Every time awards season comes around, feminists everywhere cringe internally knowing that at yet another televised event women will be marginalized and degraded while wearing thousand dollar custom gowns.
For years, women on the red carpet have been asked questions about their families and dresses whereas men are asked about their tireless preparation for their nominated roles, or what went into their jobs on set. These types of events uphold the patriarchal values in which Western society is rooted: women are objects, decorative pieces and family caretakers, while men are considered to be people, workers and breadwinners.
These are values that are damaging for all genders. The Oscars, as well as other red carpet events, are just further examples of the media promoting gender roles. While the objectification may be subtler than on raunchy sitcoms, it still sends a message to its viewers that women, no matter how well they are critically or commercially received, are still delicate pieces of decoration rather than entertainers to be commended.
This entire system was challenged at the 2015 Oscars, and women everywhere are still talking about it. While many inspirational speeches and messages were shared during the night, the hashtag #askhermore sparked a fire on social media that is still raging around the world. Reese Witherspoon, a frequenter of the red carpet and Oscar winner, promoted the hashtag created by the Representation Project to ensure women are being asked more than about their dresses, and it is a much needed change. At every red carpet event, from the Golden Globes to the People’s Choice Awards, women are asked the same questions about their dresses, their shoes, their hair and their bags.
When asked about #askhermore at the Oscars, Witherspoon said that #askhermore is a “movement to say we’re more than just our dresses… we’re here to talk about the work we’ve done.” Her firm stance received commendation from the hosts of the show, as well as from women across the world.
While #askhermore is a great step towards gender equality, it is only the first of many necessary to achieve it. According to multiple sources including Alice Vincent, writer for The Telegraph, since 2012, only 19 percent of non-acting Oscar nominations have been for women. The academy is 77 percent male and 94 percent white, leading many to question whether or not women, as well as other minorities, are being represented equally. This is unacceptable. There is no excuse for the blatant inequality within the academy and its nominees. This is yet another section of society in which white men have the majority of the power and respect, and hopefully the changes at this year’s red carpet will inspire change within the academy and beyond.