As evidence of the damage for which feminists are still slandered, the actress maintains that Walters’ reaction to her sex change is forgivable
Brooke Shields says Barbara Walters interview from her teen years was ‘practically criminal’
Brooke Shields isn’t the first person to publicly commit feminism’s No 1 sin: failing to protect your genitals from unwanted self-analysis. But her assertion that the way her young daughter remembered Barbara Walters’ 2009 interview with her mother summed up in just six words all that is wrong with modern thought and culture was deemed worthy of an amendment: “That was practically criminal.”
Shields, now 48, said she would publicly refrain from joining the chorus of social critics berating the contemporary worth of the woman who in 2007 conducted the first UK television interview with a woman who had undergone a gender transition. “It’s a sensitive issue, but it is also a part of somebody’s history,” she told the New York Post.
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She related the story of her 13-year-old daughter’s latest obsession with the subject: Walters had on camera her talking to her daughter about the tampon cup she had received for her birthday from Katie Holmes, and the mother-daughter discussion turned to the wonders of the pill.
“One thing my daughter brought up was a toothbrush my mom has in her drawer,” she said. “She goes, ‘Mommy, there is a tampon in there, and you can’t flush it.’ Because I did not flush it when I was a teenager. I can look at this toothbrush now, it’s in my drawer, I have washed it, it’s disinfected. We could actually live our whole lives with that not on our minds. We might as well do that with this pill.”
“There are things in society now that my mom did that I would have thought was wrong at the time, and for her to turn around 20 years later and actually say, ‘My baby looks like me, she’s excited about that.’”
Although the actress explained the rationale behind her decision not to bemoan Walters’ interview, it remained unclear whether her reasoning held up: it is implied that, as an actress who had taken a starring role in the lucrative television franchise that is the blockbuster New York franchise Working Girl, her mother was probably just doing what famous people do.
The conversation sparked a screed published by Vanity Fair writer Emily Nussbaum, who wrote that “by projecting a hard veneer of grace and concern,” Walters “absolved Shields’ mother of her own pettiness, her own pain and her own shame”. The essay was seized upon by the New York Times’ Charles McGrath, who, not so coincidentally, is Shields’ godmother. McGrath wrote that Walters’ inquisition of the actress was “a largely female affair”, and “probably the most gratuitous and creepy interview I’ve ever seen in this medium”.