Miss Representation is a documentary devoted to the complex topic of female image and function as presented by media. Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the director, emphasizes the fact that women nowadays accept objectification as a part of their social position and generally do not even try to struggle against such a humiliating perception of their bodies. This presentation partially accounts for the fact that so few women could be found in prominent positions of power and influence in the USA.
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In fact, I cannot say that Miss Representation is a unique feminist masterpiece as it does not tell the viewer anything new on the topic. Its message can be deduced by any intelligent person without watching documentaries: women are depicted as sex objects both on television and in cinematography. Besides, they aggravate the effect by accepting this role. Trivialization in the media deprives women of social respect, which makes it almost impossible for them to build a successful career, especially in politics, where reputation is an issue of paramount importance. To my mind, one of the most interesting points Miss Representation has is the analysis of women who achieved high positions despite the societal pressure.
Although the movie offers statistical data to support its ideas, it is still rather generic. However, for me, it was a useful refreshing material in feminism. It reminded me that no matter how much women have already advanced in their struggle for equality, they still stand lower than men in the social hierarchy for a whole number of historical and political reasons.
It was an incentive for me to reconsider how much I am influenced by the media in terms of gender role shaping. I am not a proponent of TV mentality, but I acknowledge that it still has an impact on my vision. To my mind, both men and women are subjected to biasing and have to meet certain requirements if they want to be successful and popular. For instance, women are expected to be sex-appealing, silly, always good-spirited, bitchy, and family-oriented at the same time. Men must be sportive, active, enthusiastic, career-oriented, and financially independent. Otherwise, they are perceived as losers or nerds.
Thus, hyper-sexualized images promoted by mass media harm not only women but also men. However, it is rather understandable why they are used for commercial purposes. Practically all businesses exploit this as a purely psychological phenomenon: people are ready to buy anything from clothes to cars and houses if they feel that it can make them young, beautiful, sexy, sportive, and successful – exactly like those people they see in commercials. That is why, on the one hand, we can say that huge enterprises hold responsibility for the misrepresentation of women, but on the other hand, it is the society that accepts the standards of beauty and creates the demand.
This brings us to the idea that every community needs role models in order to pursue some moral or physical ideals. Katie Couric, for example, has always had a role model, Gloria Steinem, a women’s rights advocate and also an outstanding journalist. It is evident that it preconditioned her future career. Thus, having mentors and role models is not obligatory, but if you do have them, it simplifies the process of identifying what steps you should take in order to reach your long-run objective. It is especially relevant for women as they are often brought up with the idea that their only mission is to give birth to kids and keep their family hearth. If they decide to opt for a career, they are often severely criticized. This necessitates the need for support and mentorship.
Here it is worth mentioning that the entire feminist movement emerged as an attempt to encourage those who decided to reject the role of a housewife. However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. To my mind, feminists now have gone too far. It is reasonable to protect your rights, but it is nonsense to demand from the government to eliminate some language elements which seem to be sexist. For instance, the feminist claim to change the word “history” for “herstory” seems to be a silly joke to me. Therefore, I think that if you want to adhere to this movement, you should understand that every good idea in its utmost form turns out to be absurd.
I strongly believe that feminists should not forget that falling into extremes, they start discriminating modern men, who actually did nothing to deprive them of their rights. Besides, such women should bear in mind that men also suffer from the pressure of the model they must correspond to. Ideal men seek for ideal women, which makes a normal relationship impossible as both sides have unreal expectations.
Besides the factors that I have already mentioned (financial stability, physical fitness, and success both in career and with women), you can read and hear everywhere that a man must be strong and enduring. It results in emotional constrains as boys and men cannot express their feelings without being called saps or other humiliating names. No one really wants to admit that all people need to express emotions to be psychologically stable.
Thus, I believe that if we want to exist in a normal society, we should respect other people’s needs and problems. If you are a woman, you should decide whether you want to be weak and protected by a strong and decisive male, or you want to have equal rights and equal obligations as men. You cannot do both. The same rule works for men who do not want to adhere to a traditional image of a hunter and a breadwinner. We are always responsible for our choices.