Hey there cyberspace explorers, diamondstoglass here. I recently had the opportunity to watch Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s documentary, Miss Representation. For those who are unfamiliar with this film, I would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in women’s rights or the cultural effects of the media. The gist of Miss Representation is that the media misrepresents women, and in doing so, makes a negative impact on women’s empowerment, careers, body image, and general self-perception.
Newsom uses a wide variety of evidence to back up her argument, including testimonials, case studies, figures, images, videos, montages, and statistics. She develops a strong argument against the objectification of women in Hollywood, which causes women to believe their worth comes from physical appearance and sexuality. One of my favorite insights was brought up in a statement that the female characters in G-rated movies often wear the same amount of revealing clothing as those in R-rated films.
It is sad that the supposed role models of the next female generation still have to gain their power through their bodies. Today’s unfortunate numbers display an overall lack of women in powerful roles within the media. Possibly as a result, women who are portrayed in the media are often weak characters, either dependent on men or on their sexuality in order to obtain any sort of upper hand. Newsom’s final argument in relation to this is that it is hard for women to be empowered and have female role models when they are never represented.
As a self-proclaimed career driven, independent women I had mixed feelings about this film. I loved it for the fact that it brought up topics and facts I have championed in my own life and that I wish more people were aware of. I was thankful that it dared to put this information out there for people to see and that it brought such real attention to the issues. However, not everything about this documentary was convincing, and sometimes I felt that all the numbers, facts, and images provided, were not balanced out enough with solutions. While there were certainly empowering moments throughout the film, there were times I felt it made the situation seem hopeless. I would really like to have seen less pictures of the ways women have been degraded in the media, and more of women who have made a change and are in power, as Newsom claims to argue for. To me, this would have worked more appropriately to back-up her solution. Then the documentary would have served more as an inspiration, instead of a PSA.
I believe powerful women in the media and equal representation are just about as awesome as this gif of Hermione punching Draco in the face. However, men are not to be directly blamed for the culture that has sprung up in today’s media. Yes, it is the perspective that dominates the media, but women also need to support other women if we ever hope to grow and change today’s media landscape. While it may be easy to look, judge, and put down others as a woman – this is part of what is getting us nowhere. Like Hermione, women need to take risks, stick their necks out, and stand up for our fellow femmes. There are many sides to this battle but if we stand upon each other’s shoulders we will find ourselves in much higher places than we ever will pointing fingers and calling blame. With the Point Five Project I hope to do just that. Here is an outlet that allows people to share their stories and read about the experiences of others. I hope that through education, powerful images, and distinctive statements, I can make a small change and spark awareness for empowered women AND men to come.
Until next time, stay terribly beautiful.