In last week’s “View From the Bench” commentary, The Lincoln County News asked readers to weigh in on using the term lady for female sports teams. And weigh in they did. Over 200 people responded by phone, email, in person, or in lively discussions on Facebook.
Over 90 percent of respondents want to keep their Lady Eagles, Lady Panthers, Lady Wolverines, and Lady Seahawks. Thank you to everyone on both sides of the issue for your responses and frank discussion.
Female athletes, both present and former, voiced their overwhelming support for the use of lady, as did many community members.
Wiscasset Middle High School female athletes met March 22 with Athletic Director Mandy Lewis and student athlete Stephanie Jones to discuss the topic. Their consensus was that they “don’t mind being referred to as either the Wolverines or the Lady Wolverines.”
Lincoln Academy students discussed the issue in adviser groups last week. One student asked, “Why are we worrying about this when there are more important things to discuss, like global warming and terrorism?”
Lincoln Academy student athlete Bailey Plourde took a poll of female athletes for the LCN. She had “47 responses and 63 percent of them said they would like to be called “Lady Eagles.”
The purpose of an earlier, satirical commentary on mascots was to get people talking and to address the issue that was brought up by Tom Tripp in a letter to the editor three weeks ago. And for the most part, the passionate dialogue that followed was respectful.
Some of the comments: “We are proud to be called Lady Eagles.” “We have always been the Lady Seahawks.” “It is what differentiates them from the boys.” “It draws positive attention to them as female athletes.” “I looked forward to becoming a Lady Eagle.” “It is something to aspire to when you get to high school. I view it as a positive thing. It sets them apart from the boys and gives girls their own identity.” “My opinion is, when you finally get your skills elevated enough to be a varsity player and you happen to be a ‘girl’ you get called a ‘lady …’ It’s out of respect.”
One reader wrote, of opposition to the term, “This is the kind of nonsense that makes real feminism seem trite. This is the same mindset that trivializes the real issues that women face. Being called a ‘lady’ is not an insult, nor is it a compliment. It is a modifier and I think as long as there are male and female athletes there will be modifiers used. Carry on!”
Another reader wrote: “Definitely keep using the term ‘lady’ to differentiate between the girls and the boys teams. I think of it as a term of respect for lady athletes and believe it contributes to them behaving as ladies overall.”
A Georges Valley female graduate wrote “Using ‘ladies’ in the paper makes it simpler for anyone looking for sports results to find what they’re looking for quickly.”
One father of three girls who graduated from Lincoln Academy called and said, “all three of my girls were Lady Eagles, and proud of it!”
I was asked if I was ever called a lady sports reporter. And if so, didn’t I find it offensive? I have been called the lady who takes pictures for the paper. I have overheard students say at games, “The lady from the paper is here.” Kids have asked me, “Aren’t you the lady that takes pictures for the paper?” Did I find this offensive? No, I did not. The kids were not using the term lady in a negative way; they used the term lady to describe me as a female photographer.
What I do find offensive is when I was told at a state wrestling meet (while sitting on the floor and not touching the mat) that I need to sit 10 feet away from the mat while taking pictures, while male photographers were allowed to sit on the mat. And when I asked why the male photographers were allowed to sit on the mat, an official threatened to throw me out of the Augusta Civic Center. That I find offensive.
I find it offensive when I am told to take pictures outside the fence at a KVAC championship softball game, but a male photographer is allowed to shoot the entire game on the field inside the fence. That I find offensive.
I find it offensive when I am told I cannot take pictures from a spot, so move, only to have two male photographers stand in the same spot. When I point out the injustice, a Bangor Auditorium staff member threatens to have me arrested and thrown in jail. That I find offensive.
Do I find it offensive to be called a lady? Not in the least.
Many people have asked me what I think about the lady mascot issue. I think it is perfectly OK to use the term lady if it is used in a positive way, like identifying the gender of a team. I do not see it as a sexist term, as derogatory or demeaning. When I use the term lady in a story, it is not to diminish female athletes, but instead to highlight the girls and cast them in a positive light.
The community has spoken passionately on the issue, and overwhelming they have spoken in favor of keeping their ladies. They take pride in their lady teams. They LOVE their Lady Eagles, their Lady Panthers, their Lady Seahawks, and their Lady Wolverines!
We live in a democracy. Female athletes and the community have spoken. The ladies have it by a landslide!