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Derry Girls star Jamie-Lee O’Donnell called out a sexist line of questioning — but it speaks to a much wider issue


By Sarah Gill
17th Apr 2022

Derry Girls

Derry Girls star Jamie-Lee O’Donnell called out a sexist line of questioning — but it speaks to a much wider issue

When asked about her age in an appearance on the Late Late Show, the actress was quick to call out the misogynistic double standards at play.

Following the premiere of the show’s final season, Derry Girls star Jamie-Lee O’Donnell joined Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late and showed that she’s every bit as fiery as the boisterous Michelle she plays onscreen.

“This may be a rude question,” Tubridy began carefully, “and you don’t have to answer it — but can I ask you how old you are?” Initially laughing it off with a witty quip, when pushed, O’Donnell decided to call out the question for what it was; a prime example of subtly sexist double standards.

“The thing about that that gets on my nerves a wee bit — no disrespect — it’s always quite misogynistic. Even if it’s not intentionally misogynistic, because men don’t get the same scrutiny in their career.”

The Late Late presenter, floundering, was quick to assure her that he would have asked the same question of a male guest, and we’re just going to have to take his word for it on that one.

Tubridy also tried to clarify that the question was innocuous, asked in an attempt to tee up a compliment for her seamless portrayal of a teenager in Lisa McGee’s hit Channel 4 show. He then rushed to steer the interview out of hot water with a swift topic change. If the question was supposed to be harmless, why approach it with a disclaimer that O’Donnell might find it rude?

Fair enough, to Ryan Tubridy, it might just have been an innocent question that he didn’t give a second thought to. However, it shines a light on the many almost imperceptible ways that women are treated differently to men.

While many have expressed their outrage online at the false assumption that this was effectively O’Donnell branding Tubridy a misogynist, that is absolutely not what happened. The actress was simply speaking to the wider culture that allows for greater scrutiny of women than their male counterparts.

Male talk show hosts have long been associated with a misogynistic line of questioning when interviewing female celebrities. From asking obnoxious, patronising questions to making blatant sexist remarks during broadcasts, the onus has seemingly been on the guest to admonish such behaviours.

Back in 1994, Madonna let David Letterman know that he was a “sick f*ck” after her introduction was rounded off with a distasteful comment about the singer having ‘slept with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry’.

More recently, in 2015, Ariana Grande let two male radio presenters know that they “need a little brushing up on equality” when asked which she couldn’t live without; her phone or makeup. Later, when asked what she wished to change, the singer responded, “Double standards, misogyny, racism, sexism. We have work to do, and we’ll start with you.”

It shouldn’t be quite so difficult to refrain from insulting a guest during a quick interview, but here we are. While I’m sure Ryan Rubridy meant well, the Late Late Show exchange is just another reminder of how women and men are held to different standards.