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LA Times Polices Itself Over Accusations of Sexist Writing

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After announcing that Vanessa and Kobe Bryant had filed for divorce, the LA Times reported that the Lakers star's soon-to-be ex-wife stands to collect a "windfall" during their settlement.

Vanessa could indeed be awarded up to $75 million, but according to a blog post at the Times today, a reader pointed out -- and rightly so -- that the use of the word "windfall" smacked not just a little bit of sexism:

Reader Pam Wilson of San Diego said she found this description "blatantly sexist." "The premise is that Bryant's wife, Vanessa, does not deserve half of the couple's community property," Wilson emailed. "She is getting a 'windfall,' i.e. something she does not deserve, because obviously, Kobe was the one earning the money."

In response, the Times decided to self-police (not a bad idea, lest the subjects of this story be reduced to stereotypes). Staff writer Deirdre Edgar turned to the Webster's New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition, to find out how the word in question is actually defined, and turned up the following description: "any unexpected acquisition, gain, or stroke of good luck."
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So Wilson's interpretation of "windfall" wasn't exactly right, but then again, neither was the Times'. Edgar makes the point that the settlement won't have anything to do with luck, but rather, will be in accordance with the law: since the Bryants didn't have a prenup, Vanessa is entitled to half of their community property. All that said, Edgar concludes that "'windfall' wasn't the right word."