Where Are All The Women?

By Larena Tannert

Released in 2011, MissRepresentation exposes the underrepresentation of women in the media. The enlightening documentary focuses on how women are portrayed in the media and the negative impacts on young women’s sense of worth and mental health. Shocking statistics and examples show the viewers how women are constantly being devalued and portrayed as objects, in all aspects of American society. Whether it be in product advertisements, Hollywood movies, or politics, women are sexualized and shown as items of beauty, rather than as intelligent and equal individuals. 

A huge part of the documentary explores the reasons women are so underrepresented in so many crucial areas of society. For example, extremely few women hold important government positions. In all of the United States’ history, there has never been a female president. Why is that? Because women aren’t seen as fit to hold positions of power, they are nothing more than mothers. Furthermore, the media objectifies women, which disempowers many women, and makes them feel unworthy of voting or running for office. The massive lack of participation from women in politics is a direct result of how we are portrayed. Often, women are seen as having no value besides being child bearers. In the media, a woman is either shown as an object of beauty, or as a mother, which pushes women to believe that they need to conform to these expectations. 

With so few women in government, around 50% of the U.S. population is not being properly represented. Our government is and has always been, run by men, with important decisions lacking a female perspective. 

When we aren’t being misrepresented, we are being ignored. Less than 20% of news features women. This is because 97% of what Americans see in the media comes from men’s perspectives. With politics and media being run by men, so many important perspectives are being overlooked, and women are being excluded from society. This misrepresentation is causing women to look at themselves as less and is making us believe our value is in our looks, rather than in our brains. 65% of American women have an eating disorder. Women are expected to have the perfect body and sit around looking pretty all day. The documentary provides an array of astounding facts about the way women are treated. For example, 1 in 6 women are raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime. One of the biggest explanations for this is that men feel superior to women, and do not value them. The reason we are viewed this way is that the media portrays us this way. Men watch movies that sexualize women and show women as helpless, always depending on a man. This leads to men viewing themselves as “better” and more capable than women, and it makes women look at themselves as inferior, and not important.

Currently, women are expected to depend on men, look like a model, and have no valuable thoughts or opinions. Our physical appearance matters more than anything else. How do women earn the respect we deserve? The documentary highlights the process of building women up. Support the women around you, build up their confidence, and value their ideas. Encourage other women to be leaders, and to follow their goals. When women start to build confidence in themselves and ignore the current societal norms, there will be change. Women need to hold more positions of power, and we can do so by changing the way the media portrays us, from mothers to senators, and from worthless objects to valuable bosses.