Miss Representation

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In order to gain true insight into the portrayal of women in the mass media we studied the 2011 documentary ‘Miss Representation’. The documentary takes a closer look at the stereotypical narratives that represent women in 21st century media. The documentary states that in 2010, it was reported that children and young adults where consuming more than 10 hours of media a day (Rideout et. al., 2010).

The ubiquitous nature of today’s media means that as our children and young adults are growing and developing they are being constantly bombarded by the mixed messages presented in film, television, advertising, social media, and even the news. Despite some of these underlying attitudes not being immediately obvious, on closer inspection they make for disturbing study.

Beauty, youth and overt sexuality are the three main subliminal values that arise most commonly when women are represented in the media. Women are encouraged to adhere to these warped ideals as opposed to presenting confidence in their intelligence, drive, and capacity as leaders. However, women are not the only targets, early on young men are taught that showing emotions does not fit into the masculine ideal; men must be heterosexual, in control, unemotional and even violent. These messages are extremely harmful to a future that encourages true equality, and does not segregate on grounds of gender, race, sexuality and class.

Here is an example of one such ad released from VogueVanity:

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Even more intriguing is the statistics presented in relation to the clout positions held by women worldwide. In the workforce women make up 51% of professionals, however, only account for 3% of higher tier positions in the mainstream market. (Women CEOs., 2010) I feel that it is true that without women represented in business and politics, we are unable to achieve complete democratic legitimacy. This problem is likely to continue unless we see a shift in how fairly we represent our world demographic in positions of power.