Ask about more than nails, dresses and shoes

Ask+about+more+than+nails%2C+dresses+and+shoes

Courtesy of Cinefilles.ca

Feminism deserves a place in all professions.

Some jobs have made more strides in the way of equality than others, however. But in the film industry, women continue to be treated as lesser by reporters and paparazzi in a way many people might not consider — the quality of questions interviewers ask.

There is a disturbing tradition in the film industry of women being asked about nothing that matters. Female celebrities deserve to be recognized for their achievements, goals and interests just as male celebrities are. It is not hard to forego questions about how long it takes a woman to get ready for a question about her charity work, family or career goals.

This is exactly what some celebrities are advocating with the twitter tag #AskHerMore, a movement started by the Representation Project in 2014.

For the Oscars this year several celebrities took to Twitter to request red carpet interviewers to ask better questions of female celebrities. These women, including Reese Witherspoon, Lena Dunham and Amy Poehler, are tired of only being asked about their outfits.

In a 2012 interview with Teen Vogue, Emma Stone called out a reporter for asking her celebrity boyfriend Andrew Garfield interesting questions but asking her about her hair color.

“You get asked interesting, poignant questions because you are a boy,” Stone told Garfield during the interview. “It’s sexism.”

“They have more important things to talk about than the clothes they’re wearing, like their acting and their talent and ability,” said first-year actor Elliot Jarrett. “It’s amazing what they do.”

Others think that the responsibility for changing the culture of award shows lies not only with the press, but with the actors themselves.

“I think the problem is partly on the celebrities for spending so much money and effort on their appearance,” said sophomore Christian Honein. “Of course, the interviewers should make an effort to widen the scope of questions, but when you’re spending thousands of dollars on a dress for one night, people are going to ask you about it.”

Putting the blame on the actresses, however, is misguided. A huge part of these women’s jobs is to look good, so you can’t blame them for doing their job. The larger problem is the culture of the red carpet and Hollywood in general that says that you have to look a certain way at all.

The women supporting the #AskHerMore movement were not the only ones using the Oscars to make feminist proclamations. Patricia Arquette from the movie “Boyhood” used her acceptance speech to comment on wage inequality in the film industry.

“It’s time for all the women in America and all the men who love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve fought for to fight for us now,” said Arquette in a backstage interview after the event.

Arquette’s speech, while highly praised by some, is also misguided. Feminism that separates queer people and people of color from women is not true feminism. Arquette must only be referring to the rights of straight white women if she is separating queer people and people of color from the category of ‘women.’

“That brings up an ‘us and them’ mentality,” said senior Heather Nelson. “We’re a ‘we,’ and we all need to fight for each other. If you’re oppressed, it is the duty of everyone else to rise up to assist you. That’s just humanity.”

Social movements like #AskHerMore are incredibly important for publicizing the struggle for equality in the film profession. Events like the Oscars can be a soapbox for ideas, which can be a great thing, but the only responsible way to advocate equality is to include everyone.

Reporters must ask better questions to every female celebrity of all sexualities and ethnicities. Only then will these women be seen for who they are and not how they look.