Sexism and women studies

Lethbridge needs to abandon “alderman” for “councillor”

A group of citizens will present to Lethbridge City Council this Monday, advocating for changing the usage of “alderman” as a term for city council members to “councillor”. I support this change.

The equality of women has become more important to me as I have been back in school. I have taken several courses that discuss women’s right and feminist theory, and it is clear to me that while we have made strides in women being treated better than in the past, there are still institutional changes that need to be made before the hegemony of our patriarchal system is gone.

There has been quite a bit of discussion regarding this proposed change, and there are a few common arguments I wanted to address:

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This will cost too much money and that money could be spent on more important things.

The costs of this change in terms of money and time is negligible if the change is done when the next council is elected and most of those changes have to be made anyhow. Also, calling the equality of women unimportant (or at the very least, less important) does nothing to further their equality.

“Alderman” is a term that has come to refer to both men and women. It makes no difference what they’re called.

If it makes no difference, then why is there even a debate? The fact that people consider a male-dominated term like “alderman” to be acceptable for both genders is further evidence of how embedded the hegemony is in our society. Additionally, if the term doesn’t matter, then I assume supporters of maintaining the status quo would be fine with using “alderwoman” instead to refer to both male and female city council members.

There are more pressing issues requiring the time and attention of city council members.

Certainly there are issues requiring more of the attention and time of the city council. This is precisely why this non-issue should be dealt with. It will take hardly and time, we can be done with it, and city council can move onto the so-called more important issues.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The problem is that it is “broke”. Period.

Supporting the change is the socially responsible thing to do. There is no compelling reason to keep the archaic “alderman.” The Municipal Government Act uses “councillor,” and so do many communities across Alberta, even many smaller and more rural than Lethbridge.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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