BVI News

Renewed calls for gender-neutral language in HOA policies as ‘he’ reference peeves legislator

Speaker of the House of Assembly, Julian Willock has called for parliament’s Standing Orders — which are the policies that govern the House — to be amended for gender neutrality.

Willock made that call last Friday after Territorial At-Large Representative Shereen Flax-Charles accused Opposition Leader, Marlon Penn of continuously referring to her as ‘he’ while making a brief address in the House.

“The member (Penn), is referring to everything as ‘he’, and the last time I checked, I am not a ‘he’,” Flax-Charles said while responding to the Opposition Leader’s statement.

The Speaker, however, came to Penn’s defence, clarifying that he was merely citing an excerpt from the House’s Standing Orders document verbatim.

Penn also added to the conversation, arguing that the interpretation of the word ‘he’ is gender-neutral whenever it is mentioned in the Standing Orders.

Willock then stated: “I am going to call now on the Standing Orders Committee to fix the Standing Order so that it says ‘he or she’. So, I’m not relying on any interpretation.”

In response, Flax-Charles said she expects the language of the document to be corrected expeditiously.

Previous appeal months ago

This, however, is not the first occasion that a call has been made for the language of the House of Assembly’s Standing Orders to become more gender-sensitive. Second District Representative Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull had made a similar call late last year.

“I believe the time has come. I believe we are far past the time where we address the gender equality, the gender discrimination and the sensitivity to how the language of the Standing Orders and even the constitution is written,” Turnbull said at the time, adding that words such as ‘his’ and ‘chairman’ should be amended “to take into consideration the evolving nature and development … [of] women taking office”.

It has been more than six months since he made that statement.

Three women are among the total 13 legislators that make up the House of Assembly.

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10 Comments

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  1. Bvi says:

    Maybe we should get the word MAN in the bible change to so it can be gender neutral also. Because when the scriptures talk about man to my understanding it means woman to. So minister son help me out here .

    Like 7
    Dislike 2
    • Welcome to 2020. says:

      In 2020 women have equal rights to men. If you wish to revert back to your book that is over 2000 years old to tackle modern day topics, please rest assured you will not come over as someone who knows what life is about these days.

      Like 2
      Dislike 2
    • W.E Man says:

      I agree, a review of the Bible is long overdue, I believe the last time it was edited was over four hundred years ago.

      Like 2
      Dislike 5
  2. ccc says:

    Willock on it that means it will happen

  3. Local says:

    @BVI, I like how you you put it, as the bible says “MAN shall not live by bread alone.”

    Like 2
    Dislike 1
  4. hmmm says:

    If the the office of Gender Affairs was utilized for its original intended purpose, this would be a non-issue. Gender analysis and mainstreaming of legislation, policies, and programs have been replaced by social activities and services which is an overall ineffective use of Gender Affairs!

    Like 4
    Dislike 1
  5. E. Leonard says:

    Though there was probably no intended diss of women, it is the 21st Century so the olde language needs a a trip to the dung heap. This is not a heavy lift to respect and bring equality to our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, daughters, granddaughters and nieces. Below is but a few examples for starters:

    Chairman—-Chair, Chairperson
    Fireman—-Firefighter
    Man-hours—-Work-hours
    Mankind—-Human
    Policeman—-Police Officer
    Salesman—-Salesperson
    Businessman—-Businessperson
    Spokesman—-Spokesperson
    Landlord—-Property owner
    Layman—-Layperson
    Workman—-Worker
    Housewife—-Homemaker
    Maiden name—-Birth name
    Stewardess—-Flight attendant
    Cleaning lady/maid—-Domestic, Housekeeper
    Secretary——Office assistant, Executive assistant

    Like 10
    • Treat people as they want to be treated says:

      Excellent start Elton though my readings say that “chairperson” may be improper use of the language; so can we simply say “chair”.

      Additionally, there is a lot more to this “he or she” issue. I suggest that the BVI engages in thinking further ahead and also include the gender pronouns of “they” “them” as it is just a matter of time (short, I believe), when we too will be faced with that request.

  6. Milo says:

    Get with the times Be We Eye

  7. Treat people as they want to be treated says:

    Excellent start Elton though my readings say that “chairperson” may be improper use of the language; so can we simply say “chair”.

    Additionally, there is a lot more to this “he or she” issue. I suggest that the BVI engages in thinking further ahead and also include the gender pronouns of “they” “them” as it is just a matter of time (short, I believe), when we too will be faced with that request.

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