NORMAN — How about we rename “The Today Show” the “Yesterday Show” since host Matt Lauer asks questions from 1953?
Isn’t what Lauer asked GM CEO Mary Barra about whether she’ll do “well” at being simultaneously an executive and a mom about, oh, 30 years past its sell-by date?
Today, haven’t we’ve stopped asking whether Hillary can be a good Nana as well as lead the free world? Today, haven’t we stopped filling the teleprompter with queries regarding whether Elizabeth Warren makes her own pie crusts from scratch or is reduced, out of desperation, to using pre-made? Today, haven’t we decided that girls can be firefighters, astronauts and soldiers without asking what happens if they get their periods — or if they don’t?
Asking the head of General Motors whether she can be a good mommy and do her job effectively (not to mention asking her whether she got the position because she’s a woman and could bring a “softer face” to the company’s image) is like asking a girl whether she can be both smart and pretty. It’s a false dichotomy — a trick and a con.
These are not questions we ask in 2014 without expecting the audience to gasp, laugh and treat the interviewer with contempt. The fact that days later, Lauer’s female producer comes out and giggles, “Oopsy, it was us silly girls who forced poor Matt to ask that question” makes it even more ridiculous.
In no way does it mitigate Lauer’s exchange with Barra; instead it exacerbates our irritation while undermining Lauer’s credibility.
Look, women have been working double shifts for lousy wages, cleaning airport toilets, stocking shelves in dirty warehouses, serving bad coffee at fast-food restaurants and cleaning up the mess of the world in hotel rooms, bars and office buildings without being asked if they can do their jobs effectively and be good mothers. It’s assumed that a woman in such a position will simply be the best mother she can.