Week 15: MissRepresentation.
This week, I watched the important and groundbreaking documentary by Jennifer Siebel Newson called Miss Representation. I heard a lot of buzz last year when this film came out, but had forgotten about it until I was searching for a doc to watch this week on iTunes.
Watch the trailer below. No matter who you are or where you’re coming from, I believe that you will learn at least one small thing while watching it. Your perspective of the influence of media in the western world will undoubtedly expand, even a little bit.
Go on. I’ll wait the 2 minutes & 47 seconds…
Now that we’re comfortable with the subject matter, I’ll share a few key takeaways I learned from watching the doc (which you can find on iTunes here).
In writing this post, I’ve found myself writing and re-writing to make sure it isn’t too feminist, too pushy, or too blunt - but this is exactly why we need to watch docs like this and open our minds!
Women and men are different. They think differently, have different past experiences, and have different approaches to innovation and creating solutions to problems. Equal representation of men and women in power positions in the media and politics is critical to ensure we are making the best possible decisions and considering all necessary perspectives - this can only lead to society’s betterment.
Next, young people look up to people who are like them as role models. If we continue to allow a misrepresentation of women in these roles, the consequences are far reaching and irreversible. If a young woman looks to a board of directors and sees one woman and 16 men (as mentioned in the film), then she is likely to identify it as something for men only, and strive for something less powerful and influential. A young man, on the other hand, sees this and acts accordingly - treating women as if they shouldn’t naturally compose half the board - and that he should act as his male role models do.
And then there’s the influence of media images. Since women make up 80% of the purchasing power in the western world, media corporation create content that is geared towards attracting that 20% of men to purchase their product. The notion is that women will watch male-oriented content, but men will not watch female-oriented content. So male-oriented content packs double the punch; however, this isn’t necessarily even a proven idea. Shocking content is created, promoted, and blasted across all channels, content that degrades women, displays them as hyper-sexalized beings and never the protagonist or intellectual without being portrayed as an old maid. Men watch this, women watch this, and the cycle continues. People watch “reality” tv shows of women cat-fighting, gossiping, competing with each other… but consider that these shows are created and funded by men, with male viewers in mind… wow. Really makes you think.
I could continue, but I think that’s enough for now. I did take a moment to look back on my previous 52 in 52 blog posts, though… and of 15 weeks, only one author was a woman. In my reading list of 2011/2012, only 4 books were written by women - and 3 of those were the Hunger Games trilogy. Something to think about.
Watch the doc. Take a moment to reflect on your own life. What’s your role in this? How will we adjust for inequality?
And lastly - imagine you took all of that time you spent saying too fat, too thin, too round, too skinny, he, she, ugly, obsessing over looks and image… imagine if you took all that time, and put it towards something positive. Now image if we all did this. What a world we would live in…
Until next week,