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University censors ‘Every Man A Lute’ football slogan: Fails at ‘inclusivity’

Suggests that women aren’t human beings

For more than 40 years, Pacific Lutheran University’s football team has been governed by a saying – “Every Man A Lute” – that represents the practice of “building good character.”

It was coined by the Lutes’ legendary coach “Frosty” Westering, who gave each player a handbook that laid out EMAL’s concept of honing your own “Inner Game” through psychological and spiritual training. “EMAL” also became popular among the PLU student body.

But the administration seems to be growing ashamed of the saying because – shocker – it’s not “inclusive.”

Campus newspaper The Mast reports that a tweet by the athletics program last month blurred out the acronym on a player’s shirt. The censorship immediately drew attention.

While the athletics department claims it has always cropped and edited out “EMAL” and “Lady Lutes” from photos of players in its marketing – so as not to dilute its official branding –  its leaders have bought into the idea that using “man” and “woman” is inherently offensive:

[Director of Athletic Communications Mark Albanese said:] “We just need to be very sensitive about the language we use, especially when trying to sell this as a great institution that is open and accepting to people.” …

“My philosophy is, if it’s good for you, then it needs to be good for [everyone],” [Director of Athletics and Recreation Laurie] Turner said. “We need to have policies and procedures in place that serve everyone.”

The football program had a turning point last year when a “female-identified” player joined the team, according to The Mast, and PLU’s religious identity is largely in name only, so perhaps it’s not a surprise that both faculty and administrators are hostile to the slogan:

Professor of Communication Peter Ehrenhaus explained that when a male term like man or guys is used simply as a general descriptor, it employs masculinity as universal and renders femininity invisible.

“One could argue that the logic doesn’t explicitly exclude ‘Every Woman’ and that we’re all Lutes,” Ehrenhaus said. “But if that’s the case, then why even verbally assert that ‘Every Man’ is a Lute?”

Amy Young, Chair of Communication and Theatre, defined EMAL as a “spotlight term” that “continues to naturalize a hierarchy in athletics and in gender.”

Young spoke on the inequality between EMAL and its female counterpart, Lady Lutes. Lady Lutes, Young says, isn’t parallel to EMAL in its use of the word lady.

“They get to be men, and [female athletes] have to be ladies,” Young said.

President Thomas Krise says the saying violates the university’s mission statement because it’s “not deliberately trying to include everybody”:

As a possible alternative, Krise proposed EPAL — Every Player A Lute. He said the gender exclusive language was “outdated.”

“If you have something that’s exclusively masculine, then it seems very obviously designed or has the effect of excluding people,” Krise said.  “We’re trying to figure out how to be an inclusive society, so language is a big part on how people feel included or not.”

Women’s basketball coach Jen Childress-White even suggests the saying does not treat women as human beings.

Read the story.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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