Miss Representation: Taking on Objectification of Women in Media

Originally posted at Female Impersonator

The film Miss Representation (currently being screened at Sundance) addresses the sexualization and objectification of women in media and how this relates to the oppression of women in general.

I am personally really excited about seeing the film but Jezebel commentator Irin is wary of the trailer as it

paints a rather broad brush (and yes, trailers are wont to do this — we’ll reserve final judgment til we see the actual movie), seemingly uncritically describing all public displays of sexuality as inherently demeaning. It’s not that Britney Spears has nothing to do with how female politicians are treated on cable news, but conflating voluntary displays of sexiness in entertainment with demeaning sexualization of public figures, played over ominous music no less, is unnuanced. So are the vague references to the “media” and “Hollywood” as faceless, catchall entities.


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  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    This was my concern as well. I know, based on the people who were interviewed, that the opinions expressed are bound to be widely varied. I commend the filmmaker for her desire to include the voices of influential women across the political spectrum, but such efforts do often create sweeping generalizations. I know each of them have very different perspectives regarding the role of women in media and in the world.

    But perhaps not. I will delay judgment until after I see the film in its entirety.

  • http://feministing.com/members/alynn/ aLynn

    I’ve been mega excited about this project since I heard about it earlier this week…Honestly, I hadn’t even thought that it might be, “conflating voluntary displays of sexiness in entertainment with demeaning sexualization of public figures.”

    I take that point now, and I’m interested to see if the film does it, but honestly, I’m not even worried about it.

    I would WAY rather have women making movies about their representation in the media which confuse healthy sexuality with objectification than to NOT have women making movies which examine the media at all…if that makes sense.

    While those who follow feminist theory might have their feathers ruffled by such a confusion, I think the experience of your average girl watching the movie will be different. From the general feel of the trailer, it seems like a girl who watches that movie wouldn’t walk feeling that sexuality is shameful, but rather just knowing that the images you see in the media are inherently affected by who get to make the message. And “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” (Love that phrase.)

    And we all need a “101” entry point, ya know?

  • honeybee

    The problem is that generally the only people who watch movies like this are people who are already aware of the message/movement. Unless you had a previous interest in this issue, to most people, they would just write this off as boring or irrelevant.

    I used to not be so cynical, but the older I get the more I see that the vast majority of women don’t even think feminism matters and hardly even notice blatant sexism when it’s right in their face. Or if they do, they don’t even seem to care.

    So I have no illusions that this film will enlighten many people. Still, NOT making it would have an even less impact, so I’m all for it. Just don’t get too excited is all I’m saying.