This little news item (Peter Baker’s “The Caucus” blog over at The New York Times, Aug 6 2012) caught my attention because of the first quote below. During a fund raiser attended by Hollywood stars and including writer Aaron Sorkin, creator of our beloved the West Wing and (the jury is still out on this one) Newsroom, President Obama gave him an accurate shout out
Mr. Obama also mentioned Mr. Sorkin, ‘who writes the way every Democrat in Washington wished they spoke.’
That’s nice. I support this.
However, the following paragraph made me wince:
Mr. Obama made sure to single out Ms. Hathaway, who was wearing ‘a silver dress with puffed sleeves gathered from the elbow to the shoulder, and a tight bodice,’ according to a pool report by Dave Boyer of The Washington Times. ‘She’s spectacular,’ Mr. Obama said. ‘And I did get a chance to see Batman. And she was the best thing in it. That’s just my personal opinion.’
OUCH! The quote on its own may not be all that bad (“She’s the best THING in it?” Really, Mr. President? Not her acting?) but the way the paragraph opens with a description of her looks turns this into a homage to a body rather than a person. And yes, Anne Hathaway is gorgeous. But she’s also a person and a thinking, feeling individual. And no catsuits should negate that. But thank you for illustrating, journalist and leader of the free world alike, how to speak about women in a way that reduces them to objects.