GANGNEUNG, South Korea — If you’re watching Olympic figure skating right now, how many times have you heard the word “lady” or “ladies”?
Dozens by now, I’m sure.
Enough already. It’s way past time for the International Skating Union and the International Olympic Committee to end this antiquated and sexist tradition, enter the 20th century before too much more of the 21st century goes by, and start using a word that they really should become familiar with:
Woman. Or women.
It’s women’s figure skating. The competitors are women. (Or teenage girls, just as Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou were teenage boys in the men's event).
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This dainty, Victorian vision of young women must come to an end. Almost all members of the U.S. news media have used the term “women’s skating” for years. USA TODAY Sports has done it for two decades at least.
But the powers that be in figure skating? They’re still rooted somewhere back in the dark ages, when men were men, but women were ladies.
Words and labels matter. It’s 2018. If the ISU and IOC can't part with "ladies," then they have to use the term “gentlemen” for the men. It’s either men and women, or ladies and gentlemen, like at Wimbledon.
To mix and match as they are doing now sends the worst message at the worst possible time: that the ISU and IOC find sexist language acceptable, which is nothing if not acceptable.