“As the most persuasive and pervasive force of communication in our culture, media is educating yet another generation that a woman's primary value lay in her youth, beauty and sexuality—and not in her capacity as a leader, making it difficult for women to obtain leadership positions and for girls to reach their full potential.” The above quote from the film says in a nutshell what Miss Representation is all about. While women’s rights have advanced since the early days of Gloria Steinem, the fact is that women are more often portrayed as beautiful objects instead of as intelligent, creative, skilled human beings. In Hollywood movies the lead female character is often an accessory to the male character. She frequently needs rescuing of some kind. If she is powerful and strong she will likely be wearing tight, revealing clothes (think catwoman, Elektra, Xena, many Angelina Jolie roles). How often are we shown, in movies, television, magazines, news stories, etc, women in positions of power who are likeable and wearing modest outfits? It is also not unusual for women in top political positions to be talked about in derogatory terms and to be asked personal questions that are not generally asked of men (i.e. How can you run for office when you have young children?). More often than not, when a woman is being discussed, her physical appearance will be described. Men are less likely to have their looks commented upon. The message received is that a man’s importance lies in his actions and position, while a woman’s importance depends on her outward appearance. Surprisingly, or not, much of the criticism aimed at women in authority comes from other women. The film makes the point that it will take all of us, men and women, older and younger, to change the popular perception of women as being either beautiful and dumb or intelligent, commanding and a rhymes-with-witch. Numerous women were interviewed for this film, including Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Rosario Dawson, Geena Davis, Dr. Jackson Katz, Dr. Jean Kilbourne, and Gloria Steinem. This documentary is similar in theme to the film America the Beautiful. Miss Representation could also be a good companion to the movie Iron Jawed Angels, a dramatization of the early 20th century fight to secure women’s right to vote. Miss Representation is a documentary written, directed and produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. A note of warning: This film contains many images of barely-clad women, some in explicit poses.
Jul 11, 2012