Every year, Barbara Walters hosts a highly anticipated special on ABC called the 10 Most Fascinating People. Last year Hillary Clinton took the top spot. This year, it’s Amal Clooney.
While that’s all well and good and she has a lot of qualities that are indeed fascinating (those eyebrows, for one), the reasons given for why she topped the list are deeply unsettling.
According to Walters it was not because she is an accomplished barrister who has fought for freedom of speech and women’s rights on a global scale. It was also not because she went to Oxford and received her law degree from NYU. And it wasn’t because she clerked for Sonia Sotomayer and advised a prime minister of Ukraine and the king of Bahrain — though to her credit, Walters did mention all of these accomplishments.
No, the reason was that the wedding of Amal Alamuddin to George Clooney was “one of the greatest achievements in human history.” Really? Getting George Clooney to settle down (which, let the record state, has been done before — it just didn’t last) is one of the greatest achievements in human history? Gosh, I really hope not.
Of course, Walters is (presumably) exaggerating for humorous effect. As women everywhere have been discussing for decades, Clooney is considered the catch of the century. He seems to grow sexier with age, he’s endlessly charming, he’s a humanitarian, and that house in Lake Como is the stuff of legends. But he was not to be had by us mere mortals, we thought.
After a brief marriage to Talia Balsam, Clooney famously swore off the institution for good in 1995, telling Walters he would never marry again because he “wasn’t very good at it.” Every time he dated another beautiful woman, the rise and fall of the relationship was picked apart in the tabloids. For 15+ years we’ve watched Clooney date cocktail waitresses, professional wrestlers, and TV personalities.
As Walters tells it, “a bevy of beautiful women threw themselves at the unattainable — and failed.” As though it can be assumed from a casual glance that each of these women was desperate to become Mrs. Clooney — their sole mission in dating him to catch the big fish that had eluded all women before them.
“What does it take to fascinate one of the most fascinating men in the world?” Walters poses this question to the audience. The conclusion we can draw from this is that Amal is fascinating to all of us because she is fascinating to one man. Forget that she had paved her own way in a man’s world and created a name for herself long before it ended in “Clooney” — she landed George! One would think that someone as accomplished as Barbara Walters would give a bit more credit to a fellow woman who has strived to make real change in the world. In fact, I can’t help but think that the reason why Amal chose not to sit down with Walters for the interview is that even she doesn’t believe she should be included on this list for the sole fact that she snagged a confirmed bachelor.
“Amazingly, Amal has been the subject of very little snark or envy, maybe because we, like George Clooney, find it impossible to resist perfection. Or maybe because it is heartening to think that no matter how long it may take, the perfect someone is out there for everyone.” With that closing statement by Walters, it’s obvious that Amal has come to symbolize the happily ever after we all hope to have. But to say she is fascinating because of her personal rather than professional accomplishments is to diminish her life’s work — and the work of all women.
Ladies, we women are not the men we marry. Our accomplishments should never be qualified by the accomplishments of the men on our arms. We do not make the man — and the man does not make us.
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