Stop saying that women are beautiful.

I was speaking at a conference recently. There were seven speakers in all - five women and two men. Each of us was introduced prior to our talk by one of the organizers.

During the introductions of three of the five female speakers, the organizer mentioned the woman's physical appearance.

"... the brilliant and beautiful..."

"... not only is she beautiful, but she is a published expert in her field..."  

"... a beautiful woman with a bold vision..."

Pay attention to the way women are introduced at events like this in the future. Their physical appearance is often mentioned as a part of the introduction, and almost always by other women.

Conversely, men's physical appearance is never mentioned. I have been introduced hundreds of times prior to a speech, story, or talk, and my physical appearance has never been included in the list of accolades or accomplishments. 

This needs to stop, for a few reasons:

  1. It's inappropriate. Physical appearance is irrelevant and should not be touted as a means of introducing a speaker. Doing so implies that beauty is just as important as the woman's professional accomplishments or academic pedigree. The last thing anyone should be talking about is what a woman looks like prior to listening to her speak.    
  2. When you mention the beauty of one female speaker but fail to do so for another female speaker (or even a male speaker), you risk hurting the feelings or offending the speakers whose physical appearance was unmentioned. I couldn't help but wonder if the two women whose physical appearance was not mentioned at that recent conference noticed the difference in introductory content. It was also interesting to note that the two women whose beauty was not mentioned were African American, while the other three were white.   
  3. Mentioning a woman's physical appearance during an introduction is sexist. The notion that we would include female appearance but not male appearance in an introduction implies that a woman's appearance is an important and relevant part of her value to society.   

Even if you can't agree with these first three reasons (and I honestly can't imagine any sane person not), here is one based solely on logic:

Unless the audience is comprised of blind people, mentioning that a woman is beautiful before she takes the stage is simply stating the obvious. The audience members are about to see the woman, and her beauty will therefore be apparent. From a logical standpoint, mentioning the physical appearance of a speaker is redundant and meaningless, because that beauty is about to take center stage.

This may seem like a small thing to you, but it is not. The perpetuation of the notion that a woman's physical appearance is an important part of her value and worth to society must be stopped whenever possible. This constant, public acknowledgement of the importance of a woman's appearance seems innocent enough, but it represents and reinforces the sexist, shallow, and stupid notions that we have about what is important in our culture. 

If you're introducing a female speaker, say nothing about her appearance. 

If you're a woman who is about to be introduced, make a point of asking that your physical appearance not be mentioned as a part of your introduction.

End this stupidity today. 

There is no female counterpart to the word “guys,” and that is a tragedy.

One of college supervisors’ favorite critiques of student-teachers is their use of the word “guys” when addressing the entire class, claiming that the word is gender specific and therefore inappropriate.

This critique is made for two reasons:

  1. College supervisors, in my experience, have very little to say that is critical of a student-teacher’s performance. They tend to heap an inordinate amount of praise upon student-teachers while rarely correcting anything that wasn’t written on paper prior to the lesson. I have yet to understand the rationale behind this culture of incessant praise, but it doesn’t make anyone a better teacher. So targeting the use of the word “guys” is a simple, non-threatening, and nearly universal form of criticism that supervisors can make without any actual critical analysis of the lesson or the student-teacher’s performance.

  2. As gender specific as “guys” may technically be, these college supervisors apparently spend no time with actual kids, who use the word “guys” in a non-gender way throughout the entire school day. Girls refer to other girls as “guys” all the time. Boys refer to girls as “guys.” Girls refer to boys as “guys.” Even my wife refers to her girlfriends as “guys.” It’s a word that is gender specific in definition only. 

But here’s the real problem:

There is no decent female counterpart to “guys.”

“Guys” is a great word. It serves a necessary purpose and does so with skill and aplomb. It denotes a group of people. By definition, this group should be males only, but this is rarely the case, because the feminine alternatives of this word are nonexistent.



And please don’t say “gals.” It’s no good. Use this word in almost any context and you’ll sound like an idiot.

If you live in the South, you have the option of “y’all,” which I actually like a lot, but again, if you use it outside the South, you sound like an idiot.

I’ve heard people use the word “ladies” as an alternative, but “ladies” lacks the casual ease of “guys.” “Ladies” is like a pretentious brunch. “Guys” is a like a burger and fries. 

And besides, there is a masculine counterpart to “ladies,” therefore maintaining “guys” singular status.  

So when I am working with a student-teacher, my solution to the “guys” issue is simple:

I make sure that I use the word in the presence of the college supervisor before my student-teacher does. This will either afford my student-teacher permission to use the word (if the teacher is modeling the use of the word, how can I fault her?), or it will cause the college supervisor to engage in a discussion about the use of the word, which is always highly entertaining.

The Today Show has cornered the market on young, white, blond, female kidnapping victims. You should stop watching.

The Today Show did a segment yesterday entitled Hannah’s Story.

As soon as I heard the promo for the segment at the opening of the show, I knew that the kidnapping victim would be young, white and probably blond.

Not surprising, I was right.


My wife heard me shout at the television in protest, and she argued that this was a national news story worthy of coverage. Even though I had yet to hear about Hannah and her presumably tragic kidnapping through my usual news sources, I believed her.

I’m sure that the mainstream media outlets covered this story closely, and perhaps justifiably so. I’m sure that The Today Show garnered millions of viewers for the segment.  

But I also don’t care. I refused to listen to a single word of Hannah’s Story.

This may come as a surprise to you, especially if you get your news primarily through sources like The Today Show and network news in general, but people are kidnapped in America every day, and some of them are not young.

Some of them are not female.

Some of them are not white.

Some of them are not blond.

Even though you can probably name half a dozen young, white, probably blond girls who have been kidnapped and murdered over the last decade,  there are African-American, Latino and Asian girls kidnapped and murdered all the time. Boys, too. And older people. Unattractive people, even. It happens every day. And in even greater numbers than young, white, blond girls.

But can you name even one?

Can you name a single African-American kidnapping victim from any point in American history?

For every Chandra Levy, Laci Peterson, Natalee Holloway, Taylor Behl, Elizabeth Smart or Jaycee Dugard (names that even I know despite my purposeful refusal to pay attention to these stories), can you name even one non-white kidnapping victim?

Or one male kidnapping victim?

Or a kidnapping victim over the age of 30?

I don’t know how other mainstream news sources cover kidnappings, but The Today Show has been specializing in young, white, oftentimes blond kidnapping victims for years, and they suck.

It’s a disgrace. I refuse to watch. You should, too.

My little girl playing football?

Have you heard about Erin DiMeglio, the first girl to play quarterback in a Florida high school football game? DeMeglio is the third string quarterback on a roster is filled with college prospects. “The star running back has committed to Miami, and its starting quarterback has offers from Navy and Air Force.”

She apparently has a cannon for an arm and has earned the respect of her teammates because of her skill and poise on the field .

DiMeglio had proved herself to the other players during spring and summer workouts, so when she officially joined the team, it was met with a respectful shrug. She has her own changing area in the girls’ locker room, and at the seven-on-seven camp last summer, she shared a room with the cheerleading coach. Otherwise, she is one of the guys, and they are protective of her.

As a father of a three year old girl, I read this story and had two divergent thoughts:

  1. Based upon the way I played tackle football and my frequent attempts to inflict bodily harm on my opponents, I would not want my little girl playing the game with a bunch of boys who are larger and stronger than she.
  2. I can’t imagine the pride that a father must feel upon learning that his little girl possesses the courage and inner fortitude required to play a game normally reserved for boys and men.

As the two opposing thoughts waged battle in my mind, I tried to imagine what I might say if Clara ever came to me and expressed a desire to play high school football.

Presuming she had the skills to play, it would be a tough call.

While I might attempt to steer her in the direction of a sport where her competition would consist of  fellow females, I can’t imagine stopping her from trying something that few people have ever attempted before.

That’s the thing about courage:  It cannot exist without risk.

If we protect our children from danger at every turn, we deny them the opportunity to be brave.

So no, I would not want my little girl to play on a boy’s football team, and yes, I would be bursting with pride if she did so.