On Wednesday, Chicago Tribune reporter Heidi Stevens wrote a story critical of President Obama for purportedly calling Solicitor General Elena Kagan a "trailblazing lady" in announcing her nomination to the Supreme Court:
In announcing his Supreme Court pick Monday, President Barack Obama called Kagan a "trailblazing lady." Come again?
"I don't think it was a good choice of words," says Midge Wilson, a DePaul professor who teaches psychology of women courses. " 'Lady' has a very restricted meaning — someone who conforms to certain societal expectations. It puts a woman on a pedestal and restricts her behavior to be polite and nonthreatening. An adult 'good girl.' "
In the late '60s and early '70s, Wilson says, feminists worked to effectively replace the word with "woman."
" 'Woman' is a word of empowerment. 'Lady' is a sissified word — like a ladies' tea club."
It could have been worse, of course. He could have called her "sweetie." Still, it raised eyebrows.
There was one major problem with Stevens' article however. The entire premise -- that Obama called Kagan a "trailblazing lady" -- was false.
In fact, yesterday the Tribune was forced to add an editor's note to the piece noting that the "premise of the original story was wrong."
Editor's note: The premise of the original story was wrong. Here is the correction: A Talk story in some Wednesday editions incorrectly reported that President Barack Obama characterized Elena Kagan, his nominee for Supreme Court, as a "trailblazing lady." In fact, Obama called her a "trailblazing leader."
Additionally, the Tribune also posted the following editor's note independent of Stevens' story:
Editor's note: A story published online and in some Wednesday editions incorrectly reported that President Barack Obama had characterized Elena Kagan, his nominee for Supreme Court, as a "trailblazing lady." In fact, Obama called her a "trailblazing leader." The premise of the story --that some critics objected to his use of the word "lady" -- was incorrect.