Last Saturday, the Oscars fell upon us once again. To be completely honest, I did not even know the Oscars were happening. Yes, you can make fun of the fact that I live under a rock but at least it is cordial and cozy under there. Through make no mistake, I was made well aware that the Oscars were going down the second I opened Twitter and was bombarded with a timeline of Jimmy Choo shoes and Prada clutches. Much to my content, the greatest observation I made from the continuous stream of live tweets pouring in was the overwhelming presence of the hashtag, “#askhermore.”
The #askhermore hashtag was a movement started last year to get red carpet reporters to ask women more intelligent questions rather than just trivial questions such as what is she wearing. The idea for the hashtag movement was started last year by the Representation Project, an organization that is trying to use films and the movie industry as a catalyst for overcoming limiting stereotypes in the media. If it was up to me, I would give them all the Oscars for starting this movement.
Watching the red carpet is like pre-gaming for the party: you do not necessarily have to do it, but you will feel like you are doing it wrong if you miss it. That being said, a lot of people tune in to watch their favorite nominees walk down this colorful rug. E!’s “Live from the Red Carpet” show gathered 3.1 million viewers this year alone.
And do you know what the hot, thought provoking question of the day was? “What are you wearing? We are all just dying to know!”
Seriously? You are given a starting platform of at least 3 million viewers and this is the direction we go in? We should be using this opportunity to discuss social issues and concerns with these celebrities, not what shoes they decided to wear to the nominations.
There is no denying that fashion is naturally a part of the red carpet, and it rightfully should be. I know for a fact that if I am walking around in high heels and tight dress, I will feel confident and radiant and that is something reporters should touch upon. Discussing what one is wearing is perfectly fine and entertaining to watch, but only to an extent; when somewhere along the way you make a woman feel like she is a walking, talking mannequin, that is when we have gone too far.
On the flip side, while men do receive questions about fashion and health like women do, it is not in the same objectifying manner. Also, showing this comparison of men as the source of intelligence and women as eye-candy so continuously creates a terrible mentality that even though these actresses are working with the same people on the same movie as other actors, they are still inferior. Instead of being asked a mentally stimulating question, women are instead asked to discuss their fashion, health, personal lives, etc.
I think that Hadley Freeman, a New York fashion columnist and writer, epitomized this whole phenomena perfectly: “This is a strange pocket of the western world where it is still deemed utterly acceptable to take smart, successful women and reduce them to beauty pageant contestants…”
Like all things in Hollywood, #askhermore was a bit blown up and dramatized, but perhaps that is a good thing. The fight for gender equality should not be done quietly. #askhermore knocks down the stereotype that women are associated with having beauty, a butt and no brains in a way that girls everywhere can see the fight unfold and take part in as well.
Who knows, if this mentality somehow sticks among the crazy artificial nature of Hollywood, I just might remember what day the Oscars are next year.