Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Happy People-Who-Give-Birth Day, Mum


SURELY it is time the giant wrecking ball was swung towards the LGBTQ+ organisation Stonewall. Their mission-drift into all matters of sexual identity and inclusiveness is making them a laughing stock. I was never really on board with their militant, in-your-face tactics but I am sure they did a great deal to reduce discrimination against gay people and have discriminatory laws amended or abolished. On that they should be commended.

However it is heartening to see that some major organisations including universities are ending their association with Stonewall and halting funding. A shame for Stonewall but they only have themselves to blame. AS TCW has reported this week, their latest pronouncement is that the term ‘mother’ is ‘exclusive’ and should be abandoned in favour of ‘a parent who has given birth’. If ever reality was cast adrift – and we are bombarded with examples these days – this is an outstanding example of ‘lost touchery’.

I have eight children and not once, when they came home from school, did they shout: ‘Is the parent who gave birth here’? They were often disappointed to find that the parent who had not given birth was there and he represented the almost useless half of the parenting partnership. Key questions such as ‘what’s for dinner?’ ‘when is dinner?’ and ‘is there pudding?’ would all be met with a blank look and ‘ask your mum’. Next question was always ‘where’s Mum?’ One of my grandsons often stays with us. He never asks where the person who gave birth to the man who met the person who gave birth to him is. He asks where his ‘gran’ is. ‘Gran’ being short for grandmother, not ‘grand person who gave birth’.

The terms ‘mother’ and ‘father’, ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ are not meant to be inclusive: quite the opposite. Children are supposed to be able to tell the difference. I have a gay cousin, genetic father of a son to two lesbians. The ladies are called ‘mums’ and the father is called ‘dad’. If that is not a poke in the eye to Stonewall, I don’t know what is.

Call me old-fashioned but mums and dads are men and women, respectively, and are meant to be different. Mums are mums because they are soft and cuddly and they smell nice.

It astonishes me that someone has spent time or a committee has sat and concluded that we needed a new word for ‘mother’. Will this nonsense infect other areas of life? Imagine if the road transport industry decided that the term ‘car’ was exclusive of other types of vehicles on the road.

Would cars become ‘vehicles that go vroom’? Electric cars could become ‘vehicles that go swish’ or, in many cases ‘vehicles that don’t go at all because there are insufficient charging points’. Bicycles could become ‘vehicles that go tring tring’ and on it could go. My point being that once you embark on these journeys of stupidity you can’t stop.

Stonewall’s slogan includes the phrase ‘Acceptance without exception’. I do not accept their diktats about how we should abandon the use of long-standing and much-loved aspects of our language. I prefer to stick to the old words and ‘mother’ is one with which I refuse to part. Will Stonewall accept that without exception?

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Roger Watson
Roger Watson
Roger Watson is a Professor of Nursing.

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