As part of our studies on the History of Feminism and Women’s Rights, today our class is watching a film called Miss Representation.
The synopsis of the film from the film’s website:
Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Miss Representation exposes how mainstream media and culture contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America.
The film draws back a curtain to reveal a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see – how the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls makes it difficult for women to feel powerful and achieve leadership positions.
In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message we receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 33rd out of the 49 highest income countries when it comes to women in the national legislature. And it’s not better outside of government. Women make up only 4.6% of S&P 500 CEOs and 17% of directors, executive producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.
Stories from teenage girls and provocative interviews with politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists, and academics, like Katie Couric, Rosario Dawson, Gloria Steinem, Margaret Cho, Condoleezza Rice, Rachel Maddow, and Nancy Pelosi, build momentum as Miss Representation accumulates startling facts and statistics that will leave the audience shaken, but armed with a new perspective.
Miss Representation is available to watch on Netflix. I encourage you all to watch the film yourselves, or with your child. Whether or not you are able to watch the film, it would certainly be interesting to have a conversation with your adolescent about it. Ask them what they saw, what they learned, how it connects to their studies, and how it changes how they view the media.
As always, let me know if you have any questions.