Posted by at 3:34 am  Politics
Jan 192013

This article was written for Politics Plus by Lynn Squance.  Please join me in thanking her for excellent work.

19miss-repOn the 08/01/13 Open Thread, TC`s MoveOn was about "Miss Representation", the portrayal of women by and in the media.  At that time, my comment was:

I have 3 words for this: misogynist bear scat! Who cares if Hilary Clinton doesn’t wear makeup? Why is it so important that women look "just so" but men do not have to live up to the same standards?  3 words again: misogyny, double standard. Little men are afraid of the power of women. Real men are not. Damn I am glad I know some real men here!

I also said that I was going to try to see the documentary "Miss Representation" which was going to be aired at the University of BC on 17/01/13, and I did. The media helps to form our culture by the messages that it transmits, but also by how it transmits them, or how it frames them.  The media, overtly and subliminally, is shaping the brains, emotions and actions of viewers. Our prime value, as displayed in the media in many ways, is BEAUTY.  Beauty trumps accomplishments and intelligence.  And as a result, the old adage of ‘sex sells’ becomes more obvious. Interviews with high school teens, Kate Courric, Rachel Maddow, Jane Fonda and many less well known people are throughout the presentation.  Clearly, girls want role models that are smart, strong and accomplished. An interesting statistic:

53% of girls at age 13 years worry about their body image; 78% of girls at age 18 years worry about their body image; and 65% of women have an eating disorder.

The media message getting out to girls and women is that they need to be something they aren’t, and the media isn’t too.  The number of almost anorexic super models is staggering.  Even more though, the amount of photoshopping of models to present the "perfect" look is astounding.  What is worse, is this is the image being bought into by too many people — women and men.  Women are being objectivised and as such are less engaged in the things of life that really matter.  For example, women in the US are less likely to go into politics  than other countries such as Cuba, Iraq, and China (PDR).  But those same less engaged women spend $12 – $15,000/ year on beauty products.  Talk about priorities! At a number of times throughout the presentation, this being one, my mind turned to the  Republican/Teabaggers and their war on women.  Although there was no political message as such in the documentary. nonetheless, the message was there. An interesting, albeit disgusting fact, in some states, domestic abuse can and is being considered as a pre-existing condition by some health insurance companies, and as such health insurance coverage is being denied to women.  I was almost struct dumb by this.  No mention of which states as I recall. When it comes to how people see women, women are hardest on other women.  You’d think that women would support other women, but it was found that wasn’t generally the case.  Could this explain partially why there are still women voting in Republican/Teabaggers despite the war on women? In the US, girls/women in their teens, 20s and 30s make up 32% of the US population.  But when it comes to TV characters, 78% are young women.  That surely shows the amount of influence daily that is thrown at young women.  I remember thinking that if I had a daughter, the TV would be, if there even was a TV, set to National Geographic and the Discovery Channel.  But it isn’t limited to TV.  Just look at the portrayal of women in movies.  Even the ‘strong’ ones like Cat Woman, Wonder Woman etc are sexualised in skimpy, form fitting costumes.  If you had men in ‘skimpy, form fitting costumes’, their blood supply to their brains would be cut off. One male student said that what he sees is women putting men down, but really what they should be doing is trying to lift herself up.  And I thought, what a great idea.  Too much energy is used in criticism of others.  What if that energy were used instead to lift up, to inspire confidence, to try to change perceptions? When the US entered WWII at the end of 1941, six million women went into the manufacturing sector building just about everything including airplanes.  But 2 days after the end of the war, without so much as a ‘by your leave’, 800,000 were fired and sent back to their domestic duties. There are a number of ideas that were left to think about:

What part do I play in this culture? Why is the media not held accountable by legislators? Men are emotionally constipated.

And there were two things that I felt noteworthy from the discussion (I have to say that a lot of the discussion was inaudible as there were no microphones and there were over 100 people in the lecture hall):

NEVER underestimate the power of your own voice! Be gender blind, colour blind etc.

It should be noted that the film has a distinctly US perspective, not a North American perspective.  This does not mean that Canada is not victim to the same shameful attitudes, but during the discussion afterwards, many people, including the panel, noted that Canada has advanced further forward than the US. Here is a link to the documentary on the internet.  I asked TC to check if this url worked in the US and it does.  But one problem exists — if you already have Netflix, you may not be able to get it.  You may have to get the DVD when it is available.  It is worth watching though and your perspective will assuredly be different from mine.  Here is the link. http://www.yidio.com/movie/miss-representation/35923?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=Search&utm_campaign=miss-representation-MOVIE-CANADA-CUSTOMCMPGNppca&utm_term=miss%20representation&sf_campaign=CA+Movies+%3Csearch%3E&sf_adgroup=miss-representation-MOVIE-CANADA&sf_adid=14011685891&sf_keyword=miss%20representation&sf_type=b&sf_placement=&gclid=CI2vxa698bQCFW6CQgodlRYAXQ


  17 Responses to “MISSREPRESENTATION”

  1. I enjoyed reading Lynn’s article last night . I was going to comment on it but was too tired. Now, half awake and without a cup of strong coffee, saw that it had moved. Yes, I agree that the girls growing up today need strong female roles models that are smart, intelligent. Added word from Lynn: accomplished.

    Yes, statistically speaking, Lynn is correct with the figures in her article. One other fact she mentioned was that “in some states, domestic abuse can and is being considered as a pre-existing condition by some health insurance companies, and as such health insurance coverage is being denied to women.” I was dumbfounded, to say the least, and was wondering how the insurance companies would know this and not report the facts to the police, authorities, social workers.

    I have a friend who would prefer to be in a foxhole with Sarah Palin rather than Nancy Pelosi. I wrote back to him saying that I would prefer Nancy over Sarah. He says that she knows how to shoot a gun. Retorted back to him that Nancy knows how to get Congress to pass the Health Care Bill. In other words, I prefer women who are doers over quitters.

    Yes, the media does portray women as sex symbols a majority of the time. Witness the celebrity articles all over the internet attached to news articles. Witness the TV female news editors, commentators that are on TV news stations. Yes, women do spend inordinate anounts of money on makeup, clothes. There is one woman whose makeup always astounds me every time I see her at the coffee shop. She says that she spends 1/2 hour applying her makeup each morning. I replied back to her wondering what she looks like before she applies her makeup. She laughed. Yes, I can believe the figures Lynn wrote in her article.

    Love this idea: “What if that energy were used instead to lift up, to inspire confidence, to try to change perceptions?” And yes, “men are emotionally constipated”, more so in the GOP/Teabagger group. Yes, we all have much to do in supporting women who are intelligent, doers in the media. We need to change the perceptions men and people have about the role of women in our modern contemporary society. We need to become more progressive and more demanding of the media to change the roles for women from “sex” symbols to “accomplished”.

    Thank you Lynn for your article. Much appreciated.

    • Jim, all the statistics came from the documentary — my only 'claim to fame' came from watching the documentary out at the university and taking notes, which when I went to write this, were illegible to a large degree.

      As to the domestic abuse, I took from the presentation that it was past domestic abuse that was used as a pre-existing condition.  It probably came up as a result of questionnaires on the insurance forms, or from the large databases that insurance companies have and share.  Current domestic abuse I think should be or would be reported by the doctor/hospital if treatment is rendered.  Isn't it nice to know that not only are terrorist suspects rendered to other countries for "questioning", but women are rendered within the US by insurance companies!

      As I said at the beginning, Miss Representation is about the portrayal of women by and in the media.  So it isn't just the on screen women, but all women that the media feeds on.

  2. This came into my mails this morning. It is related to Miss Representation.

    Dear Jim,

    What a week for women in Hollywood! On Sunday the Golden Globes were hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who put women front and center and were widely heralded as the best hosts in years. Meanwhile, the Sundance Film Festival opened yesterday, for the first time ever with an equal number of male and female directors in the dramatic competition. There was also news this week that 9% of the top 250 movies at the box office in 2012 were made by female directors – the biggest percentage in over a decade, and substantially higher than last year's 5%.

    Finally, The Invisible War, directed by Kirby Dick, produced by Amy Ziering and Tanner Barlow, and executive produced by a powerhouse group of women including our very own executive producers Regina Kulik Scully, Sarah Johnson Redlich, Geralyn Dreyfous, and Jennifer Siebel Newsom, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary! The film investigates the epidemic of rape in the U.S. military and has already garnered numerous awards and sparked real action from government officials – including a planned Congressional hearing on military sexual assault and a pledge from incoming Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to actively fight violence against women in the military.

    But the recognition from the Oscars means a whole new level of notoriety and public awareness for this project. It's a huge victory for the brave survivors of military sexual assault and for all those who continue to suffer in silence. But it's also proof of what is possible when we all come together to create social change through media. 

    This week we'd like to congratulate The Invisible War on all their success and make sure that this important film is seen wide and far. Share the trailer with your friends on Facebook, post it to Twitter, or forward this email today.

    By raising awareness around this project we will guarantee that the voice of women will continue to be heard, louder and louder, in Hollywood and beyond!


    The MissRepresentation.org Team


    Official Preview:




  3. My husband pointed out Sister Sarah didn't know how to use a gun either. I don't care whether she does or not, I just hate seeing lethal weapons in the hands of psychopaths like Palin.


    • I heard that too about Palinsane in not knowing how to shoot a gun… True or not doesn't matter to me. Palinsane makes me feel very warm in knowing that she is losing support and slowly ebbing out of the political scene.

  4. Excellent article Lynn, thank you – and I agree with it.  And excellent response by Jim – but Jim, wouldn't your friend be worried that if he were in the hypothetical foxhole with $$arah Palin, that she would shoot his friends not his enemies?  That would be one of my worries!


    • I don't think my friend ever gave it a thought. He should worry as palinsane would most likely run to the rear,

      screaming, once the shooting started and things got rough. lol. Thanks for the compliment.

      • Palinsane (Love the name!  Reminds me Sodamn Insane of Iraq) and others like her, both men and women, would never be in the foxhole in the first place!  Goes for Wayne LaPierre and the rest of the upper echelon Republican/Teabaggers too!  That kind of stuff, you know, mortal danger, is for the plebeians like you and me.

        But really, can you see her as a role model for teens etc?  I sure can't, unless I wanted a role model for an unethical life.

  5. I agree with your take on women's attitudes towaard themselves and other females. I was alwys amazed by how much they considered body image over everything else about them. I was actually stupid enough to try to get them to stop painting and dressing themselves like streetwalkers. No amount of talking influenced a single one of my friends.

    That is just a drop in the bucket.

    • Isn't that the truth!  We used to have fun with some of the outlandish and cheezie shoes — called them CFMs (come f*** me shoes!) because they sure looked like somebody was ready to strut their stuff on the boulevard.

      If a woman/older teen wants to wear makeup because she feels better, then a little is fine.  But if someone else is saying she should, then they can go to hell.  Know why you're doing something.

    • It's not just women.  If I had a nickel for every "do you want a bigger penis" ad that I have receivced, I could retile in Willard-like luxury and take all our regulars here along.

  6. I want to thank everyone for reading the piece.  I actually had done it as an add-on in the Open Thread (so yes Jim, your eyes did not deceive you!).  If you watch the documentary, you'll find more information as I can only make so many notes as I go.  I of course, added a few more personal comments (which of course I never do! LOL) but otherwise, you can see the documentary was full of information.  And I can tell you, there are some wonderful young women coming up, and some intelligent young men too.  Let's just keep them away from the Republican/Teabaggers!

  7. Lynn, you did a great job, not surprised, though.  My granddaughter, who is 3 1/'2 years old, all ready wants lip gloss and false finger nails.  This floors me.  Every commercial, every tv program sexualizes women.  When will brains be popular?

    • Edie, I remember those days well, but it wasn't because of TV or the media, it was because I saw my mother wear lipstick etc in the 50s.  You should have seen what I did to a pair of her high heel shoes — decided white was ugly so used a combination of crayons and lipstick to give them colour.  Fortunately they were old but still wearable shoes because even with that, I swear I didn't sit down for a month!

      To answer your question, I don't know.  But I will tell you when I was hiring, I went for brains and the right attitude before I considered anything else.  Some things you can teach, others you can't.

      • Thanks Edie.  Glad you liked it.

      • This reminded me of when I was almost 4 and had the measles. We had a very tiny 3 room apartment with the TV in my parents bedroom. It was a treat when you were recuperating because you got to lstay in their bed and watch TV during the day. Well, I decided I wanted to be pretty like Mommy and put her red lipstick on, ALL over my face. She screamed when she saw me. Luckily, I was sick so I didn't get my normal thrashing.

        Funny, the memories that pop up.

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