Katie Holmes sat down with The New York Times for an interview about her upcoming directorial debut, All We Had, based on the 2015 book by Annie Weatherwax, which focuses on a single mom and her teenage daughter during the 2008 financial crisis.
The New York Times interview even begins with Holmes, who has three older sisters, explaining, "I feel comfortable with telling female relationship stories because I’ve been surrounded by so many women my whole life.”
But for some reason, there was one topic the Times couldn't help but broach: Holmes' marital status. The interview ends with the writer, Kathryn Shattuck, asking — out of nowhere, might I add — "So are you still single or is there a secret marriage we have to talk about?"
Holmes laughs before politely answering this rather rude question. "Nooo, I’m not married," she said. "But thank you for asking."
How about, thanks, but no thanks, New York Times. We get it, there are rumors that Holmes is "secretly" dating Jamie Foxx, but that's the kind of question I'd expect from Us Weekly, not a place like the Times — especially when it's a topic Holmes didn't offer up herself.
In the interview, Holmes does talk about her daughter, Suri, to whom she dedicated the film. "I want her to always know that she’s the inspiration behind everything, and so hopefully it means something as she gets older," she said. "Just to let her know how important she is."
It's a sweet answer to a question that is about the work, which is what this whole interview was hinged on. When asked about parenting her daughter with Tom Cruise, Holmes even explains that she's looking to keep her out of the Hollywood spotlight.
"I try to make our world very much an environment that’s just all about being a kid without too much of Hollywood coming into that," she said. "And I just enjoy it." Holmes enjoys her privacy, which she has a right to. This includes her dating life, which should have been off the table.
Worse yet may be the fact that the marriage question ends this interview, as if it's more interesting than anything else.
Despite Holmes giving a non-answer to a question that shouldn't have been asked, this needed to be the kicker in your empowering story? There wasn't a more engrossing anecdote about her experience behind the camera? Or what she's going to be doing next? Nope, knowing about whether or not she has a husband was apparently the best.
None of us should be that surprised, though. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said in her TED Talk "We Should All Be Feminists," "When the time is right, we expect those girls to bring back the perfect man to be their husbands." We perceive a woman's worth as being synonymous with being desired. Having a husband is put forth in society as an "accomplishment" to be celebrated — often more so than any personal accomplishments a woman achieves on her own.
In an essay for The Huffington Post called "Getting Married Is Not An Accomplishment," Natalie Brooke expressed her frustrations over the fact that her engagement received much more fanfare than any of her academic and professional pursuits. In 2016, this is definitely not a phenomenon, most women (myself included) are asked daily when they're going to get married or have kids before being asked about their jobs.
Shattuck may not have intended to send the message that marriage is the most important thing in a woman's life. She was likely just asking because people are interested. Who doesn't want to be the one who gets the scoop? But in an interview that was focused on Holmes' personal accomplishments, the question leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
It's as if Holmes' real accomplishment of this year would have been bagging a man, had she responded yes. But instead, her no is a joke: "Ha ha, look how cute Katie Holmes is for saying thank you to this woman who should have minded her own business!"
It also sticks to the narrative surrounding most of Holmes' adult life; that she is defined by who she is married to. Tom Cruise will forever be a footnote in whatever she does and, for now, Jamie Foxx is also part of her story, whether she's dating him or not. In the end, it doesn't matter if Holmes is married or not, because she is her own person. It wouldn't add to anything she's done in her life. Those are all her accomplishments, no one else's. It's too bad that the New York Times didn't realize that.
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