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posted: 6/15/2013 5:00 AM

Let's ban the phrase 'women and children'

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"The American soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians, many of them women and children ..." -- Daily Herald, June 6.

Why "women and children"? Why not "men and children"? Or better still, why not just "children"? When children die -- or suffer some other tragedy -- it is newsworthy because they are helpless innocents at the beginning of things, and as such their deaths are especially poignant. To lump women in with children is to suggest they are as helpless as children. This is sexist in the extreme.

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Also, to single out the Afghan women for special mention suggests that the men who died were of no consequence. A blunt way of phrasing what the Afghan example implies would be, "Four women and children were killed. Oh, by the way, 12 men were killed, too."

Newspapers invariably phrase it, "The fire left 10 homeless, including women and children." And, "The tornado killed 14, including women and children." And, "When the ocean liner sank, 32 died, including women and children."

Are the lives of men so little valued? What if the phrasing had been, " ... killing 16 Afghan civilians, many of them men and children ..."? That's an obvious and deliberate slight to women and no newspaper would print it.

When such tragedies strike, whatever their nature, it should always be, " ... including children." To single out either gender for special mention along with children is an affront to both genders. It belittles the omitted gender and declares the specified gender as just like children.

Don Frost

Rolling Meadows

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