7 times women have been asked sexist questions by reporters

Sandra Bullock gave one reporter a lesson in hair roots at the press conference for her movie 'Our Brand Is Crisis' during the 40th annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), 12 September 2015. The festival runs from 10 to 20 September.
Sandra Bullock gave one reporter a lesson in hair roots at the press conference for her movie 'Our Brand Is Crisis' during the 40th annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), 12 September 2015. The festival runs from 10 to 20 September. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Time and time again, high-profile women get asked sexist and stupid questions by reporters. The latest to experience that embarrassing reality was Sandra Bullock at the Toronto International Film Festival, where she was promoting her new film Our Brand Is Crisis.

Set to hit theatres Oct. 30, it’s the “fact-based story of American strategists hired to bolster an unpopular Bolivian presidential candidate” in which Bullock plays a retired political strategist who gets back in the game. Her role was originally intended for George Clooney, who produced the film.

“Sandy called and said she wanted to do the role that was originally developed for a man to do,” he told reporters.

“And once we realized that you could change it really easily, it made you realize that there are an awful lot of women’s roles that could be out there if people just started thinking in this way.”

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In 2014’s top 100 grossing films, women represented just 30 per cent of all speaking characters, 29 per cent of major characters, 12 per cent of protagonists, and 13 per cent of leaders onscreen. But that’s a whole other story.

Progressive thinking one would hope of someone in 2015 seemed to be lost on the poor reporter who just couldn’t get over the two-toned hair colour of Bullock’s hair in the film. It’s actually the first question that was asked at the TIFF press conference for the film over the weekend.

“It’s called root grow-out,” the star responded. “And all the women in this room know what that means.”

Clooney also chimed in: “Aren’t you glad you asked that question?”

Bullock also had to field a couple questions about her posterior.

READ MORE: George Clooney talks staying connected with wife Amal at ‘Our Brand Is Crisis’ TIFF premiere

Unfortunately, she wasn’t the first and likely won’t be the last woman to have to deal with this. Here’s a look at just a few of the others who have shut down ridiculous questions.

Scarlett Johannson is no stranger to sexist questions. While promoting the Avengers in 2012, her co-star Robert Downey Jr. was asked about his acting process; she, on the other hand, about her diet.

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“How come you get the really interesting existential question, and I get the, like, ‘rabbit food’ question?” she said to Downey Jr.

Johansson was also asked what she wore underneath her costume in the film.

That same reporter repeatedly badgered Anne Hatheway to reveal her eating and exercise habits while filming The Dark Knight Rises.

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“Are you trying to lose weight?” she asked Extra‘s Jerry Penacoli.

Former Blossom actress Mayim Bialik plays a neuroscientist on The Big Bang Theory, and also is one in real life. In 2013, while walking the SAG awards red carpet she had the following exchange:

“Being on The Big Bang Theory, how many people — not that you aren’t a genius — think that you can solve calculus at the drop of a hat?” one reporter asked.

“Ummm,” she responded. “I was actually trained in calculus. For several years. I’m a neuroscientist.”

It’s not just actresses. Last year, Elena Serova became the first Russian cosmonaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Yet the questions she was asked at a pre-launch news conference included: how she would “share secrets” with her daughter while in space, whether she was going to bring makeup with her, and her hair plans.

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She replied, “Why don’t you ask [fellow cosmonaut] Alexander about his hair?”

A female Lebanese TV host shut down an interview in March after a sheik told her to “shut up” and claimed talking to a woman was “beneath” him. Rima Karaki drew international praise and attention for her reaction.

Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits have been a topic that some people seem fixated on. In 2010, during an interview in Kyrgyzstan, after answering an audience member’s question about combatting sexism in the workplace, she was ironically asked by the moderator about her design preferences.

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“What designers of clothes?” Clinton asked. “Would you ever ask a man that question?”

“Probably not,” the moderator admitted.