Modern journalism is a challenging field. As we become increasingly glued to our iPhones consuming content at an impatient rate, even major publications have to churn out fluffy pieces and eye-catching headlines to stay ahead. Or at least that’s what I like to tell myself when idiotic trend pieces like Merle Ginsberg’s article, “Hollywood Moguls’ Arm Candy Du Jour: Goodbye Asians, Hello Yoga Instructors,” make it to print.
Published in the June 19th edition of The Hollywood Reporter, the article, as the title suggests, revolves around Ginsberg’s own observation that more and more “major industry players” are dating yoga instructors. Clearly, this needs some investigating, and Ginsberg does so, beginning with a brief history lesson about the dating predilections of powerful men past. Yoga teachers have not always been all the rage, according to Ginsberg — before that, it was Asian women (1990s), high-end retail workers or “Shop Girls” (1980s) and before that, white non-Jews or “shiksas” (1950s).
The move to yoga instructors is explained by Ginsberg’s handy “relationship experts,” Dr. Jeremy Nicholson and Dr. Pat Allen, who explain that both Asian women and yoga instructors have the qualities men desire most in women: “attractive, pleasant, feminine.” Allen takes it a step further, noting that important men don’t just desire these traits in women — they need them. “[Men] build, they create. Women receive. …Alpha men do better with beta women: sensitive, empathetic and kind. Who epitomizes beta better than a yoga teacher?”
It’s hard to know where to begin in highlighting the offensive material in Ginsberg’s piece. You could point to the vocabulary she relies on: how men are referred to as “the Hollywood business elite,” “alpha” and “powerful,” whereas the women they date are referred to as “arm candy,” “bimbo[s]” and “desirable mogul mates.” There’s no nod to powerful women’s desire for an attractive mate, and it goes without saying that there is no mention of same sex relationships.
Or you could point to the racism. When Ginsberg lists examples of Asian women who married powerful men — Wendi Deng, Julie Chen, Jennifer Chun, Chau-Giang Thi Nguyen, a businesswoman, news anchor/producer, violinist and pianist, respectively — she implies they were desirable and attractive not because of their career success, but simply because of their ethnicity, as if Asian women were a new type of cigar on the market for which powerful men have a craving.
For those of you not familiar with The Hollywood Reporter, it is a major publication to which most people working in the entertainment industry have subscriptions. The magazine features everything from weekly roundups of box office grosses to interviews with executives and filmmakers. Just last month, the magazine featured a roundtable discussion of female comedians and actors where the likes of Amy Schumer, Ellie Kemper and Tracee Ellis Ross talked about, in THR’s own words, “sexism, sex scenes… and why women need to stop apologizing.” That’s more like it.
The Hollywood Reporter is reputable, and it is read. I consume it to remain informed in the hopes of furthering my career, so not only do I not want to see sexist trend pieces when I open its pages, I don’t want the entire industry seeing them, either. As overtly ridiculous as this article is, words have power. Publishing such a piece — regardless of “clicks” — implicitly validates the sexism it propounds.
Modern journalism is a challenging field, yes. But it is the responsibility of journalists and editors at publications like The Hollywood Reporter to flag sexist, dated material like this and put it where it deserves to be: the trash.