Feminism / Films / Food & Gender

Scarlett Johansson Tired of Sexist Diet Questions

Originally published at Bitch Flicks and cross-posted at Women and Hollywood.

Wow, who knew I could love Scarlett Johansson so much??

At The Avengers press conference in London, a reporter proceeded to ask Robert Downey Jr. an in-depth, thought-provoking question about his character (Tony Stark/Iron Man) and then asked Johansson about her diet. I shit you not.

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?”

Amen, sister! If you watch the video, you’ll see just how perturbed Johansson is to be asked. As she should be. Why the hell did the reporter save the diet question for one of the two women on the panel??

Johansson has spoken in favor of feminism (yet doesn’t necessarily call herself a feminist) and female friendship, supports Planned Parenthood and condemns Hollywood’s ageism against women calling it “a very vain, vain industry.”  So it’s no surprise she calls out this bullshit. I only wish more actors and members of the media would follow her lead.

The reporter’s question particularly rubs me the wrong way because lots of women have such a contentious relationship with food. Eating should be a fun, sensual, pleasurable experience. But too many women fear food, afraid of what it will do to their bodies. The media monitors and polices women’s consumption. Between diet books, exercise DVDs, weight loss shakes, low-fat foods – the dieting industry is a money-making juggernaut. And it’s geared towards women.

In response to the asinine question, Sarah at Pop Cultured astutely asserts:

“The respect given to you if you’re a man in the entertainment business, and the respect given to you if you’re a woman in the entertainment business: all perfectly summed up in one idiotically thought out line of questioning.”

It’s ridiculous — not to mention offensive and sexist — Hollywood, the entertainment industry, and the media lavish praise on men for their minds and their talents while objectifying women and reducing female actors to their appearances. As we recently witnessed with Ashley Judd fighting back against toxic bodysnarking and the heinous criticism of Jennifer Lawrence’s body, the media constantly scrutinizes, visually dismembers, critiques and polices women’s bodies. The media wreaks havoc on women’s body images, telling us we’re too fat or too skinny. Never just right.

This constant bombardment of objectification of women leads to normalizing sexism and violence against women. It reinforces the notion that women are nothing more than sex objects for the male gaze.

So reporters, think twice before you ask a woman yet another stupid diet question. Ugh.


5 thoughts on “Scarlett Johansson Tired of Sexist Diet Questions

  1. Pingback: Social Consciousness in “The Avengers” « Femiblogged

  2. She should have said:
    “I was allowed to eat only male spiders…”
    (Get it? Black Widow? Or is that another type of spider…)

  3. I commend Scarlett for calling out the reporter for being so sexist and typical in his/her questioning. I always loved her as both and actress and a person, and my respect for her has now grown even more!

    But seriously! The character Black Wirdow? There is so much potential there for really good thought-provoking questions! And they just ask how Scarlett got in shape for her….*Sigh.* Everything you say is true! Hollywood focues way too much on appearance when it comes to female celebrities!

  4. It shows you what the reporter was looking at when it came to the Black Widow character: Dat Ass. I am not kidding. I was in a theater with my cousin and whenever Scarlett would come onto the screen, the guys in the audience would wolf-whistle. It’s sad how much Hollywood objectifies women. I’m proud of Scarlett for not just blindly responding to the question and actually bringing up a good point. A male in Hollywood is ogled by the audience just as much, but for some reason it’s decided that the men don’t really diet and the women have to. It’s disgusting and chauvinistic. Here is hoping that my gender and the movie industry start to think of women as people. I do every day. Some of my best friends (and the ones I want to spend the most time with) are women. I love a smart girl and I don’t care if she’s obese or rail thin. I like a woman for her mind.

  5. Well, she is wearing a skintight super-hero costume.
    And she is known as much for her beauty & sex appeal, as she is for her acting.
    Does anybody remember, ‘Lost in Translation?’
    The first scene was a lingering shot of Scarlett’s ass.
    The director of this film was a woman.

    If i was as beautiful as Scarlett, i’d run with it!
    So many plain looking actresses, with loads more talent, don’t get the same
    opportunities she does.

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