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.