14 November

Carol repair

Many traditional carols are sexist but some of them can be fixed:

  • In “Mary’s Boy Child”, change “Man will live forever more” to “We will live forever more”.
  • In “Good King Wenceslas”, change “Therefore Christian men be sure” to “Therefore Christians all be sure”.
  • In “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, change “Peace to men on earth” to “Peace to all on earth”.
  • In “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, change “Goodwill to men” to “Goodwill to all”, and change “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep” to “God is not dead and doth not sleep” (or “God is not dead, nor doth She sleep” if you prefer).

You can see the pattern here and you may find other places to apply it but some carols are less malleable. For example, a later verse of “Jingle Bells” says “Take the girls tonight and sing this sleighing song” which fits the world view of straight men and lesbians, but not of straight women and gay men.[1]

De-sexing carols.

Christmas Day 1970: Around eight thirty, Nanna got out a tin of sweets she had been given by one of her students. Uncle Bill groaned and spoke of torture but he still ate a few, which I thought was hypocritical.[2] I had a lolly too (but I hadn’t complained I was too full to move) and found that the assortment was one of those that masqueraded as chocolate but was mostly toffee and, even at the age of eight, I was disappointed when I got vanilla fudge instead of chocolate truffle.[3]

[1] I assume that the tailoring of this song to lesbians was a happy accident rather than a deliberate inclusion!

[2] With all the pompous self-righteousness a primary school kid can bring to an ethical issue.

[3] My cousin Brian said that it was also hard to get the chocolate you wanted from a box of Cadbury Roses because the colours on the key were so misleading that they should be called “Cadbury Ruses” instead.

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