Thursday, August 8, 2013
How women are erased in patriotic songs
When Caroline Kline recently attended a patriotic program at the school where her young son, a first-grader, attends, she was surprised by two characteristics of many of the songs the children had learned: (1) Many songs referred to God—even though this was a public school. And since the lyrics for many of them were written long ago, they used exclusively male pronouns in referring to the Deity. (2) Women were entirely excluded in spite of all the contributions and sacrifices women, as well as men, have made throughout U.S. history. Here, on our EEWC-CFT website and in our conferences, we’ve talked a lot about language and inclusiveness in the church, but have you given much thought to how these same issues are present in many other areas of our lives, including expressions of patriotism and American civil religion in songs, poems, political speeches, and everyday life in general? Caroline writes: “The next time my son has a program at school, I’m going to pay a bit more attention to what he’s singing, have a discussion with him about inclusive word choices, and maybe even kindly ask the teacher if it would be possible to alter some language.” Caroline Kline, a Ph.D. student, wrote this article, “Women’s Erasure in Patriotic Songs” for the Feminism and Religion blog affiliated with the Women’s Studies and Religion program at Claremont Graduate University (which co-sponsored our 2004 EEWC Conference held in Claremont, California).