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Career-minded women not totally human, sez Today

azeislers Icon Posted by Andi Zeisler

October 5th, 2007

It’s been a while since I started my morning by screaming at my television, but a segment on today’s Today sent me into full-fledged flailing, eye-rolling, cursing spasms. Seriously, I think I scared my dog. The reason? Today’s report on “the rise of the fembot.”

The segment started with a clip of Grey’s Anatomy’s Christina Yang to illustrate the phenomenon of a woman who is so into her career and her independence that she’s a threat to the natural order of things — and by natural order of things, of course, we’re talking men and babies. According to Marie Claire editor Joanna Coles, one of the two experts brought on the show to discuss this terrifying phenomenon, the fembot is a woman who ” doesn’t crowd around when a coworker brings her baby into the office, doesn’t share cupcakes with her friends on her birthday,” because she just wants to get back to work. Then the interviewer—not Ann, not Matt, not Meredith, and not Al, so I don’t know who the hell she was—offered that, gee, this all seems really sad, these women with their husband-les, baby-less lives of cupcake-shunning. She turned to the show’s other designated expert, a psychologist who at least managed to make the point that being independent and focused on your career is “wonderful,” and should be differentiated from being “emotionally unavailable,” but agreed that being emotionally unavailable is a problem. And then she went on for a while about women being hard-wired to nurture, and thus not wanting to nurture is crazy abnormal. And then, I’m not joking, the interviewer said “Here’s what to look out for!” and we got a little infographic with the signs that you might be emotionally unavailable, aka a fembot, aka totally not human.

I clearly need to dredge up the video clip, or else I may believe that I hallucinated the whole thing. Did Today just try to convince us—incoherently, but still—that being absorbed in one’s career, not caring about other people’s babies, and not wanting to get all emotionally strung out in relationships makes a woman inhuman? Did anyone else see this? Anyone?

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