Mighty Red Pen

February 12, 2008

What’s in a name?

Filed under: Word wars — mighty red pen @ 8:46 pm
Tags: , , , ,

There’s a bit of a kerfuffle here in Metrowest Boston over the Natick High School mascot, the Redmen.

redmen.jpg

Some time ago, a movement in Natick against the name led to a vote by the school committee to change it. Now another movement wants to bring it to the people, and the town’s selectmen voted 5-0 to put it to a town-wide nonbinding vote on March 25.

As so often is the case in these situations, it’s tradition versus sensitivity (some say PCness), and in a way, never the twain shall meet. For one side, it’s an issue of changing the name — which many find offensive, insensitive, and racist (not many mention that it’s also sexist) — to something that everyone can be proud of. For the other side, it doesn’t seem to matter what the issue is, they want to stick by the name, whether it’s the Natick Redmen or the Natick Doodlebugs.

A commenter on a local message board suggested, “Sometimes a name is just a name, not a political statement.” What do you think?

More on boston.com, wickedlocal.com, and NECN.

Photo from boston.com.

6 Comments »

  1. Why don’t people protest the Dallas Cowboys? Are Native Americans offended by the Natick Redmen?

    Regarding the sexist claim, is it because women are excluded from the mascot or is it because men are singled out for this insensitive remark? Which gender is offended by this?

    Comment by Frank Drone — February 13, 2008 @ 2:44 pm | Reply

  2. Why don’t people protest the Dallas Cowboys? Are Native Americans offended by the Natick Redmen?

    because cowboys, to the best of my knowledge, are not a particularly marginalized group. native americans certainly have been and continue to be, and “reds”, “red savages” & “redmen” are pejorative terms for that ethnicity.

    Regarding the sexist claim, is it because women are excluded from the mascot or is it because men are singled out for this insensitive remark? Which gender is offended by this?

    i might be missing something but it seems to me that the simple answer is, it would be weird (at least logistically & in terms of language) for a girls’ field hockey team to be the Redmen. would the boys’ basketball team want to be the Fightin’ Lionesses?

    Comment by nikita — February 13, 2008 @ 2:56 pm | Reply

  3. I think in all fairness, the boys should be encouraged to embrace their more nurturing side and after all this time, some effort at equitable resolution should be made. Justice suggest the girls should get favored over the boys for a time because since time immemorial it has been the other way.

    I suggest: The Natick Nannies. Destiny displays her tender touch in approving alliteration!

    Comment by David — February 13, 2008 @ 3:43 pm | Reply

  4. They could change it to the Natick Wildcats. That seems to be a popular team name, and it’s not gender specific. Plus with the popularity of High School Musical they have a built in song to sing.

    Wildcats sing along
    Yeah, you really got it goin’ on
    Wildcats in the house
    Everybody say it now
    Wildcats everywhere
    Wave your hands up in the air
    That’s the way we do it
    Lets get to it
    Time to show the world

    Or not.

    Comment by Molie — February 13, 2008 @ 7:36 pm | Reply

  5. Even better, the girls’ teams are actually called “Lady Redmen.”

    Frank, in answer to your first question, there are examples of Native Americans who have said they’re offended by the name and some who have said they are not offended. For instance, here’s an article from the MetroWest Daily News.

    The Native Americans who lived in what is today Natick are the Praying Indians. These are the Native Americans who some say are being honored by the name “Redmen.” The Praying Indians’ Chief Caring Hands last year released a statement that concluded that the continuing use of the name was, in her opinion, “racist and offensive.”

    Comment by mightyredpen — February 13, 2008 @ 8:15 pm | Reply

  6. […] Related post: What’s In a Name?  […]

    Pingback by Just say no to Natick Redmen « Mighty Red Pen — March 21, 2008 @ 6:12 pm | Reply


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