Letters to the editor – March 25, 2021

‘Cattlemen’ is not gender specific

Views have been put forward about a name change for the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association, so I, as a cattle owner, am going to weigh in on the discussion. I attended the annual “Zoom” meeting of the SCA and as such here are my views.

Gender neutral job titles may be debatable as to whether a title is gender-specific or not.

Most people in the livestock industry use the term cattlemen as generic rather than that of a masculine term. Cattlemen is a term used throughout the ages as men and women who are stewards of cattle operations. 

Cattle most certainly is a gender neutral term and many masculine forms can in fact serve as “gender neutral” terms. The term chairman of a meeting is one such example, appearing to denote male but is also applied to female. Many such terms are used as such: actor, author, poet, comedian, usher, nurse and even midwife.

Ranchers, farmers or producers can be referred to as cattlemen. The words rancheress, farmeress or produceress are somewhat cumbersome.

Names are identity and the names of rancher, farmer, producer, and cattlemen all depict caretakers of the land and livestock, regardless of gender.

We now ranch and farm on the land that my grandparents on both sides of my pedigree homesteaded. I am very proud and appreciative of the strength and endurance of my grandmothers, who both raised seven children — not an easy task in those days — as well as shared the workload of land and livestock and were proud to be labelled cattlemen.

The English language evolved through most of its history in a male-centred patriarchal society. It entails language grammar that requires nouns to be placed in one of several classes, often including feminine and masculine terms combined. 

Nouns for persons are not always constrained to be inherently masculine or feminine, and the production of totally gender-neutral titles may be adequately used. 

Many examples can readily be cited: penmanship, marksmanship, showmanship, horsemanship. Some of the best horsemen and showmen in the industry in my opinion are in fact women.  

The human race is referred to as mankind. Many articles are manmade, referring to being made by humans instead of by nature — notice the word human, not huwoman. Other examples are manhunt, manpower, manhandle, manslaughter, man eater — all related to both male and female genders.

Before all this trivia is washed down a manhole — heaven forbid this word is changed — we should reconsider how cattlemen themselves would prefer to be identified. Some people will never be pleased, so as an association we must please ourselves.

The idea of a name change was brought forward and maybe will be brought forward again. Cattlemen selling cattle in Saskatchewan pay a check-off fee to be administered by the SCA. So if you pay this fee and it is retained by the SCA for administration, you are eligible to vote on recommendations brought forward by its members. This, my friends, is called democracy.

Bryce Burnett,

Swift Current, Sask.

Politicians must speak for the people

There are certain benefits to those who hold memberships. An important part of membership in any company or organization is to both participate in the development and reap the rewards of plans that have been put into place.

Right now, a small number of Albertans hold a very important membership in an organization that has the ability to dramatically shape the future of our province.

Perhaps it is the old Wildrose background that formed my political upbringing. Maybe it is the hope of something more for the province I love and call home. It could also be the heavy weight of disappointment that I have pressing down on my optimism for a stronger Alberta.

I was led to believe that democracy was for the people and by the people, that there was a healthy pride and conviction in having grassroots governance for Alberta.

I look out over the prairies, hills, valleys and mountain ranges and question where that conviction of grassroots democracy has disappeared to. I do not see it taking form in our elected officials, who are to speak with our voice, not the voice of partisanship.

I am not seeing that democracy taking any steps forward when I listen to speeches, directives, shifting sand policy and make-you-forget feel-good announcements. There seems to be a lack of deep soul-searching within the elected UCP to reflect on the reasons each one claimed to campaign on. Was it to truly represent those to whom your seat is indebted?

All these questions and wondering brings me back to the benefits that I have as a member of an organization, an organization that claims that our leaders, elected by the membership, need to listen. Ignore us at your own peril.

Has the time come to take back our own voices, to challenge those who claim to rule and govern over Alberta? Membership has its benefits still, and perilous times could be coming for those who have ignored the masses for too long.

Is Alberta stranded? I ask you, does membership have its privileges? The time has come for a leadership review.

Sandra Kim,

Wetaskiwin, Alta.

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