Miss Representation Misses the Mark
By Lacee Shepard
The MSU school of Journalism, the MSU Telecasters, and Media Sandbox sponsored an event that was hosted in the Communications Arts and Sciences Building on Thursday, March 22. The Neal Shine Ethics In Journalism Lecture featured “Miss Representation a film about the treatment of women in the media and the boardroom.” After the film there was a panel discussion that consisted of Ginny Seyforth, President of SeyforthPR, Taryn Asher, TV Reporter Fox 2 Detroit, Sue Carter, professor at MSU School of Journalism, and Bonnie Bucqueroux, professor at MSU School of Journalism.
There was only a viewing of 36 minutes of the film and in those minutes we witnessed stories from multiple celebrities including Katie Couric, Geena Davis, and Condoleezza Rice. Personally I thought this film was a little ridiculous. It was packed with statistics about how few women were politicians or major actions stars, as if those are the only things that matter.
The film had a brief section about a female police chief and a female fire chief in California, but they presented it as if that was the only achievement women have made in 30 years. And the film was sure to include the fact that a man had “given” these women their jobs.
I agree that we do need more women in office and that we do need to keep working to prove we are just as able as men but this film should celebrate all that women have achieved and all the strong women we have in this country. It did not focus on the amount of female doctors, firefighters or police officers. The film glorified CEOs and senators, but there was no recognition for women who have started their own businesses or women who are in the military or the other jobs that women do everyday.
There were few points that I actually agreed with in this film, one of them was how men viewed women. This film did a large portion on Sarah Palin and Hilary Clinton and how they are viewed based on their outfits and looks. It also brought up how female news broadcasters are often over-sexualized. I do agree that when it comes down to it, we as women are judged on more superficial things than men, this is something we need to work towards abolishing.
The film made the point that women are taught to view other women as the enemy and even behave in a “catty” manner towards each other. I agree with this sentiment. From a young age we are taught that we need to be prettier, skinnier, funnier and smarter than any other girl if we expect to get the job, the guy, or the attention. This is one of the few things I agree with from this film and I think that if we could stop some of the girl-on-girl hate we could get further in society.
The panel discussion managed to show everything the film told us we, as women, were doing wrong. Panelists made somewhat “catty” remarks, there were disagreements, some panel members got too emotional, and it was all somewhat confusing.
Overall the only thing I took from this lecture was that you should get what is considered to be a “real job,” -like becoming a CEO- you need to dull down your looks and show very little skin, do not be catty towards other women and you need to prepare because despite all of this, men will still objectify you.
I think “Miss Representation” was created with the intent of being empowering but the film just made me feel bad about myself and rather hopeless.