I had a Twitter conversation with a few people last night over the use of “Lady” before a team mascot name to denote women’s sports versus men’s sports at the high school and college levels.
One person made the argument that by having the “Lady” qualifier, women’s sports are being separated and there’s an implication that they aren’t on the same level as men’s.
The other person felt that getting upset over the use of “Lady” was taking political correctness too far. They said they’d never even thought about the topic until someone else brought it up and felt that there was no underlying problem with differentiating between the two.
A quick internet search didn’t pull up any history in terms of the first use of “Lady,” but I hypothesized last night that the origin may have come from newspapers needing a way to distinguish between the teams when covering the sports.
It also likely had its origin in the early part of the 20th century, when being called a “Lady” would have been flattering and possibly used as a way to feminize sports and the athletes who played them.
One of the things I most hate about the use of the “Lady” qualifier is when it creates incongruous names. Here in Milwaukee there’s a Catholic high school who’s nickname is the Popes, meaning the girls teams are known as the Lady Popes.
There are a few cases where the “Lady” moniker has gone beyond use in recaps and has become an accepted part of the team’s name. The Tennessee women’s basketball team is known as the Lady Vols.
As someone who’s had to write recaps of four games at one school in one night, I appreciate the ability to have the “Lady” qualifier at my disposal to be able to help differentiate the articles and make sure the reader knew which sport was being discussed
I also admit to being annoyed when I go to my favorite college’s website and read a headline and am not sure which team is being discussed, so in that way I would appreciate the use of “Lady.”
But those are both opinions tempered by my background in journalism. I can see the need to have a way to distinguish between the men’s and women’s sides for clarity and that tends to outweigh my feminist instinct on the matter.
I find myself not particularly bothered by the use of “Lady,” but I feel like I should be more annoyed. Normally any sort of distinction that separates women from men would get my hackles up, so I’m not sure why I’m so unmoved by this issue.
What do you all think? Acceptable usage or inappropriate separation tactic? Does the very mention of a “Lady” team make your blood boil and you start yelling “Oh hell no!” or are you as ambivalent as I am?