Caroline Kline says women are made invisible in patriotic songs

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Read “Women’s Erasure in Patriotic Songs by Caroline Kline.”

When Caroline Kline 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 the Christian Feminism Today 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).


Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.


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