Enough Already With "Love Child," "Illegitimate," and "Out-of-Wedlock"

05/20/2011 03:23 pm ET | Updated Jul 19, 2011
  • Katherine Franke Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor, Director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, Columbia Law School

Alright -- it's time for an "offensive nomenclature call-out" moment. Someone has to declare these terms no longer usable by the media, by pundits, or really, by anyone, so here's the list:

Love Child -- used by the NY Daily News, the Huffington Post, and the Washington Post, among many others to describe the child of which Arnold Schwarzenegger recently acknowledged paternity. There's so much to say about how offensive this term is -- let's start with pointing out that love doesn't produce a child, sex does (Or can). What it is meant to communicate is the notion that the child was the product of an extra -- or non-marital reproductive sex act -- a moment of passion, rather than, well what? Loveless sex that one has with the person to whom you are married? Come on.

Illegitimate -- Gail Collins should know better than to have used the term in her column today in the NY Times. And twice in one paragraph!

Out-of-Wedlock -- MSNBC, Forbes and the LA Times love this term. And just as with Gail Collins' use of "illegitimacy," I expected more of the left-ish media, but lo and behold San Francisco Public Radio and Judy Woodruff of PBS' The Newshour couldn't resist invoking this Victorian term in recent days to describe the sinful condition in which Schwarzenegger's newly acknowledged child was conceived.

I realize that the Schwarzenegger and DSK (as we're now calling Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in keeping with the trend set with KSM and OBL) scandals are irresistible, but let's resist perpetuating offensive, outdated, stigmatizing notions of propriety, respectability and shame in covering the story.

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