I remember people being “confused” about when a compliment was a compliment and when it was objectification. It got cleared up then, pretty handily.
I’m surprised that – again, decades later – we not only have a POTUS who hasn’t absorbed that training, but people my age and younger who can’t see the difference.
This recent example where Trump interrupted a phone call with Taoiseach (the head of the Irish government) to “compliment” a reporter.
Video of the bizarre moment when President @realDonaldTrump called me over during his call with Taoiseach @campaignforLeo Varadkar. @rtenews pic.twitter.com/TMl2SFQaji— Caitriona Perry (@CaitrionaPerry) June 27, 2017
TRUMP: We have a lot of your Irish press in the room… go ahead, go ahead, come here, come here. Where are you from? See, we have all of this beautiful Irish press.
PERRY: I’m from RTE News [crosstalk] Caitriona Perry.
TRUMP: Caitriona Perry. She has a nice smile on her face. So I bet she treats you well.
If you can watch the video, it’s worth it for the eyeroll as she walks away.
It is always useful in such situations to flip things. If he’d called over a male reporter and say “He has such a nice smile, I bet he treats you well,” would we think nothing of it?
No, of course not.
Originally, I thought this was just another example of listing a woman’s appearance as the primary factor about them instead of whatever achievements or other qualities they might have. I thought that partially because I misheard Trump’s last sentence.
What he actually said actually exposes a bias that’s even worse: That a woman’s qualities as a professional are based around their “niceness”.
That’s not just sexist. It’s an alarming bias toward groupthink.