Human Rights Committee bans the word ‘suitcase’

Photo illustration by Joel McCarthy.
Photo illustration by Joel McCarthy.

Word deemed to be sexist becomes the latest target of BCHRC

By Aidan Mouellic, Contributor

In an era where political correctness is woven into the social fabric of society, it’s common for complaints to be brought forth on a daily basis to the British Columbia Human Rights Committee (BCHRC)—what isn’t common though is having such a massive backlash over decisions made by the BCHRC. In the past, the Committee has banned blatantly racist and offensive words from being publically used and has usually been met with support, until now. The latest word on the cutting block: suitcase.

The Committee has a policy of reviewing all words that have had at least two complaints filed against it, and the word suitcase has apparently received two complaints since the Committee’s founding in 1976. The complaints claim that the word suitcase is “too masculine” due to the ‘suit’ part of the word and that the word’s use is demeaning to women. Some members of the BCHRC made the point that many women also wear business suits and that the word suitcase is neither offensive nor gender-based, but the only female member of the committee retorted, saying that “women are forced into business suits by a male-dominated workforce” and that she hopes one day to be allowed to “wear a dress to work and not feel like she is dressing up as Hillary Clinton on a daily basis.”

The Human Rights Committee in BC consists of three members who review complaints and the member in favour of making the word suitcase illegal is the aforementioned female member. The decision to ban certain words is put to a vote, with the process being open to the public. British Columbians generally don’t pay much attention to the activities of the BCHRC and only five votes were cast: three from committee members and two from the complainants. The complainants won by one vote.

Since the decision was made, the public outcry has been rising at an alarming rate. In a political poll done by Facebook, 99.99 per cent of Canadians do not support banning the word suitcase, but 75 per cent of Canadians were in favour of banning the word “epic.” Alan Fields, a student at Douglas College, says that he sees nothing sexist about suitcases but cannot stand it when “the stupid fucking ‘epic parties’ I’m invited to on Facebook are always terrible and not epic.”

It seems that Canadians care more about false advertising than issues of potential sexism. The fine for businesses being caught selling ‘suitcases’ has been set at $550; the government is recommending the word choice used by business be changed to simply “case” or “clothing-bag.”