Thursday, March 5, 2009

Paging the 1950s: ACS Awards Ann Curry "Mother of the Year" Award

Ann Curry is one of the most accomplished television news journalists of her generation, with three Emmy awards, a Gracie and an NAACP Excellence in Reporting award sharing space on her mantle. She's reported from some of the world's most dangerous places, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sudan and Afghanistan. She's the host of "Dateline NBC" and also anchors the "Today" show.

One smart cookie no doubt, and very devoted to her career. But at the end of day, you know what she is? A mom. And not just any Mom. She's the Mother of the Year, according to the American Cancer Society. The organization recently feted her at its 2009 Mother of the Year luncheon at The Plaza hotel in Manhattan. Sharing the honor with Curry this year was Dr. Alexandra Heerdt, a woman who fills in the cracks of her days not devoted to momming it up by serving as one of the country's top breast cancer surgeons at Memorial-Sloan Kettering.

“...there are no two women more deserving of this honor this year than Ann Currt [sic] and Dr. Heerdt. Not only are they both dedicated, loving mothers, but they are devoting [sic!] to saving and changing the lives of others through various humanitarian efforts," gushes Maureen Fitzgerald, Regional Vice President, Manhattan, American Cancer Society, in a press statement.

The clause order in the second sentence of the quote: Is that deliberate? What would happen if the publicist who crafted Ms. Fitzergerald's quote switched the order to come up with something like this:

"Not only are they both devoted to saving and changing the lives of others through various humintarian efforts, but they are also dedicated mothers."

Nah, that doesn't work. It puts "others" ahead of the children of Curry and Heerdt. "Others" who represent an entire constellation of needy children and adults that these women have no doubt helped in the course of their careers, whether it be through breaking news on the state of children orphaned by genocide in war zones or removing a tumor from someone's belly.

Yes, putting these "others" ahead would be downright selfish, and being a mom is all about being selfless, right? In the universe of the American Cancer Society, apparently, it is. There doesn't seem to be room for anything less than black-and-white thinking.

So, the year is 2009, we're more than 30 years beyond women's liberation, and yet there are still outfits -- and apparently outfits as prestigious as the American Cancer Society no less -- handing out these kinds of awards? Speaking of non-equivocation, isn't it supposed to be an open-and-shut case these days that women who work DON'T need to prove they can be good mothers? What does motherhood have to do with the careers of Curry and Heerdt at all?

Speaking of, Ann Curry wasn't on hand to accept her award at the luncheon. She was reporting in Darfur.