The Magic Lantern recently screened the documentary “Miss Representation” as part of Get Lit! week. It is a film that explores the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America, and challenges the media’s limited portrayal of what it means to be a powerful woman.
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The theater audience was composed of prominent northwest business owners, artists, scholars, and students alike, anticipating this widely acclaimed film, which spotlights media’s limiting and derogatory attitude toward women. The film’s all star cast included Katie Couric, Geena Davis, Dianne Feinstein, Margaret Cho, Cory Booker and Jane Fonda to name a few. Actors, feminists and media representatives in agreement with the film’s theme – “Girls are seen as objects and learn to see themselves as objects, lowering their ambitions and confidence making it unlikely they will run for office or vote”. The more distracted girls and women are with their bodies, the less time they will have to become leaders. Women hesitate about women in leader roles. Why? What is it we discount about the ones who step up to the plate?
Clips from movies, magazines and commercials with women in demur positions, canting submissively were shown. Men, in these same clips were placed in positions of power and dominance over the women. Images displaying women as weak, helpless, submissive and as sexual objects consciously and unconsciously, brainwash society into normalizing them, desensitizing us to their shocking content. Comments were made about these kind of media attacks on women by men, women and young girls trying to diminish the power of such images by showing their ridiculousness. And where seeing these individuals speak out against the implications of such images gives way to momentum to make changes, the imagery of women being represented as objects is nothing new.
The film “Miss Representation” ends with a lot of advice, most of which is very hopeful. Some of it, however, feels a little too lofty in nature like placing a damn in the ocean. One way the film indicates that we can fight back is to hurt the media moguls by boycotting their films, refusing to buy their magazines and writing to their endorsement companies about our outrage, but we will need to do more than this if we ever hope to change the tide. Society must learn to value women for more than their youth and beauty. We must also teach children to see these images for what they are: a way to devalue women as human beings, to keep them from aspiring toward higher positions and from seeking success within those roles. “Miss Representation” should be shown in schools everywhere and viewed by everyone at least once.