In the past 13 years, women only directed 4% of the top Hollywood movies. Movies and media become a part of our understanding of the world and our culture, so wouldn’t the world be better off if the “other” half of the population also were enabled to create and direct movies?
I highly recommend this documentary. You can watch it in clips, or watch the whole thing through. It is one of the most succinct and well documented exposés of how deeply entrenched women’s deprivation of empowerment is. And yet, believe it or not, what I most take from Miss Representation is inspiration and empowerment. Once we understand the full scope of the media problem and how it is dramatically miss representing women, we can get closer to fixing it and creating a world where women are represented as the fully-dimensional, smart, interesting and incredible people that they are, instead of the mere objectified caricatures they are in the media right now. And one could argue, “Oh, well men are caricatures in the media too.” and yes, of course, this is true, but women are intensely and disproportionately miss represented and objectified in the media; it’s simply an unfortunate fact.
The film is shocking, even though it is pointing out the world around us in which we have become so painfully used to. The film crosses an array of media sub-topics and is able to create a cognitive collage of what the problem is and ways to fix it. You can’t fix a problem you can’t see, right?
One simple, poignant fact the film points out is that only 15% of protagonists in films are female. This gives you a sense of the imbalance in the media; the media which is intensely pervasive in our world and is deeply entrenched in our personal psyches. This huge portion of the population (women) is simply left out of the conversation. And when women actually are portrayed in the media, it is through an objectifying and or excessive-critical lens, and characters are left one dimensional and not without real attributes for young girls to ascribe to. Seeing is believing and if all you’re seeing is one-dimensional, sexual ‘things’ without accomplishments, what are people, women and men, boys and girls, going to believe?
Films like this shed light on just how imbalanced society is and how important it is to keep fighting for women’s voices to be heard and to be taken seriously. It is inspiring because, if we empower the whole of our society, not just the guys, imagine what we can get done? If we could effectively call the media out on their sexism and demand better portrayals, imagine the kind of role models girls (and boys) could be seeing on their screens?
Check it out!
Some of the incredible people who speak in this film are:
Geena Davis, Caroline Heldman, Hillary Clinton, Jean Kilbourne, Gloria Steinem, Jackson Katz and many more.
The Bechdel Test= Three questions that assess the presence of women, or lack there of, in movies.
#1. Are there two or more women in the movie who have names?
#2. Do they talk to each other?
#3. And do they talk to each other about something other than men?
Can you believe that most movies out there don’t pass this little test? Crazy, right?