NYT Magazine Interviewer Asks Sexist Questions, Twitter Responds

by Erika W. Smith

Sick of people assuming that successful women must have slept their way to the top? You’re not alone.

Freelance writer Andrew Goldman, who writes the “Talk” Q&A column in The New York Times Magazine, recently asked The Birds star Tippi Hedren if she considered sleeping her way to the top. In any context, this is a pretty offensive question, but it may be especially so here. Goldman was interviewing Hedren about an upcoming biopic based on her relationship with Alfred Hitchcock, who sexually harassed her and ruined her career after she refused to sleep with him.

Tippi Hedren

Goldman has a record of asking successful women – everyone from Terry Gross to Whitney Cummings – about their sex lives, sometimes implying that they use sex to get ahead. Because that’s the only way a woman can be successful, right?

Jennifer Weiner – writer, defender of “chick lit,” and outspoken critic of sexism in the publishing industry and media — read the interview and tweeted:

Goldman responded:

Women journalist tweeters like New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum and Salon writer Mary Elizabeth Williams joined in, calling Goldman out on his sexist response to Weiner’s legitimate criticism.

Goldman called his critics “trolls” and compared them to Stalin, then later apologized to Weiner and deleted his Twitter. You can read the whole exchange on Storify here.

But the saga wasn’t over: the New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan wrote about the incident in the Times’ opinion pages, asking, “Can you believe we’re talking about this in 2012?”

Sullivan published her conversation with Hugo Lindgren, editor of the Times Magazine, in which they discussed Goldman’s questions and his future at the Times: Goldman will stay, but has been given a talking-to about his Twitter behavior.

“Given his misbehavior on Twitter and his status as a highly replaceable freelancer, I think his editors are extraordinarily generous to give it to him,” Sullivan writes.

For his own sake, Goldman needs to re-think the sort of questions he asks successful women – or he may find himself out of a job.


Images from twitter.com, storify.com, nytimes.com.

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