social media recently went abuzz with comments when US President Donald Trump singled out Caitriona Perry among other members of the Irish press who were gathered at the Oval Office. Trump had started a phone conversation with newly-elected Prime Minister Leo Varadkar when he motioned Perry, a Washington correspondent and US bureau chief of RTÉ News – Ireland, to come forward, noting the “nice smile on her face.”

The incident drew strong reactions from Perry’s media colleagues after she tweeted the short video of what she described as “the bizarre moment when President @realDonaldTrump called me over during his call with Taoiseach.” Perry had also posted another video of Trump congratulating Varadkar for his victory, but it was the other video that many netizens found cringeworthy and elicited a train of reactions.

Trump comment elicits feelings of uneasiness

The general feeling of unease the incident evoked led to much discussion on Twitter. Author Cristin Harber expressed, “It's hell to be objectified. When POTUS has no fear of doing that surrounded by cameras... I'm so sorry. Your success is more than a smile.”

Many writers noted how Perry handled the situation so well and conveyed through online comments how sorry they were she had to go through such a situation. A handful said the circumstance was “a moment of inoffensive levity” that the video could attest to.

Objectification vs. inoffensive remarks

In an age when women from all walks of life and occupation are standing up for what they believe in, and instantaneously expressing their views through social media, the incident may have merited mere fleeting attention.

Yet discerning members did not let it pass by without airing their reactions.

Interestingly, it is not just the press that can make utmost use of social media these days. Government agencies and institutions all over the world have made their projects and advocacies known, and their voices heard, through leading social networking sites.

Interestingly, even Trump has declared that his use of social media is not presidential – “it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL,” he recently tweeted.

Such an incident where a female reporter or member of the press has been singled out by a head of state for her looks has taken place in other places, including Asia. When Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte engaged in catcalling Filipina reporter Mariz Umali during a press conference, her media colleagues reacted negatively. There were some who noted how the public had overreacted to the president noticing an attractive member of the press, but many others would not stand for it.