by Alice Wilder
You probably already love Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson, and Anne Hathaway. They’re smart, talented, funny ladies who are damn good at what they do: acting and promoting their work. But my admiration doubled once they started discussing sexism in interviews.
I didn’t realize that girls are always being asked about the diets they had to go on for roles, while dudes get asked about character development until these ladies started speaking up about it
In an interview for The Dark Knight Rises Anne Hathaway was asked by a reporter “is there a certain regime you put yourself though in terms of the diet or the workout?” She asks him why he wants to know, if he is trying to lose weight. She ends the exchange on a serious note, “Seriously we have to talk about this. What, what do you want? Are you trying to fit into a cat suit?” I love this particular exchange because she keeps her normal bubbly attitude while taking down gross questions that probably weren’t asked to the male stars of the film.
In the June/July issue of Teen Vogue, Emma Stone and a Teen Vogue reporter discuss sexism in interviews:
ES: I have liked being blonde lately because I was blonde when I was little. So whatever I’m going through is easier because I look in the mirror and I look like I did when I was a kid. But people do always ask that. They ask who is my style icon, what’s the one thing that I can’t leave my house without. I’m always like, “My clothes!” I can pretty much leave without anything. It’s fine as long as I’m not naked.
AG: I don’t get asked that—
ES: You get asked interesting, poignant questions because you are a boy.
TV: It’s sexism.
ES: It is sexism.
AG: Oh, come on.
ES: [Points to Andrew] I get asked about relationships and stuff a hell of a lot more than this one does.
AG: That’s true
Just when I thought I couldn’t love Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield any more.
It’s possible that Stone is asked those questions more often because she’s more frequently in women’s magazines, where such questions are very common (or make for good sidebars or pull quotes) but it’s also true that she’s asked more about her dye job than seems necessary.
Earlier this summer, Johansson (playing the only female superhero in the Avengers movie) seemed to call out reporters at every turn. At a press conference The Avengers, a reporter asks an almost comically sexist question. Robert Downy Jr. gets multiple sentences about character development and acting technique, Johansson gets asked about dieting. And she doesn’t sit and take it.
Reporter: I have a question to Robert and to Scarlett. Firstly to Robert, throughout Iron Man 1 and 2, Tony Stark started off as a very egotistical character but learns how to fight as a team. And so how did you approach this role, bearing in mind that kind of maturity as a human being when it comes to the Tony Stark character, and did you learn anything throughout the three movies that you made?
And to Scarlett, to get into shape for Black Widow did you have anything special to do in terms of the diet, like did you have to eat any specific food, or that sort of thing?
Scarlett: How come you get the really interesting existential question, and I get the like, “rabbit food” question?
In an interview with Extra, she displays a similar ability to call out a reporter without hesitation. He asks about undergarments (that’s relevant to the film how?) and she shuts him down.
SJ: You’re like the fifth person that’s asked me that, what is going on? Since when did we start asking people in interviews about their underwear?
The interviewer tries to back out of the question, but Johannson continues,
“I’ll leave it up to your imagination. Whatever you feel like I should be wearing or not wearing under that costume…”
I: I didn’t ask what kind
SJ: You just asked if I was wearing any. Was I wearing underwear? Gosh, what kind of interview is this?!
Scarlett is visibly annoyed, both times, not apologizing for her opinions or couching them in tentative questions. She’s tired of getting the dumb questions and wants everyone to know it.
These actresses are awesome for talking back to the media, and calling out questions that they don’t like. I’m sure that’s not easy to do, especially knowing that this person could react by writing nasty things about you. They’re using their power as celebrities to speak the truth. I bet if you were publically called out by Scarlett Johansson you wouldn’t ask similar questions in the next interview. This is evidence that standing up for yourself doesn’t always have to be a huge dramatic action, it can also be as simple as having a conversation.