Miss Representation: A feminist look at women in the media

Radford University’s showing of “Miss Representation” was sponsored by the Women’s Studies Club and Mu Sigma Upsilon’s TIARA group.

The movie is about the way women are portrayed in modern media while raising awareness of the issue.

Women have grown more powerful since 1920. Photo from Howstuffworks.com.

“Miss Representation” pointed out a few things that many people who attended the viewing didn’t know, such as the fact that only 19 percent of the current American Congress is comprised of female members. The movie explored the role of women in fiction: most “chick flicks” focus on the female acquisition of a man, while action movies or legal thrillers (which often highlight male stars) allow their protagonists to be actual people rather than sexual objects or rewards.

“People learn more from media than from any other single source of information,” said Dr. Jackson Katz, author of the critically-acclaimed anti-violence novel  “The Macho Paradox.” “So if we want to understand what’s going on in our society… we have to understand media.”

The movie proves the fact that although women have grown more powerful since 1920 (when the 19th Amendment was passed, granting women the right to vote), many women, particularly in modern media, are not taken seriously. Various newspaper clippings degrade women based on their looks, one of which equates Condoleezza Rice with a dominatrix.

Various news clips were shown where reporters asked female politicians intrusive questions about plastic surgery and breast augmentation. Women of all creeds, political alliances and religions were degraded at various points. According to the film, 2010 was the last time Congresswomen were able to make political gains in Washington.

Though the linked article is clearly satiric in nature, the fact that such tripe can be considered funny by the American people proves that we have quite a way to go.

Five male audience members attended the screening. Two left before the discussion portion began. The other ten were all women. Audience reactions were varied; some, particularly the guys, were shocked and disgusted by what they saw. Many simply acted like these new facts were utterly unsurprising, though disgusting nonetheless.

The purpose of the showing – to raise awareness for the issue of women’s portrayal in the media – was only half accomplished. There’s still much work to be done.