I recently watched a documentary that I think will relate to a lot of Gilman’s theories on gender inequality. This film was released in America in 2011, titled “Miss Representation“. The film explores the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America and challenges the media’s limited portrayal of what it means to be powerful women.
“The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself. In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.”
– Excerpt from film.missrepresentation.org/synopsis
We live in a society where the people are extremely influenced by the media and what they see on television. Images and portrayal of women that you see on Television ( TV shows, movies, the news) and advertising are shaping the values and norms in our society. I think Gilman would agree with everything this documentary stands for especially at the fact that in the media, woman are over sexualized and advertisements are constantly telling Woman how they should look and what is beautiful. This effects the way woman feel about themselves , where they start to feel like they aren’t good enough and essentially become dependent on men.
I think Gilman would agree with Lisa Ling. She explains in her theories that this patriarchal society promotes Women’s economic dependence on Men and undermines their freedom as well. Gilman talks about the inequality in the division of labor and how a women’s economic standing and social status comes from her husband.
This is statement in the documentary by Nancy Pelosi represents how society has created social norms where the woman is suppose to stay home and take care of children and not have the same opportunities as men to become a leader in this society. Being asked this question in the media shows how the media, “America”, still thinks that women need to stay home and be caregivers instead of trying to become leaders, CEOs, or politicians.
This relates to Gilman’s ideology that women are oversexed and that there is too much emphasis on sex-distinction. Women are pushed excessively to devote to their looks and have to develop over the top female qualities all to attract a man. I agree with Jennifer Siebel with this quote, I truly feel that the media and this patriarchal society makes women feel disempowered as well as distract them with advertisements, fashion and beauty tips and instead of focusing on how to become a leader.
In Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper (1892), she explains that women start to become depressed and have psychological issues because of the way in which women are being treated and undermined. Women face the authority of “The Man” or “The Doctor”, both of whom claim they know what is best for her but aren’t really listening to her therefore she stays depressed. This expectation to look a certain way and also what the media portrays as what beautiful is suppose to look like in the “hyper-sexualization” that occurs in hollywood, affects every women and this leads to eating disorders, and many psychological issues among young women.
I am going to end this post with more quotes from the film to show how America ( which portrays the land of equality and opportunity) is still stuck in a patriarchal system and hasn’t made much progress:
If you want to watch the Miss Representation documentary trailer CLICK here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2UZZV3xU6Q