Imagine my surprise when, in the 21st century, you allowed a mid-20th-century sexist characterization of children to be published in your paper.
I was disappointed to read in the Smiley Anders column “Honorary Cajuns need love too,” published May 8. In it he quoted, apparently verbatim, a woman’s recounting of an event at Zachary Elementary School. His writer characterized a male child as a “young man” but referred to a female child as a “little girl.”
I do not think it is appropriate to refer to a male child as a “man” while a female child is referred to as a “girl.” In addition, the female child was characterized as “little,” while the male child was “young.” All children are either girls or boys; they are both young, and they are both little. Using such sexist adjectives sends the wrong message to our children: Boys, no matter what age, are always men, but girls are merely girls, and not women. If one is going to describe a boy as a “young man” in a sentence, then the girl should be described as a “young woman.”
This subtle form of gender discrimination is the most insidious kind of all, and needs to be eliminated from our vernacular, both printed and verbal. The printed medium is one of the best forums wherein to begin making such a change. Your editors should have caught this blatant contradiction, removed the quotation marks and assigned the proper gender description to both children: “girl” and “boy,” not “man” and “girl” before reintroducing the quotation marks.
Kathryn Bachman Page
retired museum curator and college professor