Needless to say, I get a lot of emails like this.
Anyway. So I'd never actually seen the documentary because I don't think it's out on DVD and it's been difficult to find online until, lo and behold, it appeared on Netflix one day! A few million episodes of Parks and Recreation and Extreme Couponing later, I finally watched it and I. Got. So. Angry.
So yeah, Miss Representation is about how women are represented (MISrepresented) in the media, and just how fucked up everything in the world is ever. The way I see it, it's like the women's movement happened, things got better for women legally and kind of socially and The-Men-Who-Run-Everything went 'shit! We can't let this happen!' and did everything they could to make women insecure, self-hating, body image OBSESSED and just generally made to feel as though they're not good enough for anything. This takes a few different forms, from airbrushing in every photo you see in a magazine so that some impossible standards of beauty are created, to abusing female politicians, mostly about the way they look, but also about the audacity of their decision to, you know, leave the kitchen, when obviously nobody wants to hear what they have to say. Because of their vaginas.
What it comes down to is this: The media has created an impossible, impossible situation for women where you have to be THE most beautiful creature in the whole world or nobody will like you, but at the same time, even when you are this most beautiful creature, you're not allowed to do anything because you're just a woman, and don't be silly, women don't have ideas or anything! It's not even just that though- it seems that, if women try to be or do anything that they're not expected to do, there's always some negative spin to be put on it- for example, I present you with this article about the fact that 3/5 of young doctors are female (How cool is that?!) and why that's a problem because you know the wimmins are just going to ruin everything with their lady bits and baby having.
AND it's not just that. Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere, women are UNDER represented on TV. There are so few TV shows that star women, and even less that are considered 'important' viewing, for the pure reason that TV shows and films starring men are supposed to appeal to both genders, whereas those starring women are only supposed to appeal to women. That is complete BULLSHIT, of course, and THEN so many movies that star women are really about men because, let's face it, all women really want to do is get married and have babies and that's IT. And it's the 'that's IT' bit that's really the problem because, you know, I think that is something that many many women do want, but what about everything else we want? Why is that never talked about and explored, and why doesn't anyone make movies about it, and why why why are we left with such shallow and flat and non-exploratory definitions of what women want and what motivates them and what else there is to life apart from men and babies?
I realise I kind of haven't talked about the documentary that much, but really the questions it raises from the evidence it gives are more important than the film itself. It's a good film- well made, well thought out arguments- it does almost completely focus on the US, but the US is fucked up enough to provide evidence for a whole documentary, and from that you can really apply it to other places (as I did to the UK, obviously) easily. It's going to make you really fucking angry, and you know what? You should be angry. You should stay angry. The way women are treated by the media isn't fair, it isn't right, and being angry about it, and voting with your remote control and NOT just letting it fade into the background of your thoughts is the only way to combat it.
This documentary has reminded me why I get so angry when people say that feminism isn't necessary anymore, and why I'll remain angry until I see as many women as men on my TV, in my government, in businesses, making movies and writing TV shows, and until those women are allowed to look exactly the way they want to look, not the way it works for the media to have them look to conform to some bullshit standards of beauty. Until, in other words, women get the same treatment as men by the media. I mean, come on. It's only fair, right?
Duuuude, I've been wanting to watch this forever, I didn't know it was on Netflix! *runs over to computer*ReplyDelete
When Julia Gillard was prime minister she was hounded by the media and public EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Her voice was too nasal, she had a big bum, she wasn't married and her long time partner is a hairdresser (so obvs he's gay and she's his beard), sigh. The worst thing though? Germaine Greer*, supposed feminist, went on television several times and criticised Gillard, not for her politics, but because her outfits were so ugly. I CAN'T EVEN.
*Germaine Greer is the worst though, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.
Omg omg omg I love you so much for saying that Germaine Greer is the worst because she ISSSSSS, she's the WORST. The crap that comes out of that woman's mouth, holy shit. I hate her so.Delete
And ohhhh, Julia. I totally love her because of that speech she gave in Parliament where she was all like 'stop being dicks about me, I know it's because I'm a woman, fuck youuuuuuuu' (it didn't go EXACTLY like that...) because it was awesome. NO ONE SHOULD BE LOOKING AT THE PRIME MINISTER'S BUM HOW DARE YOU!
Okay, so I don't have Netflix, but I DO have a multiregion DVD player AND a laptop that I don't THINK throws a hissy fit with Region 1 DVDs... so I've added it to Le Giant Wishlist. Of course I have.ReplyDelete
Most excellent thoughts and arguments, as usual - and speaking as a woman who Does Not Want Babies (At Least I Don't Think So), a little representation of women who *GASP* don't only want to procreate would be delightfully refreshing. And I do mean 'representation', not 'representation as awful awful people who are epic fails as human beings and should get themselves a baby immediately'.
OR you could just get Netflix which is a bargainous £6 a month and gives you access to ALL THE THINGS EVER (especially if you get US Netflix too. Ohhhh, US Netflix...)Delete
Anyway. Yes, I believe your desire in this respect is not unreasonable, and the thing is, it's not even that I want there to be NO women characters who want babies and husbands (as well as other things) but more that I want MORE women characters in general who want different things and are separable from each other and and and just MOAR WIMMINS!
Also, fun fact: when I read this comment in email form, I thought you said you didn't want baRbies, and I was like 'What? Well I should hope not, she's 2...I want to say 6? We're going with 26, people.' But you said BABIES. Ugh, I need reading lessons...
GREAT post. I just watched this last week, no lie. I watched it with my 13 year old daughter. Talk about a million great teaching moments!ReplyDelete
Ughhhhh yes! I can just imagine watching this with teenage girls and just being like LOOK! Look at what the media is doing to you! But you can ignore it! You can rise above it! You are all amazing! (and so on hahaha)Delete
"There are so few TV shows that star women, and even less that are considered 'important' viewing, for the pure reason that TV shows and films starring men are supposed to appeal to both genders, whereas those starring women are only supposed to appeal to women." This pisses me off so much. Well everything in your review thing pisses me off (not cos of your review) but UGH. It's stuff like this that makes me think that feminism on the more serious fronts are really just as important as the more "frivolous" stuff, like representation on TV. You can't get one without the other.ReplyDelete
Yeahhhhh, I did kind of just rant about all the things that piss me off in this review. I mean, it's not so much a review as 'WHY DOES THE WORLD HATE WOMEN?!' But yeah, that whole 'why would men want to watch a show about women, women are boring' thing is SO annoying. Like, I think I've mentioned before that there are those 4 shows that are considered the best TV shows ever, and not one of them stars a woman. Like, Mad Men comes close, but it's reaaaaally still the Don Draper show. WOMEN ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS MEN AND ARE PROBABLY MORE INTERESTING BECAUSE LOOK AT THE SHIT WE HAVE TO GO THROUGH!Delete
I honestly honestly believe that, whilst obviously legislation and things have to be in place so that women get equal treatment in the workplace and whatnot, that it's so so so important how they're represented in the media because, like, how are we supposed to know that we can want things, and get things, and even get into jobs where being treated the same as men even becomes an issue? Representation of women in the media is maybe THE most important thing... Or at least this documentary has kind of made me think so. Like, just one example: it's sort of the media that decides who the next President will be (sort of, sort of), and when have they EVER backed a woman? EVER? Never.
Oh and ALSO (sorry, I'm off on one now!) there's that thing where, if one woman is bad at something, it means that all women are bad at something; whereas if a man is bad at something, then it's just him who's bad at it. As if all women (and this happens with like racism and homophobia and all those other bad things too) are just one giant entity whereas men are separate people. SO this one time my dad was like 'no one will ever vote for a woman as Prime Minister again' (because Margaret Thatcher was an EVIL WHORE-DEVIL) and I was just like OMFG how can ALL women be held accountable for one? THIS MAKES NO SENSE, SEXISM MAKES NO SENSE, I HATE EVERYTHING.
Seriously, dude, so angry.
YES on all of this comment. It all makes me so angry that I have to yes to this comment because WHY ARE THESE PROBLEMS STILL THIS IS SO STUPIDDelete
Extra agreed with the whole "if a woman does something badly, all women are bad at it." Which is stupid. It's because men get to be individuals but women are just some generic group.
There's a word for this whole thing and I can't remember what it is and it's BUGGING me. But basically the only word we need for it is stupid fucking sexism that should not be tolerated. SO THERE. *burns bra, except doesn't because hey, I need that*Delete
"*burns bra, except doesn't because hey, I need that*" ahahahahaaDelete
I get so annoyed at this, especially in Japan where sexism is even more rampant than in the UK. I.. really don't have anything to add to what you've said, but it is SO unfair how women are treated, and the expectations that people have of women. Sigh :(
Woah, wait, I'm just going to pretend you didn't say that because noooooo Japan is perfect! Hehehe. But yeah, it's all really unfair, and basically I just hope that, you know, it gets better over time and one day- ONE DAY all women will be accepted as equal to men, not judged solely on appearance and all those other good things you'd expect to happen. BOOOOOO SEXISMDelete
It's okay, it's only really super noticeable when you live and work here. So sometimes it's easy to pretend that it doesn't exist. Yay! Hehe.Delete
Yeah, it would be nice. It would be nice if everyone could just start being nice to everyone else in general and treating them as they would want to be treated themselves. It's unlikely to happen, but still.. *dreams*