female-symbol1Women have, arguably, gained wider acceptance in the maritime sector. This is especially true in Western societies, where more women are making their mark and being recognised in what’s traditionally been a male-dominated industry. But what about the rest of the planet? IMO (International Maritime Organization) has 170 member states and three associate members (Faroe Islands, Hong Kong and Macau). Have the old prejudices toward women really gone away? The following image suggests that they have not:


It’s a little composition, a ditty, that you see nicely framed and displayed in ship’s galleys and wardrooms, in shipping offices and in bars frequented by seamen. It can be purchased from online nautical gift shops. One tanker management company even has it on its website. The text reads:

A ship is called a ‘she’ because there is always a great deal of bustle around her; there is usually a gang of men about; she has a waist and stays; it takes a lot of paint to keep her good looking; it is not the initial expense that breaks you, it is the upkeep; she can be all decked out; it takes an experienced man to handle her correctly; and without a man at the helm, she is absolutely uncontrollable; she has her topsides, hides her bottom and, when coming into port, she always heads for the buoys.

For sure, men – and some women, we suspect – will find it amusing. The discerning, however, will realise that the words are sexist as they promote and perpetuate a certain stereotype of women. If this is humour, it is humour at women’s expense.

Simone de Beauvoir, the French existentialist philosopher and social theorist, once wrote: ‘Every time we liberate a woman, we liberate a man.’ Maybe so, but as things stand, it is the men who seem to be in greater need of liberation. ~Barista Uno

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