Think of the last movie you saw (other than maybe The Hunger Games) or TV show you watched. What kind of role did the lead female character have? Was she the girlfriend? The wife? The mom? The damsel in distress? A housewife or maid? It’s kind of annoying, isn’t it?
A new film, Miss Representation, is trying to shed light on that fact and stop it from staying the norm, because it’s hurting the way we perceive ourselves, our futures, our options, and each other. As one supporter of the film put it, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” If women aren’t represented on TV and in movies in powerful leadership positions, it may get ingrained in our minds–even if we don’t realize it right away–that all we have to offer rests on our looks or sexuality. Being fed that message constantly prevents us from looking to achieve anything further–and is, in effect, a form of sexism, because it’s keeping us down. If you actually read into Snow White and the Huntsman a little bit, Charlize Theron’s evil queen actually is a commentary on that: All of her power rests in her appearance of youth and beauty. (And of course, the underlying message that women in power in general are usually portrayed as evil is a problem in itself.)
Sure, you’re pretty–gorgeous, in fact!–but that’s not all that you are. You’re also super smart (here are two girls who prove it!) and funny and special and amazing. It’d be nice to see that portrayed onscreen so we’re not relegated to seeing girls in movies and on TV just playing the eye rolling girlfriend all the time–the token hottie who has no real character development, goals, or personality.
And whether we realize it or not, that influence is real. Consider this: The United States is still in 90th place (!!!!) in the world for women in government (though we have faith you guys will change that eventually, because you rule), women only make up about 3 percent (yes, 3–single digit) of powerful positions in mainstream media, and 65 percent of women and girls partake in some form of disordered eating. The fact that powerful media positions are held by men is a direct influence, whether the men mean to or not, on how we view ourselves. If all we see are tall, thin, big-boobed women and girls in our faces all the time with little to no personality or goals (save for landing a man), it’s only natural that after a while we’d begin to think that’s all we’ve got to offer or look forward to.
Miss Representation sheds light on what goes on behind the scenes of mainstream media and their limited–and often negative–portrayal of women and girls, and a lot of its information is pretty startling and will likely change the way you look at everything you take in–from magazines to movie screens to TV to the toys you played with as a kid. But our favorite part? It lets you know that you–yes, you!–can make a change in all this. Find out how here.
Are you going to see Miss Representation? Do you think women and girls are misrepresented in mainstream media? Do you think Miss Representation will make a difference in how women and girls are portrayed in the media? Tell us in the comments!