The Gender Double Standard in Interviews

Microphones of various styles isolated over white background

In a recent Funny or Die sketch, Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg interviewed each other for their upcoming movie, American Ultra. The premise of the sketch was that Eisenberg got the sexist and uncomfortable questions that Stewart usually had to answer and Stewart got the fun, lighthearted questions for a change. While the questions made Eisenberg squirm, Stewart was clearly enjoying the reprieve from the inane questions she was usually tasked with. They even pulled out the mani cam and forced Eisenberg to show off his nibbled down nails. The sketch ended when it was revealed that Stewart was pulling a prank on her co star, having switched the cards, and Eisenberg finally got it, saying, “Now I know what it feels like to be a woman.”

Kristen Stewart isn’t the only woman that experiences this brand of sexism. Female celebrities have to deal with invasive and, sometimes, creepy questioning with a smile on their face when giving interviews. Their male co stars get interesting questions like, “how did you prepare for this role,” while the women get asked if it’s difficult for them to balance work and family. No one is exempt from this questioning. From Helen Mirren to Halle Berry, every woman in the industry has had to deal with sexism while promoting their work.

Many actresses have been subtly and not-so-subtly fighting back. Anne Hathaway is notorious for shutting sexist questions down. Right before Les Mis came out, Hathaway had an interview with Matt Lauer. To start off the interview, Lauer brought up her recent wardrobe malfunction, asking her, “What’s the lesson learned from something like that?” Hathaway quickly shuts down the slutshaming and turns the question around to the movie that she is there to talk about. Later on in the same interview, Lauer asks her how she lost so much weight to portray a starving woman. Hathaway refused to answer exactly how, stating, “I did it to look like I was dying.” In another interview, for the Dark Knight Rises, the male interviewer wants to know all about Hathaway’s “feline fitness regime.” Completely bored, Hathaway tries to sidestep the questions until mockingly asking “What’s the deal man? You look great. What do you want? Are you trying to fit into a catsuit?

Scarlett Johansson is also infamous for getting annoyed with sexist reporters. The same man from Hathaway’s Dark Knight Rises interview tried to ask Johansson if she wore any underwear underneath her catsuit as Black Widow in the Avengers. When she called him out on it, he became defensive and asked if it was inappropriate to even ask that question and then got even more defensive when pointing out, I didn’t ask you what kind.” Jeremy Renner, her partner for that interview, was no help at all, only laughing as their interviewer got more and more flustered and Johansson more and more annoyed, reaching peak annoyance when she jokingly asked, “What kind of interview is this?” Throughout the entire Avengers press tour, ScarJo was repeatedly asked inane questions about her diet and catsuit while everyone else was asked interesting questions about how they got into character. After Robert Downey Jr. answered a particularly thoughtful question and Johansson was immediately asked about her diet, she asked “How come you get the really interesting existential question and I get the rabbit food question?” It’s sad to see how unfair people like Scarlett Johansson and Anne Hathaway are treated when they could really provide interesting insight to their movies and characters, but instead they’re stuck with the “rabbit food” questions.

Even rising star Cara Delevingne isn’t immune to rude interviewers. Just recently, while promoting her new movie Paper Towns, Delevingne was snidely and condescendingly questioned by the Good Day Sacramento hosts, after they got her name wrong, calling her Carla. They asked her questions like if she even bothered to read the book and the confusing, “Do you find that it’s easier to focus because you’re so busy?” When she wasn’t bubbling with joy to answer their repetitive, boring questions, another host asks if she’s exhausted from the tour because she looks like she is and she doesn’t seem to be as excited as she could be. All in all, that interview was cringeworthy from start to finish. Just because Delevingne wasn’t constantly smiling, the female host exclaimed, after they disconnected, “she was in a mood!”

Hopefully, the time of sexist interview questions is coming to an end. At the past Oscars, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls organization and the Representation Project launched the #AskHerMore initiative, calling for all reporters to ask celebrities deep, meaningful questions on the red carpet this year, not just “Who are you wearing?” and “How does you your family feel about your career?” The initiative just wants the questions to be equal for both the actors and actresses. Celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong’o, and many more showed their support for the project, tweeting the hashtag and not putting up with the meaningless questions they were given. If trends like this continue, maybe awkward interview encounters where women are asked about their underwear will become a thing of the past.

This article was written by Halley Dewey, a writer for dusk magazine. 

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1 Comment on The Gender Double Standard in Interviews

  1. arekexcelsior // July 21, 2016 at 3:36 am // Reply

    More exercises like the Funny or Die sketch are crucial. Men can’t understand what it’s like to be women, but we can understand what it’s like to be trivialized, demeaned, ignored, underestimated, or treated like we belong somewhere else.

    Like

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