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Lady Viking vs. Vikings

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As Howell’s fall athletic season came to an end, Twitter faced yet another polarizing divide when a teacher openly criticized the merit of the phrase “Lady Viking” in a tweet. Although some view the title as a way to convey the gender of competitors, the use of “Lady Viking” perpetuates the divide between male and female sports and diminishes the rigor of female athletics.

Title IX, a section of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, was the first notable stride towards the full integration of females into athletics by guaranteeing that no individual could be excluded from sports on the basis of sex. Since its inception, females have dominated their respective sports, crushing records, defying stereotypes, and gaining recognition from the public. Among these women, Simone Biles, the first woman to win four all-around world titles, and Serena Williams, the first tennis player to win 23 Grand Slam singles titles in the open era. However, despite the unrelenting stamina and skill exemplified by female athletes, full gender equality in sports has not been fully attained. Most visibly, this disparity is seen in the support for both male and female sports with the media only allocating four percent of television coverage to female athletics.

At Howell, the equality of genders in sports is apparent in the success of both male and female athletics which contributed to winning eight of nine GAC championships.  The use of “Lady Viking” to refer to these female athletes reduces their efforts in the connotation of the phrase itself. According to dictionary.com, lady is a woman who is refined, polite, and well-spoken, contradicting the nature of sports where tenacity, strength, and grit are crucial to the success of these programs.

When referring to a female pilot no individual says lady pilot. Likewise, no woman chief executive officer (CEO) is called a lady CEO. Thus, while those utilizing “Lady Viking” are doing so to identify the gender of athletes, the phrase isn’t necessary, for Vikings were merely a group of Norse seafarers who raided and traded, which means that gender specification is not applicable. Therefore, we should be conscious of the use of the phrase  “Lady Viking” so that we may provide our female athletes with the same dignity that they earn in their respective activities. In doing so, we may be able to truly rise as one.

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Lady Viking vs. Vikings