On side…Cristina Polania plays for club
Club player and treasurer Kristina Maddocks ignited the debate.
She said the term “ladies” made many members of the club feel uncomfortable and that the word “women” was far more empowering.
She said: “It’s not offensive to be referred to as a ladies club.”
But she added: “At the same time it almost is. It’s loaded, in the sense of you’re meant to be a lady and you’re meant to behave in a particular way and that’s not just in sport, that’s in life.
It was never Hackney ladies – that was one thing they were all sure of. It comes back to the notion of men and women not being equal, and I think that’s why we’ve always preferred being referred to as a women’s club because that’s what we are
“Being a man or woman or other doesn’t have the same connotation of being a ‘stay in your place, you should be in the kitchen’ term.”
The club in east London was founded in 1986 by a group of women who wanted to play football but who were all gay.
Now, around 95 per cent of members are lesbians.
Ms Maddocks said: “It was never Hackney ladies – that was one thing they were all sure of. It comes back to the notion of men and women not being equal, and I think that’s why we’ve always preferred being referred to as a women’s club because that’s what we are – women. ‘Women’ is more empowering. We are women.
“Some of the older members would be pretty peeved if we were to ever change the name to ladies.
“Even if you say ‘right, ladies’ they will pull you up and say ‘women’.”
During the 1980s, when homophobia was rife, the Hackney members faced a barrage of criticism and had to fight for the club’s very existence.
Today it is thriving with 45 members made up of all ages, the youngest 17 and the eldest 54.
It boasts a first eleven, a reserves team and a veterans’ side, all playing their home matches at Hackney Marshes.
Paul Mortimer, of the London FA, said: “Hackney Women’s Football Club – London’s first predominantly lesbian team – are a shining example that football is moving in the right direction to become an inclusive sport.
“It is essential that teams like Hackney Women’s FC continue to lead the way and break down the barriers that exist in our sport.”
Phil Smith, of Sport England, said: “Everyone should be able to take part in sport to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits it brings, regardless of their age, background, or sexuality.”
Is it disrespectful to call a woman a lady?
YES, says Frances Millar.
What’s in a name?
Well, quite a lot, as it goes.
A “ladies football team” just sounds so antiquated, like something straight out of an Enid Blyton book.
Words have power and meaning.
The type of femininity evoked by “lady” is dainty and genteel and, let’s face it, doesn’t have a place on the football field.
I’m certainly not suggesting there is anything wrong with being called a “lady”.
But for many women the term just does not feel right, as it does not describe their particular brand of femininity – myself included.
Besides, Hackney’s move is part of growing trend.
Earlier this week Liverpool Ladies officially became Liverpool FC Women, following Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham United in making the switch.
It’s time to embrace the modern, inclusive beautiful game.
NO, says Virginia Blackburn
SO let me get this right.
The latest word that those of us born with two X chromosomes are supposed to object to is “lady”.
Dear lord, has it come to this? There is nothing whatsoever condescending about the word “lady.”
The phrase “she’s a real lady” is a compliment.
It does not mean – as these footballing types seem to think – a woman who spends her time in the kitchen, but one who is particularly accomplished, decorous and feminine.
This is just another idiotic area of faux outrage by people who, frankly, have had pretty fortunate lives if that’s all they have to be upset about.
And its male counterpart is “gentleman,” not that anyone is objecting to being called that.
Personally, I’m proud to be a lady.
For goodness’ sake, calm down.