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Sexism and the Press

August 30, 1992

I am writing in response to the (Aug. 16) Commentary, "An All-Star Dream Turns to Nightmare," written by Jeanne Phillips. While I sympathize with Stacey Nogy, who was certainly the victim of unwarranted and unprovoked verbal harassment and poor treatment by stadium security personnel in response to her complaint, I would like to correct a blatant example of sexist writing by Phillips.

I am referring to Phillips' description of the ill-mannered man who she says harassed her friend. "The moment was interrupted by a beer-gutted man in his 30s," Phillips wrote. I can find no compelling reason for describing this man's physical appearance; certainly his boorish behavior speaks for itself. Is the reader to infer a link between beer guts and abusive behavior? Besides risking incurring the wrath of well-mannered beer-gutted men everywhere, Phillips does harm to the rights of women, as she perpetuates the myth that attractive, flat-bellied, "decent"-looking men cannot be harassers.

As a journalism student at San Diego State University, I am pleased to say I have been instructed to leave all references to personal appearance out of my writing unless pertinent to the story. Men and women are to be treated equally in this regard, according to the Associated Press Stylebook.

In my writing, I would not consider describing a man as "beer-gutted" any more than I would refer to a woman as "homely" or "flat-chested." I ask only that Phillips, and the Los Angeles Times, adhere to a similar standard of decency and respect. Thank you.

PAUL YBARRONDO, Santee

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