"Who are you wearing?"
"What are you looking for in a man?"
"How do you balance work and family?"
Most award show red carpets reduce women to stylish hangers, and the best and brightest in the field are asked about their clothes and sex lives almost exclusively. It's a missed opportunity to discover what motivation they had in playing a character, how they prepared for a role, what books they might be reading right now, or anything pertaining to their brains.
Sick of the constant reinforcement of gender stereotypes, The Representation Project started the #AskHerMore campaign last year in the hopes of bringing more variety to the types of questions women are asked when they're in the public eye; it picked up steam this year thanks to video support from Amy Poehler's Smart Girls at the Party, in which Glee actress Heather Morris and comedian Dara Laine openly mock red carpet questions and stereotypes, and a hashtag revolution was born.
But was it successful?
The point wasn't to stop asking women about their dresses entirely, since we all realize that's part of the spectacle, but to ask them about more than just their clothes. Last night at the Oscars, Ryan Seacrest did a pretty good job — well, he asked Dakota Johnson which sex toy she brought home from the Fifty Shades of Grey set, so it's not like he was far-reaching there, but he eventually did much better. He questioned Lupita Nyong'o about who inspires her, talked with Sienna Miller about what it was like to be directed by Clint Eastwood, and asked America Ferrera a query about How To Train Your Dragon 2 that led to an interesting discussion about storytelling.
Shonda Rhimes, Gloria Steinem, and Lena Dunham were among a group of celebrities supporting #AskHerMore on Twitter:
The biggest #AskHerMore moment happened when Robin Roberts asked Reese Witherspoon about the project directly and literally gave the moment's name a shout-out during her questioning.
Witherspoon, who posted this image on Instagram earlier in the day supporting the cause, said, "This is a movement to say we’re more than just our dresses. There are 44 nominees this year that are women, and we are so happy to be here and talk about the work that we’ve done. It’s hard being a woman in Hollywood, or any industry.”
Even if there was still an overwhelming amount of chatter about clothes, we didn't see the mani-cam — and just a small amount of attention to the problem at least proved that given the chance and the push, it's possible to talk to women like fully-formed human beings.
Danielle Henderson is a lapsed academic, heavy metal karaoke machine, and culture editor at Fusion. She enjoys thinking about how race, gender, and sexuality shape our cultural narratives, but not in a boring way.