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Adding to the weirdness, by tradition Russian naval vessels were considered male and referred to as "he" while Wikipedia articles such as Soviet submarine K-222 and Soviet submarine K-278 Komsomolets refer to the boats as "she" and "her". - Dravecky (talk) 07:17, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

  • I'm a big supporter of countering systematic bias across wiki, but "male editors of ship-related articles in 2014 unconsciously perpetuating ... misogyny", really? Well, plainly not. This is both offensive and wrong. For a start, I'm struggling to see how using a pronoun for a ship can be interpreted as sexist (or, indeed, put off potential female editors) - a ship is not a "good" or a "bad" thing and has few connotations. This is a pure grammar point and, as a side note, I don't see our colleagues on wiki fr, es or ru worrying about such minor stuff. What is a much bigger deal than this storm in a tea-cup is the under-coverage of female figures, the colonial ideology rooted in virtually all African history articles and a hundred other things. But not this. —Brigade Piron (talk) 07:33, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
    • (commenting as a ship editor) In part, this is through the context in which they were used. A few are present in the article: ... "It takes a lot of work and tender loving care, as well as a lot of paint to make a ship look good" and "Some have a cute fantail, others are heavy in the stern, but all have double-bottoms which demand attention," are two of my favourites. Our Wikipedian usage still reflects the sentiment of "... it takes an experienced man to handle her correctly; and without a man at the helm, she is absolutely uncontrollable." Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 08:10, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
      • I agree that the quotes he gives are silly, sexist, and make me uncomfortable - but you can always have fun by picking the most stupid arguments made by the other side and ignoring the serious points. Andrew Gray (talk) 12:07, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
    • Machinery is traditionally referred to in the feminine; I see no good reason to cease that practice. It may interest people to know that in the UK at least, windmills were also referred to in the feminine.[1] As a writer of many ship and windmill articles, I've taken a different approach to each. WP:SHIPS is a very active project, with WP:MILHIST also giving considerable support. I write ship articles in the feminine gender not through sexism but tradition. It is something I'm comfortable with. With articles on windmills, I write in the neuter. WP:MILLS is a small group and not that active. It's not worth the arguments writing about mills in the feminine. I prefer to spend my time creating articles instead of arguing over them. Mjroots (talk) 07:44, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  1. ^ Coles Finch, William (1933). Watermills and Windmills. London: C W Daniel Company. p. 77.
    • @Brigade Piron: The reason the fr, es, and ru wikis aren't worrying about it is because those languages still use grammatical gender for nouns. English does not, except in a few informal contexts, like talking about cars and ships. As a point of pure grammar, our current practice is just outdated, especially within an academic context. There are no academic sources that still use that grammatical style besides Wikipedia. Kaldari (talk) 17:37, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • Executive Director Sue Gardner
Former Executive Director? MER-C 07:55, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Good catch -- I've made this change. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 08:10, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Its an interesting topic. Does the author find the use of "she" to refer to tropical storms equally jarring? I personally don't like the use of grammatical gender but I don't see the point in countering it while it is still prevalent across mainstream media. - Shiftchange (talk) 07:56, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

It is not our role to reform the world. What are the recommended conventions on pronouns referring to the ship in major manual of style (Chicago, Harvard)? Have any reliable sources suggested a change of pronoun? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 08:28, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

It's in the article: The AP style guide and the Lloyd's Register discourage "she" for ships, and the Chicago Manual of Style has stated since 2003: "When a pronoun is used to refer to a vessel, the neuter it or its (rather than she or her) is preferred". --John (talk) 09:13, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
The Guardian's style guide says "ships are not feminine: it ran aground, not she ran aground". But leaving it to individual editors' choice seems preferable. PamD 16:09, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
@PamD: If we want to be respected as a serious academic source of information, why would we not want to standardize on using modern grammar (as reflected in mainstream style guides and modern academic sources)? Kaldari (talk) 17:28, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
We don't "standardise on using modern grammar" for anything else where there is widespread normal variation in the language. Why is this particular case so important that we have to tell tens of millions of people, explicitly, that they're wrong to speak the way they do? Andrew Gray (talk) 17:44, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
@Andrew Gray: Yes we do. The MOS currently recommends logical quoting, which is a specific style among many in widespread use. We also have specific recommendations about dashes, capitalization, and other points of grammar that vary widely in English usage. Kaldari (talk) 18:40, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Fair point (I noted it below as "a few small exceptions" but forgot the caveat here). But we don't standardise in far more cases than we do, and things like word choice and phrasing are usually left up to the author. This feels the same to me - I do honestly wonder if there is a real ENGVAR issue here, with "she" remaining more common outside the US. Andrew Gray (talk) 18:49, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • A similar process is the decline of the word songstress for female singers. Now the word songstress is used almost exclusively for female singers with exceptionally good voice. I know it is subjective who has an exceptional voice or not.... but now female singers or just that, singers. Thankfully the use of actress for female actors is still common. werldwayd (talk) 09:35, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • This is exactly why no one wants to edit Wikipedia anymore: a handful of people have to lock onto and reject an open option to choose so they can force the rest of us into a increased state of misery just to politically correct. Misogyny be damned, this is censorship, plain and simple, and I for one will not stand for it on or off Wikipedia. As for the Op-Ed, its a nice peace of literature, but in my opinion the time wasted on this piece of original research could better have been spent contributing to something more useful on site. TomStar81 (Talk) 10:25, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
It seems quite unlikely that "no one wants to edit Wikipedia anymore" because some editors want to make a change to the manual of style—as unlikely as this article's suggestion that such an MoS change would help "create a female-friendly editing environment". Perhaps the mere presence of this sort of debate, rather than its outcome, drives away some editors, or contributes to a culture that does so, but even there I wouldn't jump to conclusions.
An issue may be important (or not), but there's no need to try to tie everything to the gender gap/editor decline. —Emufarmers(T/C) 14:13, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
That's why its called an "opinion", and not a "fact"; and more importantly I know that what I've stated is only an opinion, and not a fact. For all the disagreements in the world today, many could be solved if only all people had such a mindset :) TomStar81 (Talk) 20:45, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • Something that's been in use in major style guides for over a decade is "censorship" and "political correctness"? We should be following the example of these sources, not fighting them. Gamaliel (talk) 16:30, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • It is worth noting a few things here.
Firstly, there was an RFC in June on this very issue, which oddly wasn't mentioned here. The closing admin noted that "...there is clearly no consensus here for the proposition that the MoS should prohibit or discourage it. The choice between "it" and "she" is still part of the natural variability of English, and as such to be permitted on Wikipedia." The Wikipedia community has looked at these very questions several times and come down with no consensus to support a change.
Secondly, I strongly disagreed with the proposed changes on that occasion - not because of "tradition" or because of some strange association of ships with feminine characteristics, but simply because this is the way most people I know, be they male or female, speak English. Wikipedia has a long tradition of neutrality in style choices. With a few small exceptions (mostly around quotation style), we support and encourage people to write in the way that seems natural to them, using the grammar and word choice they see as normal and appropriate for the context. Using "she" or "it" seems to me to be a natural outgrowth of this - it is a legitimate and reasonable stylistic variation, used by many people, and we should respect it rather than simply declare ex cathedra that they are wrong and should change their ways. Wikipedia is not a vehicle for changing the language to suit your personal preferences, no matter how strongly you feel about them.
Finally, blithely declaring a stylistic choice - one used, consciously or unconsciously by millions of both male and female English speakers day-in-day-out - to be inherently misogynistic is simply insulting. Not only does it ascribe to people a very unpleasant motive that simply does not exist, it trivialises the very real explicit misogyny that exists elsewhere on Wikipedia. We should worry about that, and do something about it, rather than fighting endlessly over a well-documented linguistic quirk. Andrew Gray (talk) 12:07, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Agree with the above. By the same token women can protest the traditional naming of cyclones and hurricanes which are often given female names. While a ship is an inanimate object, some people refer to them as "she" not because they are mysoginistic, but out of respect and love (or emotional attachment, which is a natural feeling of a navy serviceman towards his/her ship). Brandmeistertalk 12:20, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
The tropical storm comparison is bogus. Tropical storms are assigned gendered names 50/50, half of them have male names, so there is no sexism and no valid comparison. Needless to say, no one in their right mind would refer to Hurricane Andrew as she. If half of ships were called he, this would be a logical comparison, but they aren't so it isn't. Oiyarbepsy (talk) 14:38, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Since the storms with male names are not referred to as he there is some sort of bias occurring. - Shiftchange (talk) 00:43, 18 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Err they can and did which is why modern hurricane naming is 50% male. See Lists of tropical cyclone names. Its unlikely to have anything to do with naval personnel given that it dates to at least 1375. Mind you arguing with Lloyd's over ship naming seems rather odd.©Geni (talk) 14:42, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
@Brandmeister: If a female navy serviceman is in love with their ship, wouldn't they more likely call the ship "he" (unless you're implying that all female navy servicemen are lesbians)? I think you're dancing around why the practice is sexist, namely that it assumes that all people who care about ships are (heterosexual) men. Kaldari (talk) 17:23, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Naturally, but the fact is that majority of the navy folk are men and I've never seen an instance when the ship was referred to as "he" in a reliable source. Brandmeistertalk 17:36, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Oiyarbepsy -- When Atlantic hurricanes started being named in the 1950s and 1960s (at first somewhat unofficially), all the names were female ones. However, I don't think hurricanes were ever commonly referred to as "she" except somewhat jokingly ("Thar she blows")... AnonMoos (talk) 08:31, 19 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Well put Andrew. 'It' and 'she' are both common usage, and to argue that people who prefer 'she' are sexist men is a fairly lame straw man argument. Nick-D (talk) 10:25, 18 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Ironically, "straw man" is also a gendered phrase. Euryalus (talk) 12:02, 18 October 2014 (UTC) Striking own comment as humour does not always come across in the spirit in which it is meant. Euryalus (talk) 12:22, 18 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Heh, that occurred to me as well ;) Nick-D (talk) 22:00, 18 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
I agree with Andrew's comments about stylistic variation. I may be old fashioned, and I'm probably older than most Wikipedia editors, but I've always considered the use of feminine pronouns to refer to ships as being normal and acceptable. It's something I was taught when I was a child, and at that time, my teachers and their students were not in the least bit concerned about the origins of, or reasons for, that longstanding usage. Rather, we were taught to speak and write that way simply on the basis that in the English language, for whatever reason, the feminine pronoun was used to refer to ships. Some time later, I was taught that in the German language, tables are masculine and doors are feminine, and, again, we were not concerned about the reason for it; our only concern was that that was the way things were. Against that background, when I see neutral pronouns used in English to refer to ships, it just strikes me as being jarring and wrong. Bahnfrend (talk) 01:22, 20 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Here's what it is - it is common to give gender to an object that a person has an intimate connection, as is the case with captains and their ships. If you want to call your own ship she, go right ahead. But none of us have a personal connection to any of these ships, so it is a clear "it". Oiyarbepsy (talk) 14:38, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]

That's also a perfect example of why calling all ships "she" is sexist: it assumes that all captains are male. Kaldari (talk) 17:18, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
As far as I know, our tropical storm articles use "it", regardless of the storm's name. —Emufarmers(T/C) 14:50, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • In the 18th Century British sailors referred to their own vessel as "she", and an enemy vessel as "he". As in "she turned her broadside toward him and opened fire. He fired back." In the late 18th Century, early 19th Century this usage died out, leaving us with all vessels being "she" or "it". I tried to implement the she/he distinction in some articles I produced, but it became too cumbersome to maintain, and also to defend so I gave up. I continue to use "she" generically out of a respect for tradition. Acad Ronin (talk) 15:29, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • Nice work, User:John. You know you've struck a nerve when you manage to generate so much comment so soon after publication. Gamaliel (talk) 16:30, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
    • With respect, a respected publication like the Signpost prints an editorial declaring that an entire class of editors are misogynists. The level of comment is not that surprising. Euryalus (talk) 19:21, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
      • an editorial declaring that an entire class of editors are misogynists That's not what was written. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:07, 18 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
        • In fact, it is exactly what is written, in the second last paragraph. However, please note my posts here have not criticized the editorial-writer for expressing his views - he is as entitled to them as you or I. As mentioned elsewhere, there was an inconclusive RfC on this issue in June which resulted in no consensus. But consensus can change - if there is interest in pursuing this issue further then another RfC is the appropriate path. Euryalus (talk) 12:31, 18 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • To those who contend that the use of the feminine pronoun is innocuous and acceptable – based on claims of "tradition" (and parochial claims that it's "the way people talk") – it would be worthwhile to admit what such usage meant to those who once used it regularly. The Elements of English Grammar (1903) states that masculine or feminine pronouns should be used based upon the perceived strength or weakness of the noun in question, i.e. strong and powerful things are masculine, and weak or submissive things are feminine. Time has not brought forth any other justification for this false and insulting anachronism, and Wikipedia should stop making excuses for it. SteveStrummer (talk) 19:16, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
    That's a fair point, although belied by the fact that warships are clearly neither weak nor submissive. Powers T 20:07, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
    @LtPowers: Ah, but there's the rub. A ship is just a hunk of metal or wood without a captain to command "her". Of course, ships, being so terribly lost on their own, could only possibly be women. What would they do without noble grey-haired men to guide them through dangerous seas and straits? RGloucester 20:58, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
    Then I fail to see what inanimate object could ever be labeled masculine. Powers T 22:38, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
That's because very few were. In Ye Olde Speeche, masculine pronouns were reserved for genderless nouns of power: few were granted such consideration, although "Winter" and "Death" were two popular examples. Feminine pronouns, however, were indeed used whenever a thing was considered "weak or submissive", or inanimate. Many things never rated a personifying pronoun at all, but the feminine was applied to any inanimate object that was imbued with a fond personal attachment. A carpenter's tools, a house, a beer, an automobile or airplane: they are prized possessions. They are owned, and used. They may or may not be cherished and protected, but the dynamic remains the same. SteveStrummer (talk) 04:43, 21 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • I agree with Euryalus regarding the editorial labelling male ship-related editors as misogynists. As a male editor who edits ship articles, I take offence. Besides, what is this supposed to be? Is this an attempt at a rematch of the June RFC? Manxruler (talk) 20:40, 17 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • Alternatively, this article could have been written to illustrate how a handful of self-appointed progressives launched a crusade to change vernacular word usage, over and above the traditions and source information upon which the articles are based. The disease of correctness reaches here as it already has in journalism. Chris Troutman (talk) 02:54, 18 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
    • The only disease at work here is the institutionalized sexism and discrimination that others continue to ignore. No one is free until everyone is free. What you feel as "correctness" is the antibiotic of freedom coursing through the veins of justice, remaking the world with every word. Not everyone enjoys taking the bitter medicine of progress; many are dragged, kicking into the future, screaming at the nurses and doctors who are trying to save us all. Viriditas (talk) 05:28, 18 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • The use of feminine pronouns to refer to ships has rankled me for years because ships do not, well, have any sex. This is so obvious as to be beyond dispute. As fpr "tradition," this would be like calling all African-descended people "Mammy" or "Uncle." I had not heard about any WP:Request for Comment regarding this matter, but it would have not made any difference if I had because the vast majority of Wikipedians simply have no ability to judge issues on their merits but only on their preconceived notions. I suppose we all have our shibboleths, but I, frankly, have never referred to a vessel as a "she," and I doubt that any normal person outside of the sailing profession or avocation have done so. We are encyclopedists, not sailors. Yours, GeorgeLouis (talk) 05:21, 18 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • Factual error (and I know you've seen this before, John): "ship" is not "the last bastion of grammatical gender on Wikipedia"—Anglo-Saxon scip was neuter. The later use of "she" to refer to ships has nothing to do with grammatical gender. Curly Turkey ⚞¡gobble!01:10, 20 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • Grammatical gender is interesting, for example the German Madchen is neuter. Thai has distinct first person masculine and feminine (two) pronouns. English has the same accusative and possessive female pronouns (her and her), while there are distinct male pronouns (him and his). Conversely the possessive and second possessive are the same for male (his and his) but distinct for female (her and hers). Attempting to assign baleful influences to the origin, and still less to the perpetuation of these differences is a futile effort, best left to conspiracy theorists.
  • On a more solid note, the figure of 13% female editorship was demonstrated to be wrong, and is several years out of date. The attendance at Wikimania his year was 36% female. While there is plenty of desire to increase the number of women and girls contributing to WMF projects, there is still a shortage of decent science around the whole debate, leading to vague hand-wavy assumptions and promises. For example citing being "open to very difficult, high-conflict people" as a bad thing for female editors is appealing on its face, but research found that female editors edited in higher conflict areas than men. Being less tolerant of "high-conflict people", could therefore worsen the gender gap. We certainly do not have data to suggest that it would improve it. All the best: Rich Farmbrough02:32, 20 October 2014 (UTC).
It's not rocket science why we don't have more women. Two recent data points for you, sir: 1 and 2. Check out the user name at the bottom of the page at the 2nd link. It is appalling what you may find when you need to report something to the administrators. Only very confrontational women will venture into that sort of atmosphere, and even then, it may be highly ill-advised. As the site says, The best time to defend against Internet harassment is before an attack ever occurs. -- Djembayz (talk) 00:45, 21 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • My first reaction to this article was "bikeshedding! This is an attempt to deflect attention from the more serious issues of respect for women on this site." However, since so many have opinions, here's another. Most likely I am the only female editor here with a maritime background. Generally speaking, ships attract men who comment on their "graceful lines", watch how they move with great interest, and express either affection, admiration, or frustration depending on whether it is possible to get the ship to do what they want.
A modern power vessel does not really seem like a "she", given its more angular lines, and its mechanical responses. By contrast, a sailing vessel with its graceful curves really does appear to spring to life when you get the sails and rudder just right for the sea conditions.
I often, though not always, call ships "she" when I want to express a positive or affectionate opinion of the vessel, as long as it's not a naval vessel. A naval vessel is not supposed to have a quirky personality of its own; it's supposed to do whatever the captain and crew require of it and obey its orders.
All that said, if something appears wrong and offensive to a substantial number of people participating here, I'm happy to go along with the preferred terminology, and view this as a part of what it takes to get along in a community. --Djembayz (talk) 13:08, 20 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • "...not to mention the millions of volunteers who write our articles..." — Uh, no, Wikipedia's articles are in the main written by a cast of "tens of thousands." In the spirit of Wiki Peace, Love, Respect, and Joy I will split the difference with you and call it "hundreds of thousands." Carrite (talk) 15:38, 20 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • A Wikimedia Foundation study found that fewer than 13% of contributors to Wikipedia are women. How could they KNOW without hacking the computers? Do you know if I am a man or a woman? Give me a break. This is WP:Outing, and it is dangerous. And don't you ANYONE start posting here .- OH, I know ... what gender Hafspajen has, I can tell you!!! Just STOP this fishing after peoples gender, please. Posting another editor's personal information is harassment, unless that person had voluntarily posted his or her own information, or links to such information, on Wikipedia. Hafspajen (talk) 15:10, 21 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • I would respectfully suggest that the editors of various style guides probably never had the privilege of serving aboard a ship and do not understand the naval traditions involved. Does tradition mean nothing in writing the history of a ship? Must we sterilize everything and cook it down to pabulum served up to the gods of political correctness? I fail to see the connection of a gender reference relating to ships to a lack of female editors on Wikipedia and would respectfully suggest that there are more serious problems to address by those few editors that continually carp about this issue. Cuprum17 (talk) 13:38, 22 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • As both a mariner and a ship enthusiast, one must ask what right we have to go against hundreds of years of tradition? We aim to produce accurate and factual content. Ships are referred to as "she" in the majority of the western world and we would be doing all Wikipedia users a disservice to enforce our own politically correct agenda. Fiosracht  Talk  00:50, 23 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • As far as I know, captains don't disrespect ships. I don't think that calling them "she" is disrespectful. --NaBUru38 (talk) 15:24, 23 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • She's gotta go - "The modern academic standard in all serious works is to omit it as an archaic usage." -- what more do we need than that? I edit science and medical articles and that sentence alone would be a slam-dunk to eliminate an archaic usage, no matter what "tradition" we were talking about. Traditions and the things they impact (like general usage) change, and the latter should be determined by academic usage, not the "in-universe" standards of "tradition". That works in science and medicine; why not everywhere else, if we're "reality-based"? --Middle 8 (contribsCOI) 18:27, 24 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • Yet another instance of radical liberals thinking that they make more sense than radical conservatives, and yet only further proving that they are just as bad as their opponents.

Here's an idea, since the referring to ships as she is not sexist (do not try and tell me that it is. If you think that it is, then I emplore you to refer to ships as "he" yourself. I would take no issue with it.), and goes way back (which, contrary to radical liberal belief, is not a bad thing. Traditional things are not bad by definition. They would only be bad if they are harmful, which this is without question not harmful, unless you have convinced yourself that you are a boat and not a human being, in which case I think you had ought to see a doctor about that.) I think it should be up to the original page author.

If there is a particular issue of its use on certain pages, then I think it should be changed to the neuter pronoun. If there isn't actually any particular controversy with an individual page, then it should simply use the same pronoun as the first author used.
I am tired of hearing all of this childish whining about doing trivial things that are not harmful in any way the same way as they have always been done. If it isn't broken, do not fix it. Tharthandorf Aquanashi (talk) 19:51, 2 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]


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