Vanessa Bryant to get millions in divorce -- but is it a 'windfall'?
Lakers star Kobe Bryant's divorce has been big news in Los Angeles. After the initial article in Saturday's LATExtra section that reported Vanessa Bryant's court filing, an article Tuesday looked into details of a possible settlement. The couple reportedly had no prenuptial agreement, so, the article said, Vanessa Bryant is probably entitled to at least $75 million, half of her husband’s net worth.
The article characterized this as a "windfall" for Vanessa Bryant.
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."
The Times' dictionary of record, Webster's New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition, defines a windfall as "any unexpected acquisition, gain, or stroke of good luck." It doesn’t suggest that a windfall is something undeserved. However, the definition of surprise or luck doesn't square with the usage in the article. A community-property settlement isn't lucky -- it's the law.
Wilson also questioned where the term came from. The second paragraph of the article reads: "But legal experts said it's clear Bryant's wife will leave the marriage with a windfall."
"Which legal expert said that?" Wilson asked. "Not one is quoted in the story as the source for that sexist characterization."
In the article, attorney Dmitry Gorin says that Vanessa Bryant will probably get "more than enough for many lifetimes." But Wilson is right, no one is quoted as using the word "windfall," which makes it appear to be The Times' description.
Though many of us would consider $75 million to be a windfall, in the context of a settlement under the state’s community-property law, "windfall" wasn't the right word.
Photo: Kobe and Vanessa Bryant at a benefit in 2005. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times