Goofus and Gallant

Elle's Women in Hollywood event pays tribute to successful businesswomen -- and baby-addled new mommies!

Published October 9, 2008 1:15PM (EDT)

Remember the old Goofus and Gallant cartoons from Highlights magazine? I couldn't help thinking of those when I read two different articles on Elle's Women in Hollywood tribute earlier this week. Goofus (USA Today) writes about an event honoring women in the entertainment industry and titles it "Women in Hollywood Embrace Their New Role: Mom." Gallant (the Associated Press) goes instead with the headline "A-List Women Celebrate Their Own in Hollywood." And it pretty much continues like that.

Gallant correctly identifies the purpose of the evening -- paying tribute to women's achievements in the entertainment business -- and includes quotes about just that from honorees Anne Hathaway (whom I adore unreasonably, and who kicked so much ass on "Saturday Night Live" last week that my boyfriend turned to me midway through and went, "Wait, you weren't kidding when you said she was actually smart and funny"), Isla Fisher and Sigourney Weaver. Better still, here's Weaver's quote: "Someday hopefully it won't be necessary to allocate a special evening to celebrate where we are and how far we've come. Someday women writers, producers and crew members will be so commonplace, and roles and salaries for actresses will outstrip those for men, and pigs will fly." Heh.

Meanwhile, Goofus talks to Nicole Kidman (another honoree) only about her freakin' new baby; discusses what Halle Berry, Kate Beckinsale, Jennifer Lopez and Leah Remini (all nonhonorees) think about motherhood; and then gets around to talking about the actual point of the evening, which was, you know, women's careers outside the home. My favorite quote from Kidman: "So many women … have their toe at least in the workforce and they still want to have families. That's me too." Yes indeed, folks, the woman who two years ago was the highest-paid actress in Hollywood has a toe in the workforce but struggles to balance that with child rearing. Stars! They're just like us!

Let the record show that I have absolutely nothing against motherhood, mothers, children, Nicole Kidman or people who prioritize family above their careers. But come on. It's an event to celebrate women's success in business, and a major newspaper covers it as if it's a friggin' star-studded Mommy and Me yoga class? If that's still acceptable in 2008, then Weaver's probably right about the whole pigs flying thing. Sob.


By Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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