I’m not often a fan of the “if this had been a woman….” line of argument because it’s nearly impossible to prove, but: If this article about Benjamin Millepied being made the new director of dance at the Paris Opera Ballet had been about a female choreographer landing such a role, and that female choreographer was married to an Oscar-winning Hollywood star that she met while choreographing one of his movies, that would have been mentioned in the first two paragraphs. And the fact that they have a kid together would have been mentioned as more than an aside.
None of these are perfect comparisons, but from today’s Style section alone: Rita Ora is, in the first paragraph, “the prized protégé of Jay-Z.” Slightly lower down in the Jenna Lyons story is her partner, Courtney Crangi, “the sister and business partner of the jeweler Philip Crangi, and the woman whom she starting dating after separating from her husband of nine years, the artist Vincent Mazeau.” There are further details of Lyons and Mazeau selling their lovely Park Slope townhouse, and anecdotes about the kid, of course.
It’s not that one’s personal life shouldn’t be mentioned if it’s relevant. But it always seems to be more “relevant” with women than men. Millepied is a very important figure, but in the U.S., Natalie Portman is much more famous (and arguably more interesting to U.S. readers). I think the Times was right to mention her without going into unnecessary details — the article, after all, was about Millepied. I just wish they’d give female subjects the same treatment.
- In Which He, Fatefully, Returns to Gender. by Mikey June 9, 2007
- How to write about lady-scientists (e.g., stuff they cook that ISN’T dinner) by Caperton April 2, 2013
- Wiki Women by Jill January 12, 2006
- Responding to Raising Children in Our Way-Past-Gender Society. by Mikey June 4, 2007
- Purity or Integrity? by Jill January 18, 2007