Harvard President Drew Faust Weighs In on The Social Network

by Melissa Silverstein on October 20, 2010

in Sexism

In one of my posts on The Social Network I wondered what Drew Faust, the first female president of the university thought of the film and the depiction of her university and its students.

Well, she’s seen it Just like most of us and she shared her thoughts on the film with the Harvard Crimson.

Here’s what she said:

As a fan of the “The West Wing,” Faust said she appreciated screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s snappy dialogue for the movie. But she said that she was troubled by the lack of strong female characters.

“I was very concerned about the portrayal of women,” Faust said. “All the people who had agency in this movie who were important were all men…There are the spurned girlfriends, there are the people at parties, but women don’t seem to be full participants in Harvard student life.”

That depiction, Faust said, does not line up with the Harvard she knows.

According to Faust, Sorkin failed to deliver the powerful women that consistently confronted—and often deflated—the large male egos of the Bartlet administration in his long-running television series.

“I think Aaron Sorkin wrote such great female characters in ‘The West Wing,’” she said. “C.J. and Donna were fabulous, but there’s no similar representation of terrific female characters in ‘The Social Network.’”

Drew Faust Weighs in on ‘The Social Network
‘ (The Harvard Crimson)


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

christina October 20, 2010 at 11:06 AM

Hmm…I agree with her on CJ, but Donna annoyed the crap out of me for seven seasons. She didn’t have really any agency until she started (spoiler alert, I guess) working for Bingo Bob’s presidential campaign. For five years straight she was Josh’s secretary/mom who of course was so OMG in luv with him that she didn’t mind the lack of advancement career wise. Although she does end up as Mrs. Santos’s COS, so I guess the series finale redeems everything?

When I think of strong women from the West Wing, I think of CJ and Dr. Bartlet, but I also think of the strong women who often just disappeared when they didn’t fit with the men’s storylines anymore: Mandy, Amy Gardner, Joey Lucas.

b October 20, 2010 at 1:02 PM

I saw the film this weekend. I was struck by the two young women (aka groupies) in Zuckerberg’s computer science class who offered to meet them for a drink and sex in the bathroom. Really, this is how female computer science majors at Harvard behave, women who were mots likely the valedictorians of their High School??

wby October 21, 2010 at 11:34 AM

West Wing was fiction, The Social Network non-fiction. In real life, men are generally the innovators who move society ahead.

Vanessa October 21, 2010 at 10:19 PM

This is so typical of a Harvard intellectual moronic elitist … the movie is based on actual events! Would Madame President of Harvard like for Aaron Sorkin to invent “strong female characters” just to pepper the story?

Sort of like…. electing a president just because he’s black. Idiots. All they look for is tokenism, not equality.

Eileen October 23, 2010 at 6:52 PM

Vanessa if you knew anything (and you don’t, clearly) you would know that several women central to the life of Zuckerman and to the development of Facebook were excised by Sorkin in order to strengthen his thesis.

Oh dear, did you think you were watching a documentary? You poor deluded thing.

Drea October 26, 2010 at 2:04 AM

Vanessa, the movie is actually loosely based on a book that is very loosely based on actual events. Check out this article:

Pay attention to the parts of the article that say: “shortly before Thefacebook launched, the real-life Zuckerberg began seriously dating a girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, with whom he lives today. He was with her during almost all the events portrayed in the movie.”

So why isn’t she in the movie???

and “there’s no evidence Zuckerberg ever had groupies, or had sex in a bathroom stall.”

Sorkin October 28, 2010 at 2:18 AM

Leave it to some cunt to bring up her personal politics and advance an agenda when given the rare opportunity to address a sizable audience. An opportunity, mind you, that was provided, exclusively, by the work of men. I hope you ride coat tales the rest of your life.

Lilly June 6, 2011 at 4:09 PM

Woah Sorkin, I hope you’re joking with those words there. If not than you are a horrible human being. Your mother must be ashamed, and probably your father too.

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