Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Miss Representation

A friend posted a link on facebook today for a trailer of the movie ‘Miss Represenation’ – a film which “exposes how American youth are being sold the concept that women and girls’ value lie in their youth, beauty and sexuality.”

I reposted the link since I agreed with what I watched. Yes, the media represents a very narrow view of women, and of what it means to be a successful woman. Yes, sex and the objectification of women’s bodies is a massive and pervasive marketing trend. Yes, young girls are bombarded with these images and many fall short in their own eyes when they compare themselves to the standards set by the media.

These things are all rather grim, but sadly, none of it was surprising.

I’ve heard these arguments for years. So while I support any effort to empower girls and women and to challenge destructive gender stereotypes, I’m discouraged that we are still having to make the same pleas.

I know that feminism has made some progress. There are those who say we’ve moved beyond feminism into some sort of post-feminist state or some sort of third-wave feminism. So we can vote, but does that mean we’re equal. When you look at the number of women who are involved in high political and corporate positions, you realize that there is a long way to go in overcoming the gender divide.

For example, a study published in Canada in 2009 found that women who work full-time, year-round earn only 71 cents for every dollar earned by men and women account for 60% of minimum wage workers.

Additional factors such as raising children alone or being a senior dramatically increase women’s likelihood of poverty. Women are also more likely than men to have no job security or benefits.

And then there’s the whole issue that Miss Representation is getting at: young people, girls and boys, receive a loud and constant message that women are valued for their beauty and sex appeal – all other accomplishments and strengths are distant second to these.

True change takes generations. I hope that when Miya is my age a film like ‘Miss Representation’ will not still be relevant or necessary.

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