Olivia Wilde was a recent guest on the web series, Watch What Happens: Live, hosted by Andy Cohen. She participated in a game, Plead the Fifth,where guests are presented with three questions, usually personal in nature, where they have one opportunity to ‘plead the fifth,’ and not answer the question they think is too private to answer. Wilde’s questions follow the usual pattern that the show follows in regards to a young, attractive females: they are markedly sexual in nature. Surprisingly, the questions came from Wilde’s own fiancé; “What’s the wildest place you’ve ever done the deed?” and “Have you ever dipped into the lady pond in real life?” were the questions aimed to make Wilde squirm. The term “lady pond” used regarding the question of lesbianism is childish and a seemingly non-confrontational way of demanding an answer to an intensely personal, and from Wilde’s reaction, unwanted question. Unsurprisingly, this series, along with so many others, carries an faintly misogynistic air. Females are asked personal questions, seemingly for the host’s and audience members’ thrill of being privy to this private information.
Male guests being interviewed are not subjected to directly personal questions as such; when personal questions arise, the atmosphere is congratulatory, and not as prying when compared to their female counterparts. Actor Taylor Kinney and host Cohen discussed their ‘wildest’ Halloween costumes in a separate interview; the word ‘wild’ in the title of the web episode, one may think that this man will be asked to regale the audience with an anecdote of some sexual experience. The ‘wild’ aspect of the episode was Cohen and Kinney describing Batman and pumpkin costumes. Similarly, John Stamos’ title of the video reads “John Stamos on orgasms, Dating Paula Abdul and Rejection.” One would think that he was going to be pressed to answer personal questions about his sexuality, but the question asked was how many orgasms has he given to a female have in one night. Women are subjected to invasive questions that seem to produce a sexual thrill from the host and the audience, especially judging from the two men’s expressions that were onscreen with Wilde when she was asked if she had ever participated in lesbianism. Understandably, a male host asking a male guest about his own personal sexual enjoyment may be awkward, but the disparity of the invasiveness of questioning when dealing with females over males is apparent and unfair.
Other women participating with the series have been subjected to the same uncomfortable questions. Lindsay Lohan was asked why she never wears bras, and was told by Cohen, “… it looks like you have beautiful boobs, by the way.” Lohan awkwardly gives a half-hearted chuckle and nod after Cohen’s statement. The only question that pushed Lohan to stop the polite and light-hearted facade, and refused to answer a question is when her personal information was given to the media without her consent. A list of her rumoured list of her sexual conquests was released, and Lohan says this list was made as a step in an AA program she had attended, and refused to answer any questions regarding it. There is a line for what is deemed going ‘too far’ for some female celebrities; the personal questions being asked to many women seem to be in the same realm of Lohan’s personal violation, only the information is given voluntarily, albeit many times reluctantly, by the women themselves.
Actress Lea Michele was asked, in front of her father, how her ex-boyfriend and cast mate of Glee, Matthew Morrison was in bed in a separate interview. Michele embarrassingly laughs and ‘pleads the fifth’ for the question. It seems like more actresses should demand better treatment and respect for their personal lives. The questions are being asked by Andy Cohen, and by many other people like him, but it seems as though society should encourage women to stand up and say they are not comfortable answering the question, or in a utopian society, for that question to have not been asked at all.