When I first caught Amal Alamuddin Clooney’s pearly whites smiling at me under the headline, The New Trophy Wife, I was elated. I love the positive message the international human rights lawyer’s image sets for women and girls, especially when it comes to demonstrating success in both your personal and professional lives.
But are we objectifying Amal Alamuddin Clooney by labeling her the new trophy wife? The short answer would have to be yes.
Pushing aside this woman’s professional accomplishments, even for a second, is not only dumb, but extremely sexist. Let us not fall into the trap of perpetuating the very stereotype that we are trying to break; one that advocates women as ornaments to be worn, prizes to be won.
In her recent post, Kristen Houghton writes that the term ‘trophy wife’ has taken on an upgraded definition and according to her, that is a positive development:
Men are finding the most attractive and sexually desirable women are not brainless beauties whose sole function is to look good and stay quiet, but women who are making good money and are in positions of power. The woman who got ahead on her looks by marrying a “sugar daddy” is now being replaced by the woman who is equal to her man in earning power and career position. That’s sexy.
Technically this is good news for women, and while Houghton’s intentions are clearly to celebrate, and in her own words ‘hooray equality,’ the article implies that women are still objects to be won and displayed.
Amal Clooney is a lawyer, activist, and author. She is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, specializing in international law, criminal law, human rights, and extradition. There is no doubt this woman definitely has won her share of trophies, but does marrying a Hollywood mega-star like George Clooney make her an award herself?
By throwing the term ‘trophy’ at Amal Clooney, however briefly or loosely, we are letting her marriage define her, despite her legion of accomplishments. Being married to George Clooney is not the most impressive thing about Amal; Her resumé is, her work is.
Now I applaud the emergence of high-powered couples, and George and Amal send a great message by being together. But how about we do all women a service, and not label them as any kind of accessory to men; no trophies to win or trinkets to collect. That is so passé.
Women have enough labels to deal with, and this idea that we are objects must stop being celebrated in any context.
Now that would truly be a cultural advancement to applaud.