On Top of the Word

Geeking out with words at SN&R’s copy desk.


Did you know that attractive women can be professionally accomplished? Don’t be so surprised, instructs The Associated Press Stylebook 2013 under the entry for “women”:

“Physical descriptions, sexist references, demeaning stereotypes and condescending phrases should not be used.”

Well, yeah. The fact that this has to be explicitly stated in 2013 in the revised edition (yes, it’s been in there for years) implies that women are not being written about on equal terms as men.

So, here’s an example the writing guide gives:

“Copy should not express surprise that an attractive woman can be professionally accomplished, as in: Mary Smith doesn’t look the part, but she’s an authority on …

Don’t bother picking up your jaw, because in the next example, it instructs writers to avoid mentioning irrelevant family relations, calling Golda Meir “a doughty grandmother.” Harsh.

Words are fun!


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