Miss Representation: Girls are Pretty, Boys Are Powerful
Powerful Man Pretty Woman
Girls get the message that what’s important is how they look. And boys get the message that what’s important about girls is how they look. That’s one of the observations made in the film, Miss Representation.
Girls and boys both buy into this belief system. And then boys become men, step into power, and perpetuate a social order that favors them. Most CEOs are male, most of Congress is male, most publishers and editors are male, and we’ve never had a female President of the United States. Girls become women and go with the flow, too. Yes, there are many exceptions. But these large patterns remain.
Our world incessantly whispers – or shouts: women are more body than brain. Women are emotion, not rationality and action. Women are sex.
And sex sells, they say. Sex sells products. Sex sells the message that women are all about sex.
Now add demeaning and violent images.
The message: men are powerful, and better than women.
And when women try to move out of the box to gain power?
Well look what happens on conservative networks like Fox, where men dress conservatively while female anchors wear plunging necklines, short skirts, and say things like, “Hillary Clinton looked so haggard and, like what? 92 years old?!” Or Greta Van Susteren asks VP candidate, Sara Palin, whether she has gotten breast implants. When women aren’t co-conspiring, Rush Limbaugh complains that no one wants to see a woman age in office.
Even when women do become powerful a headline runs, “Condi Rice, Dominatrix.”
Perhaps alongside an ad for a nutcracker shaped as Hillary Clinton.
Any wonder 51% of Americans are women, but only 17% of Congress members are?
Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Miss Representation’s writer-director says this is unfortunate since research shows that:
The more diversity and more women you have in leadership, both in government and business, the greater the productivity, the creativity and the bottom line.
There’s this new transformative leadership that’s embracing empathy, collaboration, empowerment… those are more feminine qualities and those are now more associated with success in the global landscape than the traditional sort of command-and-control male leadership traits. So I think we’re going to start to see a shift.
Let’s stop misrepresenting women and their potential. We all lose out when the talents and vision of half our population are stifled. Women and girls are not less important than men and boys.
Newsom urges us to empower both young women and young men to create an equitable society together, making sure that girls are mentored and have a plenty of good role models.
And as Miss Representation points out:
The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.
— Alice Walker
Posted on November 21, 2011, in body image, feminism, gender, objectification, psychology, sexism, women and tagged body image, culture, feminism, gender, Miss Representation, objectification, pop culture, psychology, sexism, women. Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.