Women’s sports teams no longer referred to by gender term

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The term ‘Lady Mustangs’ will no longer be used to refer to the women’s sports teams at Delta College said Dr. Daryl Arroyo, Division Dean of Humanities, Social Science, Education, Kinesiology and Athletics.

“It seems dated,” he said. “You don’t see ‘Gentleman Mustangs.’”

There are currently nine women’s sports teams at Delta: basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, track & field, volleyball and water polo.

Beach volleyball, a new women’s sports team, will begin play in Spring 2018.

In the future, all ten women’s sports teams will be referred to as ‘The Mustangs.’

Delta’s men’s sports teams already use that athletic nickname.

The 1970s Women’s Movement inspired an examination of how language plays a role in both women’s oppression and women’s liberation.

Since then, efforts have been made to replace gender-specific language with language that is gender-neutral.

The objective is to create inclusiveness and eliminate bias.
The reason why Delta has continued to use the term Lady Mustangs is unknown.

“Language matters,” said Linguistics Professor Ulrike Christofori.

By calling a team “… Lady Mustangs, as opposed to Mustangs, you are ‘marking’ it.”

In Linguistics, markedness is the state of standing out as unusual in comparison to a more common form.

The unmarked term is considered dominant and normal. The marked term is perceived to be secondary and irregular.

Policewoman, stewardess and actress are marked terms that were used in the past to refer to females in male-dominated professions.

Police officer, flight attendant and actor are the unmarked terms that are used now.

Inclusive sports language was less important before the enactment of Title IX in June 1972.

Title IX was a federal civil rights statute that was enacted to end gender discrimination in public schools.

It required that schools and colleges receiving federal money provide the same opportunities for girls as for boys.

Before Title IX, fewer than 30,000 women participated in college sports.

In 2012, Title IX celebrated its 40th anniversary.

President Barack Obama was asked to reflect on its impact on women’s sports by Newsweek.

“… It wasn’t so long ago that something like pursuing varsity sports was an unlikely dream for young women in America. Their teams often made do with second-rate facilities, hand-me-down uniforms, and next to no funding,” he wrote.

At that time, there were over 190,000 female collegiate athletes.

This was an increase of more than 600 percent.

Adrienne Sorenson, head coach of the women’s soccer team, said she supported Arroyo’s decision.

“The women who participate on athletic teams at Delta College are student-athletes, period. I like the unity that “Mustangs” provides every student-athlete at Delta regardless of gender.”

Women’s softball team member Eryn McWhorter had a different reaction.

“I never thought it really mattered if we were called Lady Mustangs or just Mustangs.”

Referring to Delta’s women’s athletic facilities, she said “We have this here so we can do it.”