The Lady Hawks are dead. It’s a term that has been technically defunct since 2009.
The women’s basketball, soccer, swimming nor the cross country runners are referred to as such. If you still call them that, you only perpetuate an innocuous illustration of inequity of women’s rights.
The brain trust of the Las Positas College Athletics Department doesn’t see it as a small issue, more like a small example of a larger reality for women. It’s about respect and equality, and the continuous struggle to claim it on every level. Undoubtedly, strides have been made in America. But women still receive less pay for equal work. Women are still being told what to do with their bodies. And, even on this pretty little slice of college life in Livermore, women are still being stamped with labels of inferiority like lady. Unofficially, anyway.
“I call all my teams the Hawks,” said Dyan Miller, Athletic Director. “Not gentlemen and ladies, not boys and girls, but men’s and women’s.”
History professor TeriAnn Bengiveno said that the title lady hails back to the Victorian era. The term lady referred to women from the upper and middle classes. Poor white women were not seen as ladies but as working girls, and women of color did not look at themselves as “ladies”. Bengiveno feels that the word has no place in collegiate sports.
I think the term ‘lady’ is so antiquated,” said Bengiveno. “I don’t think we need to distinguish between a men’s and women’s team. I think it’ll be obvious to a spectator or a player which team is for which gender.”
Jeremiah Bodnar, a philosophy instructor, agrees with Bengiveno. Bodnar feels that the word can be viewed as outdated and no longer would apply to the way women are viewed today.
I think that the biggest reason is just that it seems that by default, sports belongs to men but there’s also women who do sports,” Bodnar said. “So you wouldn’t say there’s Doctors and Lady Doctors, you just say there’s doctors. “
When Miller took over the athletics department in 2009, the lady part of “Lady Hawks” was dropped. Mementos of past teams carrying that name sit in trophy cases. Though the jerseys have always said Las Positas, the moniker “Lady Hawks” followed the teams. The title “Home of the Lady Hawks” stayed on the women’s basketball website until early Oct. 2013. The history section of their website referred to the team as the Lady Hawks until the last update in 2011.
Sissi do Amor, current women’s soccer head coach, faced adversity in her home country of Brazil for being a women’s soccer player. She heard a lot of bad things and was called a lot of names. But she never gave up. Changes have been made in Brazil, but she feels that female athletes there are still looked down on.
“Many men there feel that women are not capable of doing things that were created for me,” said Sissi in an interview with Naked Magazine in 2008. “Maybe they have some kind of jealousy — they don’t want men to be better than them.”
Current women’s basketball coach Clarence Morgan was on both sides of the ball, having coached men’s teams as well. He’s never seen a need to coach the women differently.