Women are important members of society because of their talents, qualities, and aspirations, as well as their participation in social events that serve all. Many of these factors have contributed to their international acclaim. They are, still, being misrepresented in the mainstream. Miss Representation is a well-known American documentary film made by Jennifer Newsom in 2011 that shows how women are under-represented in the mass media. The film depicts how culture perceives women based on media portrayals. Therefore, this paper will discuss how the Miss Representation film illustrates how the media undermines the image of women in society.
Representation of Women in Media
The film began with a scene where a character named Newsom is pregnant with her first daughter Montana. She wants her appearance to match perfectly with the look of her deceased sister who was having an eating disorder and also experienced emotional, sexual assaults (Newsom 34). Her late sister was further told explicitly to lie about her age, modify her appearance and also to remove some of her critical academic credentials from her resume in case she feels that her looking is what matters than anything else. Media is considered as the reflection of the society and therefore, it is an indication that the appearance of a woman is more important than anything else in the society. Women would be valued by the society based on their physical look rather than their substance accomplishments as they do with their counterparts.
Exploitation of Women for Profit
The film also shows how women are used in the media as money making tools. Due to deregulation of the TV programs, there has been minimal oversight of what is being presented to the consumers. It has provided an opportunity for the media to utilize their powers and freedom to captivate viewers and to earn more revenues using dubious means (Brinkman et al. 434). The media owners have embarked on misrepresenting women as they display in a hypersexual manner to attract more viewers in their commercial adverts. It is an indication that they are willing to offer the dignity of women as a sacrifice to attain more profits. It has made women to lack much respect in the society as compared to men.
Stereotypical Portrayal of Men
Media portrays male gender in different ways. Some support fact that a man can only be considered to be a "real" gentleman by the society when he is an individual who is willing and ready to offer assistance to needy women. A gentleman should also be one who has control over the situations that goes around him and also financially independent (Newsom 48). However, some media channels choose to portray the characters of a man as someone who is aggressive and violent in the society. It makes the growing young men who normally watch such programs to learn that a man should have aggressive behavior and be prepared to be above women. Women being weaker sex in the society, they would feel intimidated by the destructive masculine images.
Women as Victims
The film also indicates that females are the victims of all evils that can happen to humankind as they experience all forms of abuses. Women are not given equal opportunities that are granted to their counterparts as most of the civil societies are established for the sole purpose of fighting for the rights of women across the world (Newsom 67). It supported by the facts that female characters in most movies are always the victims of reproductive health, domestic violence and also sexual harassment. It poses some challenges in the society as men are influenced to believe that it is not inappropriate to abuse women.
Gender Bias in Education
In schools, the male students are demonstrated as people who are more superior to their counterparts when it comes to the choice of subjects and careers. It is believed that the mental capability of men is much higher than those of females as shown in most film plays (Newsom 79). Teachers are advising female learners to venture into technical subjects that are overwhelmingly being done by males for them to gain equality in the society. It is an indication that women are weak in terms of their intelligence and strength which would only make them comfortable to do soft courses such as humanities and languages that do not require much thinking and physical effort.
Stereotypes in Leadership
In the media, men are portrayed as people who have the art of controlling their emotions and also have strong personalities that can lead others. It is shown that men have the capability of solving problems by searching for effective solutions (Brinkman et al. 434). Contrary, women are displayed in the media as people who are weak emotionally and can easily be influenced by their feelings which might cause a crisis. It is due to this reasons; the society has been questioning the possibility of a woman to lead people and men have taken advantage of that to claim that leadership positions are for them and the work of women is to be followers.
Miss Representation provides clear reflections of how the media is becoming a tool of destroying women. The media portrays the definition of manhood as one that is willing to intimidate and abuse women. Further, the value of women in the society is being based on their physical appearance, and the media owners would not hesitate to make profits the look of women. Thus, Miss Representation forms the basis of examining how the media are tarnishing the reputation of women in the society.
As the civil societies are working hard daily to ensure that there is equality in all genders, the media is well determined to ruin all the milestones that they are gaining. Miss Representation film plays perfect scenes that are showing how the media is performing its destructive female roles in society. Women in the media are being turned into money making machines where they are forced to alter their natural appearance to be attracting more viewers in commercial programs. It lowers the dignity of a female as they are equated to equipment that can be used to achieve the selfish interest of other people. Women are shown as people who can easily be influenced by men as they are easily manipulated to perform certain acts that they might regret later in the media contents. They are also intimidated by the aggressive and violent nature of men that makes them submissive. The media also represents women as the primary target of human abuses as men are portrayed as creatures that might be willing to seize any opportunity to dehumanize their counterparts. In the learning institutions, the male students are perceived to be more powerful as they can be able to handle the technical courses as females are left with soft subjects that match their cognitive incapability. Most media contents that are associated with leadership themes always shows men as people who can control their emotions to make effective decisions, and they also use women in the same context to indicate a leader that is consumed with her feelings to the extent of causing a crisis in her decisions. In conclusion, Miss Representation is a good example of films that bear evidence that media is an evil monster behind women predicaments in the society.
Brinkman, Britney G., and Allison Jedinak. "Exploration of a Feminist Icon: Wonder Woman's Influence on US Media." Sex Roles 70.9-10 (2014): 434.
Newsom, Jennifer Siebel. Miss representation curriculum. Roco Films Educational, 2011.