The Associated Press is held up as an esteemed institution for many in media and elsewhere, and their stylebook serves as a formal guide for presenting the truth for publication in a dignified manner.
But when the AP Stylebook suggested scrapping the term "mistress," social media users pushed back—accusing the group of going too far in an effort to be politically correct, and providing an array of suggestions for alternative monikers.
What are the details?
The Associated Press Stylebook sends out regular updates for journalists, providing suggestions and changes to the rules.
On Friday, the organization tweeted, "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 preference. Provide details later."
We now say not to use the archaic and sexist term "mistress" for a woman in a long-term sexual relationship with, a… https://t.co/3fm4BrVT6B— APStylebook (@APStylebook)1588948803.0
The suggestion was overwhelmingly rejected, with one editor flatly replying, "Nope. Plain words that accurately describe meaning are best," and another follower arguing, "Mistress is used quite properly. It's intended to be tied to gender. That's the whole point of the word, it describes something in detail, so it can be differentiated from other phenomena. This is the foundation of words and language."
A columnist pointed out to the AP that "a one-night stand might be a lover, but not a mistress. A companion could be just any friend. You haven't solved anything here, @apstylebook, you've only opened yourself to ridicule."
Several followers—including journalists—were happy offer substitutions for the word mistress, suggesting: homewrecker, ho, hoochie mama, slutty trollop, skanky whore, and side piece, of those we are able to print. A number of names were also mentioned.
Others threw the AP a legitimate option, with one writer pointing out, "'Paramour' is probably dated, but it more generally refers to an illicit/secret lover of a married person. Plus, it is gender-neutral."