The Committee members shuffled papers and snapped locks on briefcases. Coffee orders were taken and promptly delivered before withdrawal symptoms set in. The small bowls of lollies were passed from hand to hand and rapidly emptied. The cream biscuits were always popular comestibles, except for those who believed in the fattening effects of dairy-based products. Otherwise they were simply scoffed down with slurps of tea or coffee. Chocolate biscuits had been banned after an unfortunate incident involving The Chocolate Orgasm, otherwise known as The Tim Tam Slam, the Heimlich manoeuvre and an emergency clean up response crew from Domestic Hygiene.
The Chair of Non-specific Gender motioned for the meeting to start.
“First order of business: Inappropriate Adjectival Colour Nomenclature in the emergent adult nursery rhyme Baa Baa Black Sheep.”
Mutters of consternation rippled along the table. Tortoise shell spectacles and twin set cardigans were shuffled back into place. Spectacle chains rattled on pearl necklaces.
The Chair raised his hand and the murmurs ceased. “It is clearly understood that ‘black’ as a colour nomenclature is not appropriate. While as a colour designation it allows for a stunning example of alliteration in conjunction with onomatopoeia for pre-educational individuals, it has been suggested the adjectival colour nomenclature of the sheep contains racial overtones derogatory to the descendants of African origin. It is out task to determine another adjectival colour nomenclature. What other colours can we propose?”
“How about ‘Baa baa blue sheep? It maintains the alliterative structure of the nursery rhyme and has no apparent discriminatory overtones.”
From the other end of the desk came a response. “Blue is a stereotypical boys’ colour and we’d only be reinforcing the inherent patriarchal notions of gender, subjugating the feminine and universal womanhood.”
“What about pink, then?”
“Then you’re espousing matriarchal hegemony, which while brings a measure of equality back into society, only serves to reinforce the stereotypical colour of femininity for girls.”
“Baa baa red sheep?” someone else volunteered.
“It will give you the socialist vote, however I don’t see them reciting a chant that programs an economic model of the mode and means of production where the sheep has to give up its hard grown wool for the sake of a snotty young capitalist.”
A snort of muted laughter drew attention. “Three words: feminine hygiene product. I wonder if there’s a commercial featuring sheep playing tennis, running along beaches and generally being carefree?”
“And you can discount the colour grey as a monotonous capitalist framework for serving the system.”
“What about purple?”
“Historically it’s the colour of royalty. The monarchists would be saluting with Earl Grey Tea from their Wedgewood china cups. Especially with a royal wedding front and centre of the public eye at the moment. However, the republicans wouldn’t stand for it.”
“Too many colonial and imperialist overtones. And besides, it’s too bland. It’s like vanilla ice cream; everyone eats it, but no one really enjoys it.”
“Well, sheep aren’t really an Asian thing are they?”
“It gives you the environmental vote, but then you’ve lost the capitalist community.”
“Too Dutch. Have you ever watched a sporting event where they are playing? It’s an eye sore seeing a wall of orange.”
“Can I suggest ‘Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep’?”
“The rainbow has been appropriated by the GLBT community so come Mardi Gras time you could sing about sheep all you want. But then you’ve marginalised the heterosexual community and let’s face it, they are the ones currently filling the majority of vacancies in formative adult nurturing centres and pre-educational institutions.”
There was a pause as the committee stalled at the lack of remaining colours. An impasse looked inevitable. A voice broke their ruminations.
“I think we are overlooking a very important part of this nursery rhyme.”
The committee looked towards the member.
“Well, if you ask me, isn’t this little ditty a little bit species-ist? Why does it have to be a sheep? What about other wool-bearing animals: llamas, alpacas, goats? Shouldn’t they have a say in all of this?”