Scottish Maritime Museum adopts 'gender neutral' names for boats

Scottish Maritime Museum

The Scottish Maritime Museum

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A maritime museum is no longer referring to boats as 'she' and 'her' after a string of vandalism.

Sailing vessels have been known as female for centuries, but officials at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Ayrshire are introducing “gender neutral" names for their ships after an offended visitor scratched over the pronouns on museum signs.

It is the second time this year the museum has been targeted by vandals.

Museum director, David Mann, told local publication the Scotsman: “We recognise the changes in society and are committed to introducing gender neutral interpretation.

“As a small charity 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 holds an important nationally recognised collection of historic vessels, artefacts and the largest collection of shipbuilding tools and machinery in the country.

Angus Menzies from the the Honourable Company of Master Mariners told talkRADIO that it was disappointing to see "centuries of tradition" overridden.

"Although the reaction by the Scottish Maritime Museum is understandable, the Honourable Company of Master Mariners which has a membership of around 650 female and male sea captains, would be very disappointed to see centuries of tradition air-brushed out to assuage a few or indeed a single person," he said.

"In Russia, ships are referred to as 'he', but in the UK they have always been referred to as 'she', so both genders are covered in the international world of shipping."

Last week, the museum took to social media to announce the new gender neutral signs.

One person commented on the post saying: “This isn’t how it works you don’t get to erase history and like it or not ships have always been referred to as she.”

And another added: “The work of a maladjusted moron, all vessels are “she” amazingly no vessel has ever been recorded as possessing either set of genitalia.”

Words by Wesley Hudson

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