“Men who hold high office in our society are never asked these questions by our journalists, regardless of the number of rumours that fly about on social media. That is because they are entitled to have their most private lives kept private, save and except where it seriously affects their job or their abilities.
“The President-elect is similarly entitled to keep her private life private…”
The following Letter to the Editor, raising questions about the Trinidad Guardian’s treatment of the country’s President-elect and her sexual orientation, was submitted to Wired868 by Ms Sanika Tyson:
“I was just fascinated as to why that was of interest. It didn’t offend me; you ask me a question and I would give you an answer. But I just couldn’t understand why, of all the things you would want to know about the person who is likely to be your next President, is that. I should think there are far more important things that you would need to know.” (Paula-Mae Weekes.)
It is noteworthy that this was one of the statements made by President-elect Paula-Mae Weekes in response to a question on her sexual orientation by a Trinidad Guardian journalist in an article that appeared on Tuesday 6 February, 2018.
The article suggested that, owing to questions being asked on social media, the journalist was somehow justified in asking this country’s first woman President-elect whether or not she was a lesbian, as if to suggest that there was a legitimate public interest in her bedroom activities.
A handful of wild individuals or fake profiles questioning the President-elect’s sexual orientation on social media is hardly a predictor of what falls into the category of the ‘public interest’ and it is disappointing that the Guardian descended into such a base arena.
The public interest, let us be clear, is about what matters to everyone in society. It is about the common good, the general welfare and the security and well-being of everyone in the community we serve. The public interest is not just what the readers or viewers want to consume or be entertained by.
I can only imagine the embarrassment the President-elect faced by being asked the question, far less seeing the response printed boldly as the headline of the Guardian newspaper. I cannot recall ever seeing a similar article or headline for any of our previous heads of state, all of them male.
An unmarried woman with no children is not an anomaly, in the same manner that an unmarried man with no children is not. Instead of serving the public interest, the article fell victim to archaic stereotypes about women and the way they choose to live their lives. Marriage and childbirth are choices; neither is the be-all and end-all of a woman’s existence. That this still needs to be stated in 2018 is disconcerting.
That there are some who still believe that not being married or having children is also deserving of an explanation is even more disconcerting. The article also dangerously promoted the notion that not being married and/or not having children can be used as a barometer to accurately guess someone’s sexual orientation.
Men who hold high office in our society are never asked these questions by our journalists, regardless of the number of rumours that fly about on social media. That is because they are entitled to have their most private lives kept private, save and except where it seriously affects their job or their abilities.
The President-elect is similarly entitled to keep her private life private as and until her private life begins to affect her job. There has been no suggestion to date that she will be unable to perform any of her presidential duties.
That, for no legitimate reason, the Guardian ran such a story before the President-elect even accedes to office is disappointing, disrespectful and unbecoming.