Frankly, we're surprised Reese Witherspoon went there at all. If you haven't heard, the actress, entrepreneur, and general all-American sweetheart has kicked off a bit of an internet firestorm after she made an offhand, hurtful comment during an otherwise poignant and powerful speech about opportunities for women in film.
The unwitting target of her strange remark? Mommy bloggers — and yes, we were as confused as you probably are right now.
At WSJ Magazine’s 2017 Innovator Awards last week, Witherspoon — who was there to receive the Entertainment Innovator of the Year Award — gave an acceptance speech that rightly called upon Hollywood to examine its treatment of women. After calling out sexism in the film industry and discussing the importance of empowering females, Witherspoon espoused the need for more opportunities for women in leadership roles.
"I don’t really believe that we’ve been seeing the full spectrum of the female experience, and that is simply because women’s stories are not prioritized,” she said, before adding that today's women want real "substance" as well as "thought-provoking" entertainment across all platforms. And that's when she added the zinger that surprised a lot of her fans: “And I’m not talking about mommy blogs and 14 ways to cook a turkey.”
Yikes! Plenty of women were offended — and they weren't shy about expressing their disdain at the remark on (where else?) Twitter. One asked a pointed question:
...while others merely pointed out the inconsistency of a snide attack on a particular group of women during a speech meant to bolster all women.
The backlash didn't end there; one self-proclaimed mommy blogger wrote an open letter saying Witherspoon showed "a tremendous lack of respect for a group of women who have found a way to be both mothers and writers." Another writer, Jill Robbins, scolded the Oscar-winning actress on her own blog, writing, "You’re taking down a segment of the population in order to uplift another. I’m not sure that’s 'Innovator of the Year' behavior. Just my thoughts as a 'mommy blogger.'"
Where Witherspoon Went Wrong
These women nailed it. Did Reese — and her speech writers, if she had any — not see the irony in passively bashing a certain segment of women during a speech about giving more voices to all types of women? Now is the time, she seemed to say, for women to tell their own stories — and that's exactly what mommy bloggers do, in addition to giving much-needed support for women in a very trying phase of life. Reese, being a mom herself, ought to know that sources of support for moms — including yes, mommy bloggers — should not be dismissed or demeaned as the butt of an ill-timed joke.
And for that matter, what's up with her knocking articles on how to cook the perfect turkey dinner?! Sure, women need deeper, more thought-provoking articles and shows — but they also need quick cooking tips before they host a meal for their loved ones. Being a modern woman is about making time for the little things, the big things, and every issue in between; it's about being complex. You can watch a film that elevates your mind; you can grab a few quick tips online from a woman who's been there herself.
Women can, and should — and do, every day — do it all. We ought to expect one of our most powerful leading ladies to not only understand that, but to celebrate it.