Waking Up to Woke

Updated: Mar 8

You'll never guess what the woke brigade now want us to call mums and dads...

Silhouette of a family holding hands watching the sun set.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines woke as being 'alert to injustice in society, especially racism.' That's defintely a good thing. But, come on, there has to be a limit to how far woke tentacles can reach...

Last week, as you may have read, an NHS Trust in Brighton started using the word “chestfeeding” instead of “breastfeeding”. This new term is meant to be more “gender-inclusive”. Of course, when you read last week’s story, you might well have thought: “What!”

However, the woke revolution has now reached the other side of the world. Academics at an Australian university not only endorse the term “chestfeeding” - they recommend alternatives to “mother” and “father”, too. The proposals appear in Australia National University’s Gender Institute Handbook. Instead of “mother”, the authors suggest “gestational parent”. Instead of “father”, they suggest “non-birthing parent”. Perhaps this is something to do with Facebook shutting down the social sharing of news? But probably not.

A spokesman for the university says the document is not official policy. Phew! Quite apart from anything else, the idea sounds wildly impractical. After all, if we had to replace every instance of “mother” and “father”, it would be a major kerfuffle.

Welsh choirs would be forced to sing Land of My Non-Birthing Parents. On Christmas morning, excited children would open presents left under the tree by Non-Birthing Parent Christmas. At bedtime, children would hear about how Old Gestational Parent Hubbard went to the cupboard.

The most peculiar thing about the whole business, though, is that these new words are designed to avoid causing offence - but in reality, the opposite may be true. Take the term “gestational parent”. As well as ugly, it’s terribly reductive. It reduces motherhood to pregnancy. As if that’s all a mother is: a womb.

Which is, of course, nonsense. On Mothering Sunday - or, as future generations may know it, Gestational Parenting Sunday - we don’t send cards thanking our mothers for how well they gestated us. Nor do we present them with novelty coffee mugs decorated with a love heart and the phrase “World’s Best Gestater”.

It's hard to believe for a moment that anyone actually is offended by the words “mother” and “father” - or indeed the words “breastfeeding” and “breast milk”. Has anyone on Earth - no matter what their gender identity - ever claimed to feel hurt or excluded by those words?

All that’s happened, it seems, is that some high-minded busybodies have decided to take offence on other people’s behalf. And by doing so, they’ve managed to create a fuss out of nothing.

Still, you never know. The busybodies may yet get their way. Their contrived jargon may end up supplanting plain English everywhere. In which case, just imagine how sex education will be taught.