What's the point of changing ships from 'she' to 'it'

01:00 Thu 21st Mar 2002 |

asks ursula:
Lloyd's List, the shipping industry's newspaper, has announced that it will neuter ships from now on. The newspaper, founded in 1734, will now refer to ships as 'it', ending the centuries-old tradition of treating them as feminine.

Q. Why
According to the editor of Lloyd's List, Julian Bray, the paper sees it as 'a reflection of the modern business of shipping. Ultimately they are commodities, they are commercial assets. They are not things that have character - either female or male.'

Q. Hasn't this been suggested before
Yes, the last time was in 1998. As a result, the editor at the time, Leigh Smith, was swamped with letters, telephone calls and emails from around the world.

Q. Will all seafarers agree with this move
Not likely, matey. The newspaper is anticipating a fairly hostile response from its more traditional readers, who see neutering all references to ships as an appeasement to 'extreme feminists' and the like.

However, the change is inevitable, says a spokesman for the seafarers' union, Numast. The union has referred to ships as 'it' for some time.

Q. Won't this take all the romance out of shipping
It's not such a romantic venture these days when ships are mass-produced and characterless. Says Numast, 'Many of the reasons that seafarers got romantic about their ships have disappeared.'

Julian Bray agrees that while he could understand why people might get dreamy about ocean liners, most of the ships Lloyd List wrote about were hulking old rust buckets anyway.

Q. So, that's it over then
Not quite, Julian Bray has allowed his columnists to use 'she' if they want to.

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