Kit Steinkellner
October 23, 2014 9:04 am

This week, Jennifer Garner blew up the Internet after giving an amazingly funny and astute speech about Hollywood’s double standard during Elle’s annual “Women In Hollywood” event. On the podium, she took the press to task for the very different way they treat her versus her husband, Ben Affleck. Both are incredibly hard-working and prolific actors with big movies out. And both have recently been on whirlwind press tours for their movies (Jen’s promoting Men, Women and Children and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, while Ben’s been talking up Gone Girl). On a recent occasion, when the couple each respectively spent their day at junkets answering questions about their movies, they came home and compared notes. Garner said:

“[E]very single person who interviewed me, I mean every single one — and this is true of the red carpet here tonight, Elle — asked me, ‘How do you balance work and family?’ and he said the only thing that people asked him repeatedly was about the t–s on the ‘Blurred Lines’ girl [Affleck’s ‘Gone Girl’ co-star, Emily Ratajkowski],” She continued, “As for work-life balance, he said no one asked him about it that day. As a matter of fact, no one had ever asked him about it. And we do share the same family. Isn’t it time to kinda change that conversation?”

We were kind of blown away by this statement and we decided to take a look at the evidence ourselves. And in fact, it’s CRAZY how differently interviewers treat Garner versus Affleck. Garner’s constantly asked about the motherhood juggle, which is fine, but it’s almost like people forget about her work in the process. That’s not so much the case with Ben. Let’s roll the tape:

There’s this Good Morning America interview Garner recently took part in to promote Alexander, where she’s asked about the movie for about 48 seconds and them—BLAMO—she’s thrown the inevitable question about how she balances work and family:

And here she’s asked about monitoring her kids’ online activity for a junket on Men, Women and Children:

And here she is answering a question about her kids on the red carpet:

And here she is at a Q&A for Alexander answering a question about, you know, juggling work and motherhood:

Now let’s take a look at some of Affleck’s interviews.

There are plenty of questions about his process and his character in Gone Girl:

There was a gross question about the opening line of the movie where he says he wants to crack open his wife’s skull (ugh):

He’s also asked about his chemistry with his co-star Rosamund Pike:

And his penis, there’s a lot of talk about his full-frontal scene (double-ugh):

And Batman, a movie that’s not out for another two years, gets a lot of airtime:

To be fair, it’s not like people AREN’T asking Ben about family. (We found examples of that on some of the talk shows.) But it’s usually just an icebreaker question. To Affleck’s credit, he almost always takes the ball and runs with it, he clearly loves being a family man. The trouble is, being a mom and a wife is ALL Garner is asked about. It seems like if she does field a question about her film work, THAT’S the icebreaker question. The meat of the conversation is always her domestic life.

The discrepancies between the way an Affleck interview and a Garner interview are conducted is just weird any way you slice it. Despite being a talented actress in two very different movies, Jen’s most prominent role according to the media, and, ultimately, the public at large, is as a real-life mother. Meanwhile, Ben’s known, first and foremost, as an actor. Granted, he’s grilled plenty about his sexuality on camera, which is kind of objectifying and gross, but his performance is still at the core of his interviews.

Jen cut to the root of this double standard in her “Women in Hollywood” speech, when she said “The ‘men in Hollywood’ event is every day, it’s called Hollywood. Fifty-one per cent of the population should not have to schedule a special event to celebrate the fact that in an art that tells the story of what it means to be human and alive, we get to play a part.”

So true. If we’ve learned anything this week, it’s that women’s work is often a side note to what they’re wearing, how they look, who they’re dating and how they’re raising their kids. It’s time to change the conversation, starting with the questions we ask.

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