I like women. I came from one and I live with three. Having said this, when I hear the word “feminist” I get nervous and look for the nearest shelter. Little fruit comes from monologs and most people who have an “-ist” at the end of their title aren’t looking for a dialogue. I say all this because the film Miss Representation could easily have been a rant about the under and misrepresentation of women in media, but it wasn’t. This film cultivates the soil for needed dialogue.
(Quick Blurb: Jennifer Siebel Newsom, actress and wife of the Lt. Governor of California joined forces with over 20 influential women in the media from Jane Fonda and Katie Couric to Geena Davis and Nancy Pelosi. They address questions like, “why do most women in movies have to be hyper-sexual, bitchy or dumb?” The film actually addressed women as being their own worst enemies instead of empowering one another as one of the causes of misrepresentation.)
As a man sitting in the theatre packed with not only women, but women of influence, I took on the role of a sponge. Throughout the documentary, I absorbed stats that flashed on the screen as the interviews bounced back and forth to a variety of powerful women. The stats informed the audience about the increase of plastic surgery amongst teens and the disparity of wages in the U.S between men and women. 60 other countries have had women presidents and we have not. The documentary displayed the immense power found in media and then revealed a stat about the leadership of each major network. Fox News has 1 woman for the 16 men on the executive board while NBC and CBS were not much better.
While Sundance films covered the exploitation of Liberians, Rwandans, orphans and the environment, I didn’t expect to experience an issue that was in my own home and occupation. Each person and plant I just mentioned are creations of God and it is the specific issue of empowering women that I believe I can have the most influence over through teaching, writing and training. Oddly enough, this film about women was really a film about men. There is a great need for education among our young men, who might grasp the need for change better than the generations of men before.
When this film is released, I will be using it as a platform for discussion and can’t wait.