Miss Representation

The documentary “Miss Representation” was about the depiction of women in the media and its effect on women in power, specifically in government. One central claim made by the documentary is that the portrayal of women in the media has gotten worse over time. In old movies, women characters were more intriguing, and they were very multifaceted. Today, women serve as simply eye candy and rarely have complexity to their character. Sometimes women appear to be empowered in films or TV, but in most of those cases, it’s not about their agency; they are still objectified and exist for the male viewer.  Another central claim made by the documentary is that the more power women obtain, the more backlash they receive. For instance, female journalists are objectified and sexualized. When Katie Couric joined ABC news, she was constantly judged on her physicality and her clothes. Women in government are also scrutinized for the way they look. They are twice as likely to be reported as more emotional than men, and a lot of reports discuss their physical appearance and style.  Felicity Paxton had one critique of the movie that I found interesting. She did not like that the movie began and ended with a woman talking about her child. This woman was about to have a baby girl, and she was afraid what the girl would have to go through in this world. Paxton did not like that motherhood and birth was tied into the film, and she thought that the woman’s concerns should be the same if she had a boy. In other words, the message should be that all children are being born into a world of stereotypes about women and men, and children are constantly being exposed to them through the media. I found her claim interesting because it made me think of whether that story would have been included at all had the child been a boy. I actually believe the story would have been more powerful if it had been a boy because it illustrates that everyone in the world is exposed to the media, and we should fear what this exposure does to boys as well as girls. Felicity Paxton also claimed that in college, women make up 60% of the student population, but as education progresses from college (graduate school, law school, PhD, medical school, etc.) less and less women can be found. The same also applied to teachers—there are more women teachers in elementary schools and fewer women professors than men. Both this documentary and “Killing Us Softly” mention how the media creates this ideal woman that no one can live up to and that advertisements often portray women as objects. I was wondering if anyone thinks that this might impact women’s self-esteem and deter them from achieving their full potential in education. Is this correlation simply not strong enough? Also, are there other factors that could be attributing to the decrease of women in higher education?

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