Something about the rain makes me want to lay in bed all day or night and read or watch movies. One of my professors gave me a copy of MissRepresentation to watch and that is what I chose to do as I ate my California burrito. This movie leads to feelings of anger, shame, confusion and empowerment.
Anger: The media makes billions of dollars every year by marketing sexualized images of women in advertisements, films, television shows, etc. A lot of women, especially young women, see their worth in their body and how sexual they can be for men. These images lead to depression, eating disorders, body dissatisfaction, low self esteem for ALL women. You can be the most fit, confident, beautiful woman in the world and you can still find something wrong with yourself.
Also, women are horribly represented with the political system. For one, women make up ONLY 17% of Congress, yet we are the majority in the United States. We rank 90th, yes 90th, for women in the political system. That is shameful. And when women do want to get involved in politics, they are not seen for their intelligence and qualifications, they are seen by their appearance and how they handle their emotions. Hillary Clinton was called a bitch and haggard. Nancy Pelosi was never once featured on a weekly magazine as Speaker of the House. Yet, John Boehner was on the cover of FOUR weekly magazines in just his first week as Speaker of the House. And, everyone that knows me, knows I hate Sarah Palin for her unfactual statements and ignorance, however, I came to that conclusion by listening to her speak. But, I will say, the media misrepresented her as well, because she was a woman. How many times did men say she was “masturbating material” or spoke about her family. There was little focus on her political qualifications, rather it was about her clothes and how pretty she was.
It brings anger because the way men are socialized leads to problems as well. They see these sexualized images and expect women to fall into those standards. They see women as victims of violence on repeat and it becomes normalized. Displays of masculinity often include aggression or control. And, if they do not uphold the masculine ideal, they are mocked and seen as less of a man.
Shame: Because I fall into these traps as well. I am constantly scrutinizing myself in front of the mirror, picking out every flaw I have. I spend thousands of dollars a year on things to make myself feel good about myself: clothes, makeup, expensive hair products, nail polish, etc. And, I pick other people’s flaws out as well. I can’t count how many times I say, “What is she wearing?!?”, ”Do you see her hair?”, etc. I hold ideals of how I want to be and who I want other people to be as well. Although I do have a few less than typical role models when it comes to appearance (like Alison Mosshart, Tina Fey, Adele to name a few), they are still regarded as beautiful by the media. And, I have extreme body envy for women like Rihanna, Katy Perry and Zooey Deschanel. I am guilty of being a slave to the media.
Confusion: I hold confusion because I feel I am a powerful, sexual woman. But, is that wrong to want to be sexual? Is that falling into the trap that media wants me to be? I’m not sure. All I know is that I am sexual within my own terms and would never do something that I, MYSELF, would not want to do. I just do not think there is anything wrong with a woman openly saying that she wants to have sex just to have sex. And, I’m confused because in a way I don’t think there is anything wrong with taking pride in my appearance and enjoying wearing a new outfit or wearing makeup everyday. I may be materialistic in some terms, but buying clothes or shoes for me is what collecting baseball cards, comic books, or snowglobes is for other people.
Empowerment: I feel like this movie is calling me to make a difference. I’ve always wanted to run for some sort of political office, in the interest of women, and the movie magnified that feeling. If I ever change my mind and have a son or have nephews, I want to change the way he sees masculinity and his female peers. Or if I have a daughter or nieces, I want them to know they do not need to rely on their appearance to gain acceptance. And, I feel empowerment and confidence in the way I look. I should just be happy with the way I am and work to become healthier me, not stick thin. I hold empowerment because I know I am an educated, intelligent woman who can achieve things because of that, not because of the way I look. Someday, I WILL make a difference, whether it is in public office, in the classroom, or as a family member or friend.