MissRepresentation(2011) – Stirring

I am just back from watching the documentary MissRepresentation as part an activity with the Graduate Women in Physics at the Ohio State University. So why would I review a documentary? Because, it angered me, agitated me, made me want to act, and act soon. And more importantly, because it was good!

Directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom

MissRepresentation, which premiered at Sundance 2011 talks about the portrayal of women in the media. Statistics are shown, and the data speaks. Women are severely under-represented in every sector, from politics to Hollywood. Women share their stories and they are stories of discrimination and misogyny.  Pictures and clips are shown and they all capture women simply as objects of physical pleasure.

I must remind you that I am living in the United States of America – the land of opportunity beyond race, color, and gender (At least we are told so). If such is the state of affairs here, then women in less fortunate countries must suffer a worse fate. Although the documentary focussed mainly on issues in the US and statistics from the US, MissRepresentation transcended boundaries for me. I do not see much difference in the way Indian media objectifies women. After all, we learn everything from the West!

You would that thought women in the west are better off – NO!

Maybe women of power are treated fairly – NOT at all!

And girl children? – Of course, not.

A young girl has to conform to the definition that her society sets, and as she grows older, the rules only get tougher. The only way a women gets to be a perfect women, is by looking perfect. It does not matter whether the young girl grows up to be an awesome journalist or a presidential candidate. The only thing the media cares about is what she is wearing and how she is wearing it! Don’t trust me? Watch the news tomorrow. This is the crux of MissRepresentation!

We have to fight to eliminate all sorts of inequality – be it based on caste, color, race, religion, or sexuality. When roughly 50% of the population is discriminated against, you know you have to act. NOW! It was nicely highlighted in the discussions after the movie by some fellow students (including male) that this issue can be resolved only when men also start changing their idea of masculinity. Kudos to that thought!

Recent incidents in India, debates in the US, and events all over the world, signal a possible paradigm shift. We have a chance to catalyse this change – and progress into a world where women are treated equally.   And, as Gandhiji said, “Be the change you want to see”.

The movie critique in me speaks: A bit too long! But, must-watch and be ready to get your soul-stirred!



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