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All the singled-out ‘ladies’: the curious sting of a salutation

Vito Perrone, the top candidate for superintendent of the Easthampton Public Schools, said his job offer was abruptly rescinded after he wrote an e-mail to the School Committee chairwoman and another female colleague, addressing them as “ladies.”Emily Thurlow/Daily Hampshire Gazette

She’s watchful not to offend, but she doesn’t appreciate language despots

Re “Superintendent finalist’s job offer revoked: Easthampton hopeful says officials didn’t like use of ‘ladies’ in e-mail” (Metro, April 5): I read the story about Vito Perrone with dismay.

I’m a liberal-minded person, and words have been my stock in trade for the past 35 years (I am an editorial freelancer). I am ever watchful of trying not to offend people. But I can’t see the sense of being cowed by or kowtowing to the despots who are attempting to control people by seeking to control language.

There must be more compassionate ways to promote tolerance and respect.

Helen Maggie Carr


Glencliff, N.H.

There has to be room to mess up and make amends

Joan Vennochi’s column nailed it (”Hey, you guys, don’t call us ‘ladies,’ ” Opinion, April 6). Any half-aware adult in 2023 needs to know how to read the room and recognize what will fly and what won’t. Unfortunately, we all miss the mark sometimes. However, this expectation that we should all know exactly the right words all the time is unrealistic. It’s just not how life works. There has to be room for people to trip over their tongues, because we do, and we will. There has to be room and opportunity for a person to make amends without first being publicly flogged. And as we all know, proper words can too easily camouflage the animus in a person’s heart.

There seems to be a burgeoning pushback from boomers (of which I’m one) to the language police, and I find that refreshing. But there also seems to be this need to almost apologize for our years on earth when we make our case. Heaven forbid one looks like an “old fart.” Maybe we so-called dinosaurs have earned a smidge of wisdom. Just maybe, we can help balance out the policing of language and cancel culture with something a bit more nuanced.


As good and decent people argue over the latest offense, insult, or incorrect terminology, Rome is burning. Are these the fights we need to be having at every turn?

Ellen DeGenova


Everyone could have learned something here

I totally agree with Joan Vennochi’s column on the use of “guys” and “ladies.” The prospect of Vito Perrone losing the chance to become superintendent of a school system that he loved and had been connected to is very sad.

I’ve had more than 40 years of teaching experience. In my view, the Easthampton School Committee rushed to judgment here. Whatever happened to the teachable moment — especially when one is applying for a position in education? Both kids and adults make silly mistakes, especially under pressure. This would have been the perfect chance for Perrone to apologize and for everyone to learn.

Ann McGreevy


The writer has a doctoral degree in education from the University of Connecticut and worked for years in both secondary and higher education in New England.

Uh-oh, here come the ‘diversity experts’

Two things strike me in the comments of the so-called DEI experts in the April 7 Metro article “Is ‘ladies’ a microaggression? Diversity experts explain.”

First, we have it way too easy in this country. How else could we have gotten to the point where it has become a profession to analyze every word or statement as to how it could potentially offend someone (anyone?) based on historical usages or meanings that much of the population isn’t even aware of, and making a federal case of it?


Second, if these people ever fully take control of the country, all of us — he, she, we, and they alike — are doomed.

Art Cabral

West Bridgewater

How Gramma parsed the language

The year was 1958, and my mother had just had her fifth child. My mother was a community activist but a terrible housekeeper. So her mother-in-law decided to hire a cleaning lady to help my mother after the birth of my youngest brother. (I did not realize that my grandmother arranged the service.)

“Gramma,” I exclaimed, “did you know we are having a cleaning lady come to our house to help mom clean?” My grandmother looked down at me and replied, “Cleaning woman, dear, cleaning woman. You can’t be sure she is a lady.”

My grandmother may have approved of the term “ladies” as a sign of respect.

Beth Scanlan



As a longtime Globe subscriber, I was nonplussed to read Friday’s Metro section. On Page B1, the paper explains how calling Easthampton School Committee chair Cynthia Kwiecinski and the committee’s executive assistant, Suzanne Colby, “ladies” could be considered a microaggression. On Page B2, the paper identifies eight Massachusetts women as “fellows” in its story about the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation announcement.

Am I the only one to see the irony here?

Ned Daly