The Associated Press announced last week that it would ditch the term “mistress” from its vocabulary, noting the word is “archaic and sexist term,” and critics of the decision haven't held back from mocking it.
“We now say not to use the archaic and sexist term 'mistress' for a woman in a long-term sexual relationship with, and financially supported by, a man who is married to someone else. Instead, use an alternative like companion or lover on first reference,” the AP Stylebook tweeted.
Politico columnist Jack Shafer told the AP to “go soak your head,” while sports radio veteran Tony Bruno responded, “How about side piece, kept woman, concubine, shack job, goomah, homewrecker or Lisa Page for short?”
“A one-night stand might be a lover, but not a mistress. A companion could be just any friend. You haven't solved anything thing here, @apstylebook, you've only opened yourself to ridicule,” Shafer added.
The Associated Press has historically dictated the style used by the majority of news organizations, but Media Research Center director of media analysis Tim Graham wrote that it recently began “foregoing clarity for politically correct muddiness.”
“Notice the AP’s linguistic leap to banish any troublesome moral aspersions on a woman for cheating with a married man. It’s ‘archaic’ to lament breaking God’s commandments, but then, AP would probably scold you for using your archaic Bible to describe God as a ‘He,’” Graham wrote.
“Their assumption about sexism is that the cheating husband doesn’t get such a discouraging term. They forget terms like ‘womanizer,’ or in the case of financial support, a ‘kept man.’ But there are plenty of descriptors without gender – paramour, philanderer, cheater, or just sinner,” Graham added. “In the real world, much more callous or loaded words are used, from ‘trollop’ to ‘side piece.’”
He compared the AP’s decision to someone referring to a smoker as a “cigarette enthusiast.”
Others responded to the AP's tweet with thoughts on the decision: