12 times famous women perfectly shut down sexist interview questions

12 times famous women perfectly shut down sexist interview questions
Pascal Le Segretain / Theo Wargo / Larry Busacca / Getty Images

All too often, famous women are asked about their clothes, diets and love lives at the expense of any meaningful questions about their art.

Some bat away these questions, which are never put to famous men, while others turn them into a feminist teaching moment.

Here are 12 times women celebrities have done just that.

1. Taylor Swift shut down an interviewer who suggested she'd be leaving an awards show with a man

At the 2015 Grammys, Entertainment Tonight reporter Nancy O'Dell began to suggest that Swift would be taking a man home at the end of the night. She said:

"You're going to walk home with more than maybe just a trophy tonight, I think lots of men–"

But Swift cut her off, saying: "I'm not going to walk home with any men tonight... I'm going to go hang out with my friends and then I go home to the cats."

2. Rihanna had no time for a reporter who assumed she wanted a new boyfriend

At the launch of her perfume 'Rogue Man' in 2014, Rihanna was asked what she was "looking for in the next man".

She replied: "I'm not looking for a man. Let's start there."

3. Scarlett Johansson seriously had to respond to a question about what kind of underwear she wears

In an interview with Extra, Johansson was asked whether she was "able to wear undergarments" while playing Black Widow.

In near disbelief, Johansson hit back: "You're like the fifth person who's asked me this. What is going on? Since when did people start asking each other in interviews about their underwear?"

She then added, sarcastically: "I'll leave it up to your imagination. Whatever you feel like I should be wearing or not wearing under that costume."

Her co-star, Jeremy Renner, looked mortified.

4. Helen Mirren shut down a sexist interviewer back in 1975

In an extremely sexist interview, Michael Parkinson asked Helen Mirren: "Do you find that your figure, your physical attributes which people always go on about, hinder you in your pursuit of the ambition of being a successful actress?"

Mirren, then aged 30, responded: "A successful and serious actress... because serious actresses can't have big bosoms, is that what you mean?"

Parkinson, incredibly, replied: "Well, I think that they might sort of detract from the performance, if you know what I mean."

Mirren said: "Really? Ugh. I can't think that can necessarily be true. I mean, what a crummy performance if people are obsessed with the size of your bosom or anything else. I would hope that the performance and the play and the living relationship between all the people on stage and all the people in the audience overcome such boring questions."

Parkinson has since refused to apologise for the exchange.

5. Ariana Grande refused to answer whether she'd miss makeup or her phone more when asked by a radio DJ

Back in 2016, Ariana Grande was interviewed by Justin Credible and Eric D-Lux on Power 106 radio.

She was asked: "If you could use makeup or your phone one last time, which one would you pick?"

Grande responded: "Are you kidding me? Is this men assuming that that's what girls would have to choose between?"

She later told the hosts that they "need a little brushing up on equality".

6. Simone Biles had the perfect response to a TV host who suggested she should smile more

After Biles, an Olympic gymnast completed a routine on Dancing with the Stars and received a glowing review from the judges, host Tom Bergeron said: "I was waiting for you to smile at some of the compliments. You didn't."

She retorted: "Smiling doesn't win you gold medals."

7. Anne Hathaway batted away intrusive questions about her diet

The same Extra reporter – Jerry Penacoli – who asked Scarlett Johansson about her underwear asked Anne Hathaway how "form fitting" the catsuit she wore in The Dark Knight Rises was.

Hathway responded: "It was form-fitting, it's not a pair of sweatpants. I wouldn't describe it as that kind of comfortable. It was fine."

But when Penacoli pushed her on the details of her pre-filming work out regime, Hathaway cut him off: "Are you trying to lose weight? What's the deal, man, you look great. What do you want, are you trying to fit into a catsuit?"

8. Orange is the New Black stars Natasha Lyonne and Samira Wiley confronted an interviewer over this "misogynistic" question

Lyonne and Wiley were asked: "To work with each other, two beautiful ladies like you, two beautiful women. It's very hard to do this acting, especially on those days?"

Lyonne asked "what do you mean?", while Wiley added, "because of how beautiful we are?". The interviewer then clarified what he meant: he wanted to know whether it was hard to appear aggressive and fight with each other in character as such beautiful women.

Wiley said: "I think there is some stereotypes, maybe, that women are very catty on set with each other but that doesn't really happen on our set."

Lyonne then accused the interviewer of being accidentally misogynistic: "I feel like it's accidentally maybe a little bit misogynistic. Cause it's like, you're so beautiful, what's it like having to do all that acting? I can't tell if that's the question but if it is it's insane."

9. Carmen Carrera refused to answer an invasive question about her transition

Katie Couric asked Carrera whether her "private parts" have changed in a trans-misogynistic interview, for which she later apologised.

The model and activist responded: "I don't want to talk about it because it's really personal. And I'd rather talk about my modelling stuff, I'd rather talk about being in W and maybe in Italian Vogue. And doing fun stuff and showing people that after their transition there's still life to live. I still have my career goals, I still have my family goals, I want to have more kids. I want to focus on that rather than what's down here because that's been spoken about so many times in other interviews with other trans people. They always focus on either the transition or the genitalia and I feel like there's more to trans people than just that."

10. Lady Gaga pointed out a major double-standard between how men and women are treated when expressing their sexuality

Back in the '00s, Lady Gaga was asked: "You're not worried that they'll just check out the sexual references and not care about your music?"

She responded: "Not at all. I've got three number-one records and I've sold almost four million albums worldwide."

The interviewer then asked Gaga what has been the "biggest thrill" of her career so far, unaware that she wasn't finished schooling him. She said: "The gay community, because I love them so much. Because they don't ask me questions like that. Because they love sexual, strong women who speak their mind.

"You see, if I was a guy and I was sitting here with a cigarette in my hand, grabbing my crotch and talking about how I make music because I love fast cars and f*cking girls, you'd call me a rockstar. But when I do it in my music and in my videos, because I'm a female, because I make pop music, you're judgmental and you say that it is distracting. I'm just a rockstar."

11. Keira Knightly turned a sexist interview question back on the reporter

At the Hollywood Film Awards, the actress was asked: "How do you balance your work and personal life?"

She clapped back: "Are you going to ask all the men that tonight?"

12. Hayley Williams shut down an extremely inappropriate question about her sex life

While being interviewed on the radio, the Paramore singer was asked "when was your last orgasm?".

She responded: "We don't talk about that on the radio."

Her bandmate chipped in: "Not cool."

Although these famous women's responses are brilliant, wouldn't it be better if they weren't subject – repeatedly – to these questions at all?

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