The Depiction of Gender Discrimination in the Film 'Miss Representation'

Wells-Barnett, the journalist who fought sexism and segregation. Marie Skłodowska-Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel prize in 1903 for her work in physics, Bandaranaike, the first woman to be elected head of government. All strong, intelligent, loving, capable, significant, leaders. The top hottest newscasters in America. Top Sexiest Female Politicians. Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice-presidential candidate, size 6. All irrational, crazy, dumb, emotional, incapable, useless, objects. The disempowering and sexualised representations of women in today’s society have the ability to impact a woman’s life choices and capability of achieving success. This is Miss Representation summary paper with the help of which we will analyse the curent problem of sexism and gender discrimination. 

The film Miss Representation is a stellar documentary that focus on the example that have helped to maintain a system of patriarchy all over the world. A pre-title sequence sets out the central thesis of “Miss Representation”– that the sexual objectification of women onscreen leads to a trivialization and disempowerment of women in the cultural and political process. “Miss Representation” spent a great deal of time focusing on the issue of young girls finding their self-worth in physical appearance, based on what the media defines as beauty. In my point of view, The key slogan for Miss Representation is “you can’t be what you can’t see,” meant to drive home the fact that girls cannot become successful, self-assured, empowered and civically engaged if they do not see women who embody these traits on television, in the movies, and in the pages of magazines. It is a powerful message. But again, Newsom seems to commit the very sin of which she hopes to rid the world. Who don’t we see in Miss Representation? Women with disabilities, for starters, whose large-scale exclusion by the mainstream media contributes greatly to the discrimination they experience every day, as their abilities and intelligence are routinely under-estimated or outright dismissed.

Director of the documentary Miss Representation, Jennifer Siebel Newsom stated: “If the media is sending girls the message that their value lies in their image, this can only leave them feeling disempowered and distract them from making a difference and becoming leaders.” Today, many people believe that a women’s worth lies in her looks, despite her achievements and aspirations for the future. The documentary Miss Representation displays the objectified, disempowering, and sexualised image of women in modern culture. Girls are called irrational, emotional and crazy daily for expressing their thoughts and opinions with others, yet we do not question it. If we don’t address this issue now nothing will change, and girls and women are going to continue believing that unless they have the body and face of a supermodel, and that they can be taken seriously for using their intelligence, there is nothing in their future that is beneficial.

How can this be? How can girls continue to live in a world where they hear that no matter what they achieve, their value will always depend on their image? What a girl needs to hear, is that she can become a leader, a chemical engineer, a lawyer, a surgeon, an international speaker or activist, anything. She can. This is empowering as it shows women excelling in their chosen field, and isn’t deconstructing what a women’s body looks like. Unfortunately, the media is a source of harmful and disempowering messages and images which are exposed to women from an early age, displayed in the documentary Miss Representation. Girls learn that what’s most important about themselves is how they look and having a boyfriend. When a girl or woman has this mindset, they obsess over their appearance and will most likely experience self-doubt. This obsession with perfection can lead to serious health and mental issues. 65% of women and girls have an eating disorder, 17% of teens engage in cutting and self- injurious behaviour, and depression among girls and women has doubled in the last 10 years. This is overly concerning, but does it come as much of a surprise? Additionally, by men and boys growing up in this modern culture where women are inappropriately advertised and represented, they learn to refer to women as sexual objects and do not take into account their intelligence. Its all about the body and not about the brain. At this rate, women may not achieve parity for 500 years.

04 August 2023
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