Oh Obama. You will be sorely missed.
On Friday (19th December 2014), it was Obama's annual end-of-the-year press conference. Instead of taking questions from the crowd (Journalists, News Reporters... Men), Obama took questions from eight women and no men - a move that did not go unnoticed. It was said by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest that they wanted "other reporters not regularly called on to get to question the [President]". In other words: those from a minority group.
Now yes you may be thinking woah what? At first I was. I was thinking FINALLY! But after looking at some of the responses of his actions I'm now sat rather uncomfortably on the wooden fence when coming up with my own view on this situation... or revelation.
I'm vaguely amused that the Fox correspondent complained that the women's questions weren't "hard hitting enough" while two men called out questions at the end asking what Obama's New Years Resolutions would be and if he was going to smoke a cigar... The eight female journalist asked about Sony's decision to pull The Interview following threats by North Korea, and asked about diplomatic relations with Cuba (which incoming majority leader Mitch McConnell said will be the first matter up for a vote). Yeah... really not "hard hitting enough".
So my first response: YOU GO OBAMA! Finally, a man in power has acknowledged women as part of a minority in politics and has gone about a way to change that. And clearly it has turned a few heads. It's interesting how when Obama was advised to answer the people who were usually ignored, it turned out they were all women. It's like an accidental revelation. Now here's a man in charge who is comfortable with, and recognises and acknowledges, strong women. So GREAT news... right?
My second interpretation of this: No no no no no.
You know you live in a patriarchy when this is news. Has there ever been a headline about only male journalists being called on? I mean of course I'm so glad Obama did it! I'm just sad about the fact that giving women a chance to speak is seen as revolutionary in 2014. It should be the norm! But sadly, we're still not there yet.
Another frightening factor about this is that on Fox News, White House correspondent Ed Henry joked that he was "outraged for men everywhere" but then admitted seriously that he wasn't happy about the questions that were asked by the eight women. He said (quote) "Frankly some of the questions just didn't press him". "There's so much going on right now and the questions were trailing off. The president was almost like, let me remember what you asked because it was so unmemorable". Okay sure! Yeah maybe their questions weren't ON POINT, (my opinion differs), but you know what's pretty frightening? the fact that all of the major networks only had male reporters present. They had no females representing any major networks at the press conference.
But finally my third interpretation of this, and the opinion I most strongly stand by, is that in reality no progress has been made. Why does it have to be at opposite ends of the scale to make a difference? ALL Men! ALL Women! Surely we should put men and women in the same playing field rather than completely dividing them like you do in a zoo to keep two different species from ripping each other apart? Equality is calling on an equal number of the two sexes. OR how about just not caring at all? Does it matter if a woman, man, black, white, elder or youngster asked the question? Do those titles really matter? They are all people doing the same job. We will NEVER make progress anywhere unless we move past the kind of thinking where it's revolutionary that a BLACK prime minister answered only FEMALE reporter's questions. There shouldn't be a MINORITY or a MAJORITY. It's that black and white (excuse the pun).
So Obama thank you for putting it out there. Let's hope that you've pushed the first domino that will spur on other events that will change the way we all perceive minorities so that they aren't even minorities any more. Let's hope in the near future we're just people again.