A brief history of women shutting down sexist interview questions
‘Because serious actresses can’t have big bosoms is that what you mean?’
An old video of Dame Helen Mirren expertly handling sexist interview questions has recently resurfaced, and Helen’s responses are goals.
The interview shows Mirren, a well-known actress, being questioned by British talk show host, Michael Parkinson.
The video first went viral in 2008, when it was posted on YouTube and received almost three million views.
The interview starts with Parkinson saying “You are in quotes a serious actress.” Mirren is immediately offended, and rightfully so. “In quotes? What do you mean in quotes? How dare you.”
Parkinson continues to shove his foot in his mouth by asking Mirren if she feels her “equipment” hinders her being taken seriously as an actress.
Mirren plays dumb asking Parkinson if he means her fingers, forcing Parkinson to explain he is talking about her figure.
Mirren then questions Parkinson about why her figure, or the size of her bosoms, should affect her acting career.
Mirren shuts Parkinson down with the perfect response saying, “What a crummy performance if people are obsessed with the size of your bosoms more than anything else.”
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mirren calls Parkinson a “fucking sexist old fart”, and says she is surprised with how well she handled the sexist line of questioning.
Mirren wasn’t the first to face sexist questions, and unfortunately she won’t be the last.
Many other famous women have endured similar questions, including Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, Ariana Grande, Cara Delevingne, and, most recently, many female Olympians.
Anne Hathaway faced questions about slimming down for her role as Catwoman in “The Dark Knight Rises”. After the interviewer continued to badger her about her fitness regime, she turned the questions around and asked, “Are you trying to lose weight? What’s the deal?”
Johansson is asked similar questions about her fitness regime, while preparing for her role in “The Avengers” – and then a more intrusive question, about what undergarments she wears under her suit.
She responded brilliantly, “I’ll leave it up to your imagination,” Johansson says. “What kind of interview is this?”
During the Avengers UK Press Conference, Robert Downey Jr was asked a complex question about what he learned while playing Tony Stark. Johansson on the other hand was asked, a question she has repeatedly been asked, about what she did to get into shape for the film.
Johansson addressed the sexism in her response by saying, “How come you get the really interesting existential question, and I get the rabbit food question?”
Ariana Grande, like Scarlett, is not afraid to call out interviewers for their sexism. She was asked if she could use make-up or her phone one last time which one she would pick. To which she responds, “Is this men assuming this is what girls would have to choose between?”
When Grande says she likes to be present, and not distracted by her phone, one of the interviewers replies “Ladies learn.” Grande quickly snaps back with “Boys learn, come on. Boys and girls, we can all learn.”
The sexist remarks continue throughout the interview, and Grande doesn’t cut the interviewers any slack.”You need a little brushing up on equality, come on,” she says.
Grande ends the interview by saying if she could change one thing in the world it would be ending judgment, including double-standards, sexism, and misogyny.
Sexist interviews aren’t always as overt as the ones above. Cara Delevingne endured one very awkward interview.
Delevingne is asked if she even read the book “Paper Towns” while preparing for her role in the film. This is a question according to John Greene, the author, that her male counterpart Nat Wolff wasn’t usually asked. Wolff was instead asked what he thought of the book when he read it.
Delevingne replied to this question and the other cringe-worthy questions in a sarcastic manner. The interviewers minimized her accomplishments, and asked her in a worried tone how she handles being so busy, a question most male actors wouldn’t be asked.
At the end of the interview one of the interviewers, treated Delevingne like a whiny child by saying, “You do seem a bit irritated…we’ll let you take a little nap, get a Red Bull, how ’bout that?” Delevingne doesn’t even grace them with a response, but her face says it all.
Women aren’t just asked sexist interview questions, they are also often talked about in a sexist manner. The most recent example of this is the women of the Rio Olympics, which concluded yesterday.
On multiple occasions, world-class athletes were discussed only in terms of how they looked when they stepped up to the podium.
In a Fox News interview two panelists are asked, “Do you think that women should feel like they need to be empowered by wearing make-up?”
The question in itself is sexist but panelist Bo Dietl’s response is even worse.
“Why not a little blush on her lips and cover those zits, I’d like to see a person that wins that gold medal go up there and look beautiful,” Dietl says. “Would you put money behind a gal that won the gold medal that looks like a washed out rag?”
Adam Kreek, Canadian rower, rips apart tennis player, Eugenie Bouchard, for posting selfies on Instagram, “Maybe she wants something different than to be a competitor.”
A woman’s worth should be based on the content of her character – never how much make-up she wears, her workout regime, or her breasts.