So today on Twitter, I RTd this link from Upworthy, a .gif rah-rah’ing Emma Stone for “calling out” the media during an interview with Teen Vogue (media which, one assumes, includes Teen Vogue itself), branding the questions she’s often asked regarding her personal life, her hair color, her style icons, etc. as sexist.
This, of course, would be superfabulous.
If it were 100% true.
Problem is, Upworthy took the last quote in its .gif (Stone saying, “It is sexism.”) utterly out of context, omitting the fact that it was actually the Teen Vogue reporter, Lauren Waterman, who was the first one to call this line of questioning “sexism” — and Stone simply agreed with her.
(Which, by the way, was met with a resounding, “Oh, come on,” by Stone’s boyfriend and co-interviewee, Andrew Garfield. Nice one, Andy. And just so you know? Saying Stone is your “hero” later in the piece doesn’t make up for your staggering douchedom here.)
To suggest that Waterman was blindly playing into the media’s usual “Who ya datin’, whatcha wearin’, how much were them shoes?” rigamarole does a disservice to both Waterman and Teen Vogue.
Because it is my understanding — and no doubt Stone’s and Waterman’s, too — that when interviewed by a fashion magazine, you are probably going to be asked about fashion. Go figure. (You want Stone’s take on the Greek austerity measures? Wait for her interview with The Economist.) Likewise, the additional questions about Stone’s personal life are de rigueur for any media outlet these days, fashion-centric or not. Last I checked, TMZ didn’t give a shit about Stone’s feminism, merely cramming her cheek-by-jowl next to a picture of Olivia Wilde under the charming headline: “Who’d You Rather?”
Which leads me to my point.
The very fact that in the published interview (meaning the Teen Vogue editors approved the content), both Stone and Waterman talk about the idea that this line of questioning is sexist is a giant leap forward in terms of openly examining and deconstructing the media’s objectification of women. Would Stone have actually used the word “sexism” if Waterman hadn’t? Who knows? Stone was already treading the line, telling Garfield that he’s never asked these kinds of questions in interviews “because you are a boy.” But credit where it’s due, it was Waterman who threw down the “sexism” gauntlet. And kudos to Stone, she picked it right up.
Now will this exchange stop Teen Vogue — or any media outlet — from asking these types of questions of women? Of course not. They know their audience — and that their audience has been indoctrinated into thinking that they’re entitled to the answers — thus in order to survive in the free market, they feel obliged to ask them.
My only request is, if the questions “must” be asked, at least have the ovaries to do what Waterman and Stone did: talk about why these questions are sexist, and how being reduced to your hair color, wardrobe, and personal life is the exact opposite of feminism, which sees a woman as a fully realized human being, not a collection of titillating soundbytes.