Films / Magazines / Women and Gender

Actor Emma Stone Points Out Sexist Double Standards in Media

Originally published at Bitch Flicks.

It’s no surprise sexism permeates the media. Women are constantly judged and praised for their beauty and appearance. Not their merit, intellect or accomplishments. This incessant importance on women’s appearances over their talent reduces us to objects.

As I perused my Pinterest feed last week, I came across a picture courtesy of Upworthy of Emma Stone calling out sexism. Could it be? Is Stone a secret feminist?? I had to investigate.

In its August 2012 issue, Teen Vogue conducted a joint interview with Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield to promote The Amazing Spider-Man (Sidebar, do we really need a Spider-Man reboot?? How about a Wonder Woman or Catwoman film first…ugh). After the interviewer inquired, “Emma, I have to ask about your hair color,” Stone talked about how she preferred being a blonde because it’s the hair color she possessed as a child. But then here’s where things get awesome.

Emma Stone: 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.

Andrew Garfield: I don’t get asked that—

Emma Stone:You get asked interesting, poignant
questions because you are a boy.

Teen Vogue: It’s sexism.

Emma Stone: It is sexism.

Women and men getting asked different questions strictly based on their gender? Yep, it sure is sexism.

I already knew Stone was pretty fab. In addition to her hilarious public appearances at the Emmys and the Oscars, she’s a funny and talented actor. The same woman who convinced
her parents to let her move to Hollywood with a power point presentation
seizes the moment to point out sexist gender disparities in the media. What makes her astute comment even better? She calls out sexism in a fashion magazine…for young women.

At first glance, it seems to make sense fashion and beauty magazines would ask celebs questions belonging to the realm of fashion, hair, cosmetics, diet and exercise. I mean that’s their job, right? So why do I care that Stone — or any celeb — is constantly asked about her hair color or her style icon? What’s the big deal?

The media constantly dissects, critiques and polices women’s bodies. Men don’t face the same bombardment of scrutiny. This sexist double standard perpetuates the notion that men lead while women serve as objects of beauty.

As much as I love clothes, fashion and beauty magazines can wreak havoc on women’s and girls’ self-esteem and body image. According to Miss Representation, “3 out of 4 teen girls feel depressed, guilty and shameful after spending 3 minutes leafing through a fashion magazine.” But beauty and diet questions aren’t merely relegated to fashion and fitness magazines. Mainstream media outlets obsessively ask women these questions too.

At a press conference for The Avengers a few months ago, Scarlett Johansson exhibited her exasperation at the way the media treats women differently than men. Johansson’s co-star Robert Downey Jr. received a lengthy, “interesting and existential question” about Iron Man’s growth and maturity, which would have allowed him to talk about his inspiration, motivation and talent. What question did this same reporter ask Johansson? She was asked about what food she ate…another sexist diet question.

A reporter for Extra also interrogated Johansson about the underwear she wore under her svelte Black Widow suit and Anne Hathaway about her diet and exercise regimen to fit into the slinky Catwoman costume — while he asked their male co-stars about the films and their characters.

The media treats men as complex, introspective artists while simultaneously reducing women to objects, only interrogating them about their hair color, clothing, diet, and fitness regimens. The message is clear: women’s talent and intellect don’t really matter. Only their outer beauty and thinness matters.

In the past few months, the media has egregiously objectified female Olympic athletes, bodysnarked Ashley Judd’s allegedly “puffy” face, spewed a sexist backlash against Girls and Lena Dunham’s weight, and deemed Jennifer Lawrence’s body too fat and not “hungry enough” to play Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.

Thankfully, we’ve also witnessed Ashley Judd, Meryl Streep, Zoe Saldana, Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway (in an albeit subtle way), Sarah Polley, Rashida Jones and now Emma Stone calling out sexism — objectification, body policing and double standards — in the media and Hollywood. Teens have also started speaking out with petitions against Seventeen and Teen Vogueto cease photoshopping and increase images of diversity. We need more people — women and men — denouncing misogyny and sexism. Only then can we hope to attain equality.

Hollywood, like the rest of society, is far from gender equitable. Female actors earn far less than their male colleagues. Only 33% of speaking roles belong to women. Women write only 10% and direct a mere 7% of the 250 top grossing domestic films. We don’t see nearly enough complex women on-screen as too many films revolve around white dudes. All of these abysmal stats coinciding with the media’s rampant objectification, misogyny and sexism strip women and girls of their power.

With Teen Vogue’s huge readership, who knows…maybe young women will read Stone’s interview, see the discussion of sexism and start questioning the gender disparities in the media’s depiction of women. Maybe Stone’s comment will help catalyze change. Hey, a woman can dream.

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2 thoughts on “Actor Emma Stone Points Out Sexist Double Standards in Media

  1. It’s interesting that you mention the “Fierce Five” from the
    Olympics.
    I was reading the comments online, after a Yahoo article about their
    recent Letterman appearance, and it consisted of:
    1. Mackayla is so hot!
    2. Aly & Mackayla are way cuter than the other one’s.
    3. I’d put a smirk on that chick’s face…

    First of all, these girls are like 16 years old!
    Second of all, they won Gold in the freaking Olympics!
    Not any mention of their skill, insane dedication, the
    training, the pride in that they represented the U.S….

    We’ve become such a dumb, fat, bloated, sexist, ignorant
    country, it’s so sad.
    I cannot even imagine, being a young girl, growing up in
    today’s society.
    Being a guy, nobody cares if i’m hot or not
    (I am, btw….Kidding!)

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