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NYTimes hits new low: uses “Trophy Wife” as factual descriptor of presidential candidate’s spouse

ksavoies Icon Posted by Keely Savoie

July 8th, 2007

Would that there were words to describe the depth of my disgust. New York Times writer Susan Saulny has written an entire article under the headline Will Her Face Determine His Fortune? positing the question (in all seriousness): “Is America ready for a president with a trophy wife?”

Saulny is quick to dismiss your understandable, but totally wrong-headed response. “The question may seem sexist, even crass,” she says. “but serious people — as well as Mr. Thompson’s supporters — have been wrestling with the public reaction to Jeri Kehn Thompson, whose youthfulness, permanent tan and bleached blond hair present a contrast to the 64-year-old man who hopes to win the hearts of the conservative core of the Republican party.” (emphasis mine)

Serious people
. Meaning people with intellectual heft, power, perhaps even gravitas. Which also means: You can still be a sexist a**hole and be “serious”, too.

So, apparently, the fact that Jeri Kehn Thompson is younger, pretty, and tan is reason enough to stereotype her as a gold-digging bimbo…

But wait! Saulny understands you might think the term “trophy wife” is sexist. But it’s not really:

The term “trophy wife” was coined by Fortune magazine in 1989 and immediately entered the language. Although it often has a pejorative spin, the term originally meant the second (or third) wife of a corporate titan, who was younger, beautiful and — equally important — accomplished in her own right, which describes Mrs. Thompson.

Gosh, well, I totally see now why being referred to as a…

1. A prize or memento, such as a cup or plaque, received as a symbol of victory, especially in sports.
2. A specimen or part, such as a lion’s head, preserved as a token of a successful hunt.
3. A memento, as of one’s personal achievements.
4. The spoils of war, dedicated in classical antiquity with an inscription to a deity and set up as a temporary monument on or near a battlefield, placed in an existing temple, or housed in a permanent, new structure.

…is not at all sexist or demeaning. Thanks for the clarification. Mind if I call you Suze?

Seriously– this is the level of accepted discourse, this is the jouranlistic standard set by the NYTimes? As long as reporters anticipate and preemptively dismiss any issues of sexism within their writing, they can go ahead an characterize not only a marriage, but an entire woman, as a mere trinket, based on nothing but her age and her looks?


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