When it comes to the representation of women, U.S. media has a long way to go.
That was the central message of the documentary “Miss Representation,” which was screened by Power on March 13. Twenty students attended the event, according to Power secretary, Commerce junior Kayla Knight.
“Considering how Power events are usually attended, I was pleasantly surprised,” Knight said.
She first discovered the documentary via the website StumbleUpon a few weeks before fall semester began. However, it was only within the last month that “Miss Representation” was available for purchase.
“You cannot escape being advertised to,” Knight said. “You’re being exposed to these images and messages and if you don’t know how to deconstruct them and pay attention to how they could be affecting the way you think, you won’t have any filter for them.”
The film outlines the limited ways in which women are portrayed in American television shows, music videos, advertisements, and news programs on networks like NBC and Fox News. Director Jennifer Siebel Newsom explained how she wants her young daughter to grow up in a world with empowering images of women.
Aaron Decker, Albion senior, believes the documentary isn’t just for women.
“I think that it’s important for men to watch in the way I think feminism is important for men to be involved in,” Decker said. “It allows men to speak up when they see something that is harming women and, by extension, harming them. Feminism, this film, allow men to think critically.”
Segments of the film were critical of media emphasis on women’s appearance — their objectification, and the harsh criticism they face for failing to live up to impossible standards of beauty. Journalist Katie Couric talked about her surprise when she watched footage of her wearing short skirts as co-host of The Today Show — clothing she wouldn’t consider wearing now.
According to Paige Narins, Kingston junior, the film encourages women to see themselves as more than objects.
“I, just like every other person on this earth, am so much more than my looks,” Narins said. I’m smart and I have so much to offer to society, and that is what Miss Representation is all about, seeing the uniqueness in every woman that is both external and internal as beautiful.”
Photo provided by Riet Groenleer.