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Cross-Post: Quote of the Day: Scarlett Johansson Tired of Sexist Diet Questions

by Megan Kearns
June 1, 2012 9:33 AM
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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 that question. As she should be. Why the hell did the reporter save the diet inquiry 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.


Megan Kearns blogs at The Opinioness of the World and writes for Bitch Flicks and Fem2pt0. Originally written for Bitch Flicks and was published with permission.

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More: Scarlett Johansson, Sexism, Feminism

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  • Kev | July 12, 2014 4:39 PMReply

    The day I see a single news site focus on what men are wearing on the red carpet, I'll buy that entertainment media isn't sexist.

  • chimproller | June 20, 2012 1:58 AMReply

    Funny how no one but lesbians want to be called a "feminist" these days.

  • Kev | July 12, 2014 4:38 PM

    Gee, you mean after 40 years of demonization, out-and-out lies about that Feminisim is anti-man, reinforced "college dyke" stereotypes in every sector of the media, and the marginalization of women's issues to a back-page, people might not want to be labeled as this thing that you "people" have defined as monstrous?

    Who'da thunk it? Tool.

  • Alex | October 24, 2012 12:13 AM

    It's funny how incredibly wrong and prejudicial your comment is.

  • Victoria | June 22, 2012 9:24 AM

    Nope, there's even some lesbians who rather not call themselves feminists because of the men-hater lesbian feminist stereotype.

  • InternJack | June 14, 2012 1:59 AMReply

    I'd have understood the question if the actress had to do something extrodinary inorder to "fit" in to the character. It's been years but I can still remember Meryl Streep's physical change for the role in Sophie's Choice or her role as Margaret Thatcher. Or I could have understood if the question was about the physical requirements of the character. It is a rather physical role.

    The sad thing about this interview was the layers of back story that must have gone into the prep work for the character. If you've seen the film, Ms. Johansson's character, Black Widow, has a hidden past that Loki tries to use to manipulate her character. And it's this unnamed past that drives her character.


  • LeonRaymond | June 2, 2012 5:12 PMReply

    Right on Scarlett, it is BS, Why didn't she get asked about character prep, and thoughts on what made her accept the role as opposed to something else, that was a timid question posed to a woman of substance, she would never would have asked that question to one of the Male actors, and it's not fair, as a guy , don't defend that BULLSHIT , don't justify questions like that, it was not biased , thank god there was no Black women in the cast for that question, cause I could have imagined the sexist and racist question asked!!!

  • ginger liu | June 1, 2012 6:43 PMReply

    Fair is fair guys/gals. I call it when I can - I'm not a blind follower of feminism. This reporter is a total nut job. She writes about sexism and Scarlett. Guess what? The reporter who asks her the question about food was a woman and later on in the conference a male reporter asks a cool question to the women about their roles in a male dominated genre. Perhaps this feminist writer didn't get that far. I'm a feminist but your write up on this is biased.

  • Kev | July 12, 2014 4:40 PM

    Yep, the demographics of the questioner is what's important here, not the ridiculously shallow question she asked.

  • dane molli | February 10, 2014 12:07 PM

    just because the sexist question came from a woman does not suddenly make it not sexist. bravo to Scarlet for calling it out.

  • Audrey | June 1, 2012 4:19 PMReply

    Reporters will always ask stupid questions to anyone in the public eye, male or female, actor or athlete. It's something you just have to deal with in the industry, but go Scarlet, for sticking up for her worth as an actor and contributor to the film.

  • No | June 1, 2012 10:26 AMReply

    As a self-described connoisseur of the female form, I couldn't agree with you more. I have noticed the unrelenting viciousness of policing of women's bodies in the MSM. It has even gotten to the point where the Hufftington Post is doing stupid takes on celebrity "side -boobs"!! I mean a woman can't even walk out her home without her bra size being questioned.

    Also, the question to Downey wasn't really that deep or introspective. C'mon, I love Downey and Ironman, but how much real preparation does one have to do to display a comic book character. Not much. Johannson's character had an interesting background, which the reporter could have explored since she is the least known. Besides, every reporter asks the same question of an actor about preparing for a role.

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