Watch Helen Mirren shut down the patriarchy in this incredibly sexist 1975 interview

Source: AP
Source: AP

Patriarchy got you down? Never fear — Helen Mirren is here.

In 1975, Mirren sat through what was quite possibly the most sexist interview of all time with British journalist Michael Parkinson. She has previously called the encounter "enraging," which is understandable — in it, she is forced to explain why her acting ability has nothing to do with her appearance. 

The interview is now over 40 years old, but we bring it to you today because feminist Facebook page Babe had the good sense to resurrect it on Saturday.

In the interview, Parkinson challenges Mirren's status as "in quotes, a serious actress." This after he introduced Mirren — now an Academy Award-winner — as the "sex queen" of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

"What do you mean, 'in quotes'?" Mirren asks. "How dare you?"

Source: Mic/YouTube

He goes on to ask whether or not she's found her "equipment" to be a hindrance to becoming a serious actress. Mirren asks Parkinson (who, we'll take this opportunity to note, was knighted in 2008) to please explain what he means by "equipment," and "in great detail." The visibly uncomfortable interviewer then explains that he was referring to her, ahem, "physical attributes."

"What do you mean, my fingers?" she counters. He did not mean that. He meant her "figure," he explains, looking at her breasts for emphasis.

"Serious actresses can't have big bosoms, is that what you mean?" Mirren presses.

Source: Mic/YouTube

That particular physical attribute on a woman, Parkinson suggests, "might detract from the performance," for, say, men like himself.

"I would hope that the performance, the play and the living relationship between all the people on stage and all the people in the audience would overcome such boring questions," Mirren shoots back. 

Boring indeed.

And that's why the lady is a dame. 

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Claire Lampen

Claire is a staff writer at Mic who covers women's issues and reproductive rights. She is based in New York and can be reached at claire@mic.com.

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