Posted by: oliviahildebrand10 | February 6, 2013

“Miss Representation” – Initiating Blog Post for 2/7

I had prepared to post about the “Miss Representation” documentary before Dr. Shollen announced that we’d be viewing it in class, but decided to go ahead and do it anyways rather than finding a new topic in hopes that it will spur a continued conversation about the issues that the film brings to light related to the media, it’s presentation of women, and how that impacts society. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch the trailer here:

The film talks about how the focus of women in media revolves mainly around their body, not their brain, intellectual capacity, or contribution to the world. With the media being so derogatory to the most powerful women in the country (take Palin or Clinton, for example), what does this say about society’s capability to take any other woman seriously? The media is indirectly producing insecure young women who place their value on their physical appearance and young men who believe that being a man means being powerful and in control. With American teenagers spending thirty plus hours a week watching television alone, the media has quickly become one of the biggest facets of socialization in the U.S. The media is delivering content that is essentially shaping our society, politics, and conversations, and it is not really in women’s favor.

What do you guys think? We began this conversation during Monday’s class about the purpose and the goals of the media. I’m in the camp that votes for innovative networking that challenges what has become the norm, but how do we go about that and is it even possible? The film suggests that women need to start writing their own stories and using the media as a direct instrument of change. Do you see this happening in our lifetime?


  1. Until watching the first half of this movie in class, the images of women have never registered in my mind as controversial. Especially in regards to news castors. It has never registered that women reporters are presented as sexual. Yes, I have noticed the hair, makeup and apparel but I thought this was considered normal.
    That mindset and perception….is the problem.
    Media has molded me and the rest of society to accept this type of appearance from women.
    As a student athlete, I have to deal with this double standard of image. We are expected to be athletic and preform to the best of our ability while maintaining a feminine body. Most of my team puts their focus on the perfect body instead of an athletic body. Victoria Secret models do have that nice sexual appeal, but do not have the body type to perform at the capacity we do. So where is there balance?
    I think there needs to be a stand and an effort by all women to maintain that level of respectability when being the face of television. Female news castors especially need to resort back to the days of modesty and professionalism to set the standard for women for the many girls that look up to them.

  2. I think that media mimics ideas that are already present in society, and exaggerates them to make them profitable. Therefore I think it is the job of individuals to manipulate the media. The media will sell whatever is the most profitable and as long as the current images are most profitable they will keeping selling them. However, I do think that media helps to shape individuals’ minds and perceptions. In other words the media impacts individuals’ thoughts just as much as individuals’ thoughts impact the media.
    Having said that, though this seems like a chicken and egg argument, I still believe it is up to individuals to change the media.
    For example, taking an individual step to spend less money on beauty products will contribute to the devaluation of beauty products. Companies produce what sells, and if beauty products are selling then they will continue to be produced in mass. Furthermore, if the industries with the most money are the ones with the most media coverage, and if the companies that sell the most products have the most money, then by contributing to the consumption of beauty products you are contributing to the production of beauty product media.
    Our society is capitalistic, we cannot live outside the market. Therefore it is our jobs as individuals to shape the market.

  3. Women can make a change. However, it has to be a collaborative effort between all the women in media. Newer, maybe even younger, people need to be asked to step in, because continuing to use the people currently in charge is just going to hinder women’s progress toward such a great change. New ideas and new messages need to be part of that change, so innovative workers would be the first step.

    But your most important question, I think, is whether this can happen in our lifetime. Sadly, I don’t believe so. Our generation might be the stepping stone to necessary changes, but we will not reap the benefits. We are here to realize what the problems are, and try to fix them for the next group to step up and be rewarded for their merits not their looks.

  4. I doubt this could happen within our lifetimes unless something REALLY changes. I was watching E! News this morning and listening to the hosts talk about the Grammy’s. The male host pulled out a notecard that had a message from the Grammy’s themselves, saying that all attending should not wear see-through things or show too much of breasts, butt, leg, etc. The female host (who was wearing a very short skirt) scoffed at those “rules” and stated that she hoped starlets in particular would “break the rules”. Just the fact that the Grammy’s felt a need to put out a statement like that at all is sad enough but the fact that the female host was the one hoping that starlets would dress scantily was even worse. I am all for people wearing what they want to but wearing something that hardly covers your body for mere shock factor is not going to aid the women who are fighting hard for their positions in politics, the workplace, etc. Also unfortunate, it is true that people are exposed to the media and much of it is made up by these actresses/singers who set the example by trying to shock. Sorry that I sound like a grandma but it’s true!

  5. I think if women were to start using media to their advantage rather than exploiting women as the media generally does now, we would be able to change the basic ways of thought in younger generations. Now these young kids would still be greatly influenced by their peers and parents but we could make the kids question the stereotype and maybe influence them to think for themselves rather then to simply accept what they are being told about women. I think this could happen at any time. As soon as women realize the tools they have and how to effectively use them, we can begin to make real societal changes. This being, bringing new points to light such as the fact that women are statistically better leaders in most catagories and other similar facts. We can begin to portray women as more than mere looks and high heels and instead as intelligent beings who are more than capable of performing on the same level if not higher as a man if she so desires.

  6. “With the media being so derogatory to the most powerful women in the country (take Palin or Clinton, for example), what does this say about society’s capability to take any other woman seriously?” You make a good point here. If we can’t take women in positions of power for our country seriously, how are we going to take a local leader in our town seriously. If we are always judging women on their appearance then how are we going to look past and see the substance a women can bring to a leadership position. Although this could be looked at from a woman’s perspective of a man also. As a fellow classmate and I were watching the film there was an attractive governor speaking and we both noticed his appearance first even though he did make very valid points. Appearance in general is hindering our ability to take people seriously.

  7. There is definitely a gross misrepresentation of women as a whole in the media. They focus on a very small percentage of women that hold this ideal body type, and don’t reflect the rest of the female population well, if at all. However, I think the thing to remember is that the viewers are the ones in charge of what the media puts out. We control what they show, because we are the ones who will either watch it, or not. The media plays to what its viewers want, and we are more than willing to go along with the way they do things today.

    If we ever want to see a change in the media, it has to come from the viewers first. The media is not plotting ways to degrade women (although it does happen as a by product), they are making smart business decisions to make their companies the most money or produce the most success for themselves based off of what we will buy into. Our society is responsible for this, not the media. They do not exist to promote social change, they exist to provide entertainment, and as the entertainees, we are the ones dictating the media’s direction and goals. The problem with the way the media portrays women today is that we are the ones eating it all up. The media will only change what they do when we stop buying into it.

  8. I think women have came a long way. it is crazy to think that just a hundred years ago women could not even vote. I think that once our generation who I consider to be moderately open to having women in these higher roles has had children that their generation will be even more open to the idea. I think it takes time to happen. Although I do believe it possible for women to gain more professional power there will always be some women viewed as sex tools because men will always have sexual fantasies about “hot” women. In closing we can change how women are treated and viewed professionally but it is impossible to eliminate them as sex icons.

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