Everton Ladies, along with Yeovil Town Ladies, are the only two teams in in the top division of the FA Women’s Super League that have not changed their name to Women.
Interestingly, the two teams came in at the bottom of the table last season.
Isn’t it time to join the twenty-first century?
Everton’s Merseyside rivals, Liverpool, not only finished three spots above them in the table last season, but they also beat them to making the name change in July. New manager Neil Redfearn said of the new name:
“We are entering a new era for women’s football and this is an ideal time to review every aspect of our team, to ensure we are set up for future success. The renaming of my refreshed squad is just one aspect we’re looking at and fits perfectly with the overall move towards a more modern and inclusive game.”
CEO Peter Moore said that it was an “obvious choice.”
Chelsea changed their name to Women in May 2018 and stopped calling the men’s team the “first” team. Their website stated:
“The new name reflects Chelsea’s position as a leading club within the sport. It is representative of a modern view on language and equality, and is in keeping with the way our governing bodies, supporters, squad and management regard the women’s game.”
Goalkeeper Carly Telford, who also plays for England, told the Daily Telegraph:
”You wouldn’t call it ‘Chelsea gentlemen’, so why would you call us ladies?
”If I was to describe myself as a ‘strong independent lady’ it probably wouldn’t have as much punch as if I described myself as a ‘strong independent woman’.
”There are all those connotations of what a lady stands for as opposed to what a woman stands for. I think it will make people sit up, maybe take more notice.”
Even several of the second tier of the FA women’s league have gone through the name change, notably Sheffield United Women.
Manchester United may have gotten a lot of flack for not having a women’s team for several years, but now that they have joined the second tier of the FA WSL, they chose to go with Women instead of Ladies. Manchester City changed their name to Women back in 2014.
Arsenal changed to Women in 2017 and the club noted that they would only use the “Women” title when “official clarity” is needed. Former captain, Alex Scott, said of the name change:
“The term ‘Women’ delineates between men and women without as many stereotypes or preconceived notions and it is in keeping with modern-day thinking on equality.”
Words matter. As linguist Noam Chomsky wrote, “language is primarily a means of constructing thought.” When you hear the word lady, do you think of a footballer? Could you imagine the United States Women’s National Team being called the United States Ladies’ National Team?, or the English Women’s National Team being called the English Ladies’ National Team?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a woman as: “An adult human female.”
The dictionary’s definition of lady is: “A polite or formal way of referring to a woman.”
Lady can also mean: “A courteous, decorous, or genteel woman.”
Historically, in the UK, it means: “A title used by peeresses, female relatives of peers, the wives and widows of knights, etc.”
The dictionary also points out that in the United States, it can be used as a rude way to talk to a woman, the equivalent of using the term mister for men, as in “Move it, lady.”
Needless to say, the Everton players would be better defined as women because it’s, well, the year 2018 — and we aren’t talking about formalities, outdated conceptions of where women fit in, or a knight’s widow. We’re talking about talented, world-class footballers.
Robin Lakoff, noted linguist and author of “Language and Woman’s Place” stated that referring to female professionals as “lady” “fortunately seems to have dropped out of existence.” Yet at Goodison Park, the moniker remains.
Of course, it’s unfair to say that the club hasn’t taken major strides in its treatment of the women’s team.
The Everton Ladies rolled out the fabulous pink and black away kits under the “first in women’s football” campaign, an initiative aimed towards creating “real and meaningful change.” The video was very well done but it would've had a stronger impact with a name change announcement attached to it.
The squad’s preseason tournament in Gibraltar showed the increase in resources the club has to a team that went full-time in 2017. The coverage of the Ladies team via social media has also improved. There are more photos, Instagram stories, and footage of walkouts. Things are getting better but a move away from the antiquated ladies and towards a more modern name would show that the club is serious about being the best of the best in women’s football.
But there’s still time before their season starts on August 26th!
Come on you Blue Women!
Head over to @EvertonLadies instagram story as me and my roomie @Hannahjadecain take over for the day! See what we are up to on game day 2 in Gibraltar! pic.twitter.com/5jidVwZX81— Danielle Turner (@danturner11) August 8, 2018