‘Miss Representation’ of Women in Media

By Brittney M. Walker

I attended a screening of independent film, “Miss Representation,” a dynamic documentary discussing the rash reality of female images in the media.

An award-winning production by director Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the movie interviews women and girls from all walks of life, to discover the truth about the influence media has on forming people’s ideas specifically about women.

Areas of focus included power, beauty, character, and intelligence. Each area somehow came back to the media’s portrayal of females and although there are those few totally empowered women who appear on camera, a heavier emphasis has been made on reducing women to a certain position, according to this film.

While we can point to more obvious examples like scantily clad women with extenuated assets and scandalous behavior, others like Sen. Hillary Clinton or Condoleezza Rice are seen as mad angry bitches who were granny panties and try to fill a man’s shoes.

The filmmaker made the point that when women in high positions are discussed on news programs, male and sometimes female pundits get away with degrading criticisms that have nothing to do with their performance, but have every intention to tear down their femininity or blame their vagina for disagreeable choices.

On top of those divisive arguments, women on a small scale or intimate level also subscribe to cattiness.

Looking at some of the arguments and fights in my family, I’ve seen the women tear each other down in each other’s faces and when the victim is unaware.

Take a trip back to high school, some of the toughest years for girls. These were the times I saw the most hellish behavior among girls. Fighting, gossiping, comparing, criticizing, plotting, backstabbing, and the whole basket of total uncoolness was a big part of battle for a lot girls.

As we grow, we hope those things would end. But it doesn’t.

Lately, the prime example of repulsive representation has been these reality shows. Now I can get on this band wagon real quick because these are my sistahs. I’ve watched these shows with a guilty conscious but eyes glued as not to miss a moment of drama. But it’s amazing grown ass women with money can allow themselves to act this way for a paycheck. Pulling weave, breaking bottles, contorting their faces, forgetting their not wild animals.

Evelyn Lozada actually made a public transformation after being the focus of heavy criticism for her representation as a woman and a woman of color acting beastly on camera. She told the world that after watching her children stare in awe at her glorified behavior, she knew things needed to change.

Good for her, but damn! You didn’t know you were hopping tables to slap the chick in a public place?

A heavy point I found myself pondering was that many (or most) images of women are either objectifying and submissive or are simply masked as empowering, but eventually show her submission to a man.

Some of the statistics were quite startling as well – 65 percent of women have eating disorders; only 16 percent of protagonists (in media) are women; women hold only 3 percent of clout positions in media, and the list goes on.

I’ve never been much of a feminist, but this flick certainly reminded me that as a Black woman, I have a few battles to deal with on a regular basis.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – President of Liberia

From reminding myself not to compare my image to those on television (even as an adult), to carefully decoding the B.S. mantra of men attempting to get what they want from me, being a woman requires a lot of work and brain power.

It’s as if women are forced to consciously push against this intricate system designed to control our sphere of success and movement.

Find out where you can see the film here.

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