While the average person might only have to deal with various inappropriate inquiries from a curious family member (we’re particularly tired of the”Why aren’t you married yet?” and “When are you having children?” line of questioning), for female celebrities, a relentless stream of personal probes is a never-ending reality. The eyes of the world are glued to Hollywood; trends and fads and ‘what’s in’ dictated by the glitzy corner of the earth, so if those in the public eye are still fighting to quell the stereotypes and double standards, the task is surely twice as hard for the everyday woman.
And the issues frequently revert to female public figures. Too often the private lives and physical appearance of the women who grace Hollywood’s big and small screens seem to take precedence over the quality of their work and their credentials. And while men aren’t entirely exempt from obnoxious questions about their barren households or getting a side-eye for dating younger women, a disproportionate number of female actors have to deal with fewer lead roles and lower pay from studios. So many are calling for equality, but women have to fight to get it. How bad are the double standards? Appallingly bad seems an accurate description.
Just this week, two women – model and actress Emily Ratajkowski and indie actress Chloë Sevigny – were in the spotlight discussing the reasons they’ve been getting the shaft from Tinseltown. As well as being degrading, both stories were total contradictions indicating that Hollywood is determined to try and keep an iron grip on their ludicrous labelling of women.
I went in, and I was dressed a little provocatively because I was dressing the part. He’s all, ‘Oh you should show your body off more before you get too old … you should show it off now’
Ratajkowski discussed how being sexy cost her work. “If you’re a sexy actress it’s hard to get serious roles,” she said. “You get offered the same thing that they’ve seen you in. People are like sheep, and they’re like ‘Oh, that’s what she does well.’ What’s so dumb is that women are 50 percent of the population, and they want to spend money to see movies where they’re portrayed as three-dimensional characters.” Damn straight. Sevigny said the opposite, and explained that she was told that she would get more roles if she showed off her body before she became “too old.”
“I went in, and I was dressed a little provocatively because I was dressing the part,” she said. “He’s like, ‘Oh you should show your body off more before you get too old … you should show it off now; you never show your body.’ I’m like, actually I’ve been nude in almost every movie I’ve done so I don’t know what you’re watching!”
So, let’s get this straight: you can be sexy, but never too seductive, show off some skin while you can, but wait, don’t think of showing off too much and definitely don’t do it if you’re a mother or over 50 – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg – is anyone else exhausted from this madness?
This is 2016, and naturally this one-sided, sexist attitude didn’t begin yesterday; esteemed actress and performer Barbra Streisand said this had been happening from the focal point of her career, and Charlize Theron, Emma Thompson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Dakota Johnson and Melissa McCarthy are only a handful of others who have publically rallied for an end to this. Talented, enigmatic and hardworking women are constantly given the short straw; it’s their accomplishments that should be shouted about, instead endless column inches are given to their choice of designer on the red carpet. Yes, some of this is warranted, but it shouldn’t be the focus point.
Remember the “Who are you Wearing” debate? The inane red carpet banter about the hours it took to conform to Hollywood’s beauty standards led Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss to flip off the “mani cam,” and Cate Blanchett famously asked, “do you do that to the guys?!” when E! News’ camera roamed down the length of her body to capture her Oscars gown. Yet when Kevin Spacey received a similar line of questioning about his outfit, hairstyle, and whether he was wearing Spanx, he asked the reporter — who was deliberately giving him a ‘female line of questioning’ — if she had “smoked something before she arrived.”
Men have been [dating younger women] for years, and it’s no big deal
The same extends to whether a woman decides to have children. Actress Helen Mirren is still asked about her “big decision” to refrain from doing so (as is Kim Cattrell), whereas prior to his much-publicised marriage to Amal, George Clooney was lauded for his bachelor lifestyle sans children. And moving on to the subject of gaps (don’t even get us started on wage disparity), it’s women who are frequently ridiculed if they have a partner of a younger age, whereas men don’t catch nearly as much flack for dating young women – it’s seen as “the norm.”
Jennifer Lopez repeatedly gets called a cougar for the 17-year age gap between her and 28-year-old former boyfriend Casper Smart, while older men are practically congratulated for doing the same thing. “Men have been doing this for years, and it’s no big deal,” said Lopez.
The root of the problem lies in that language defines the way women and men are viewed in the entertainment industry; women are wrongly measured by a different standard. He’s ‘committed.’ She’s ‘obsessed.’ He’s simply asking for what he wants, whereas, she’s a’diva.’
It’s been said that a man’s reach should exceed his grasp. Why can’t that be true of a woman?
And while no magic wand will make the problem disappear, what’s encouraging is that women are unafraid to speak about this openly, and their voices are getting louder. In 2016, it’s easy to ask: Why are we still having this conversation? Because, yes it feels like we’re going around in circles. Yet, it’s an important discussion to continue to have as the issue persists. And it will continue to be an issue unless we keep shouting; keep talking, writing, and demanding things change.