I finally got to see Miss Representation last night, courtesy of a local event for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Released in late 2011, it’s a film exploring the role of women in our society and what we can do to change the disparities that exist.
It’s easy to hear about such a film and say, “But so much progress has been made!” While this is true, and yes, progress continue to be made, it’s slowed down more than you think. I’m not always one to tout statistics, but some of the figures they’ve researched are quite startling. For example:
- The average teenager consumes roughly 10 hours, 45 minutes of media per day, between television, movies, the internet, and music, the majority of which is TV watching.
- Of that media consumed, women own less than 6% of TV stations and roughly 6% of radio stations. The board members of the biggest media companies (such as Viacom, Time Warner, etc) systematically outnumber women by more than 2-1, so most of the media being produced and approved is from rich men.
- Women make up 51% of our population at present, but are only 17% of Congress (even I was surprised by how low that number is).
Mad yet? You should be.
The film goes on to interview prominent women, from Katie Couric to Nancy Pelosi and Rachel Maddow to Condaleeza Rice, to share their perspectives ‘from the top.’ And it would seem that, despite their respective accomplishments and success, the view ain’t pretty. Maddow discusses the hate mail she receives, some over the fact that she’s a woman and some over her sexuality. Rice shares unsurprising but still disappointing stories about often being the only woman in the room during important meetings during the Bush Administration.
For those of you who are well versed in feminism and women’s studies, Miss Representation might not present a whole lot of information you don’t already know aside from the personal testimonies of some of the individuals featured. But what this film does, it does well, which is bring these topics out of the classroom and into the real world with input from mainstream public figures. This documentary hits the ground running with a fluid narrative that touches on a variety of subjects while staying on its message.
Other films, such as America the Beautiful, go a little bit more in depth in their dissection of the current culture surrounding body image and how we regard women. But, if America the Beautiful is a meticulous analysis of that culture, Miss Representation is a call to arms against it and the patriarchy which created and reinforces all the problems brought up, both for those of us living it now but especially for the rising generation.
For screening schedules and more information, check the main website at http://www.missrepresentation.org/, and check out the trailer below.