Misrepresentation of Women in the Media

I’ve watched this video about 10 times, and I keep thinking about its message.

Basically, the trailer is about how women are represented in either a sexual or derogatory context (or both) towards even the most powerful women in the United States and the world.  Women such as Hilary Clinton, Condi Rice and Sarah Palin are spoken about with no respect.

A part of me is so angry, a part of me is very saddened, and a small part of me is hopeful that some change has taken place – though not enough.

I feel angry because I know women are treated unfairly, and it seems that we have to fight so much harder to be treated equally as men.  And yet, the media (both men and women) makes a joke of it.  Seriously, “Hilary Clinton looking haggard”?!  For goodness sakes, she’s the Secretary of State – she is a busy lady!

I am sad because this is happening in the United States/North America, also known as the land of freedom and equality, as opposed to a nation where women cannot even vote.  Where is the equality in this?

I am hopeful because I see young women questioning why society is presenting them with these messages.  They are questioning why their friends are putting on 10lbs of make-up on in the bathroom, when they are at school to learn.

I truly believe that speaking up, questioning society and not accepting status quo is the only way women can make progress towards an equal society.

I was very hopeful with the messages at the end,

“You can’t be what you can’t see.”
— Founding President, The White House Project

“It is extremely important for women to be writing their own stories, and be giving them to people who will really be emotionally impacted by.”
— Rosario Dawson, Actress and Activist

“Media can be an instrument of change.  It can awaken people and change minds.  It depends on who is piloting the plane.”
— Katie Couric, Anchor, CBC Evening News


When I got to the part about women writing their own stories, I immediately thought back to the personal finance blogging community that have discovered over the past few years.

In this community, I feel we have a little utopia where women (and men) write their own stories, have discussions and share our opinions in a respective manner.  We encourage one another in reaching our goals and celebrate those achievements – no matter how big or small they are.

My Experience

Being a female in a male dominated industry – I can appreciate the different strengths and ideas that women (and men) bring to the table.   For example, in my experience, women are more diplomatic in dealing with peers and staff and are also pay more attention to detail.

I also observed common weaknesses amongst my female colleagues, such as avoiding confrontation and not speaking up (for salary/raises, for bullying), and not being aware of their finances.

Please note, I am not making a blanket statement on ALL women, these are simply my observations from my small sample size.  Obviously, there are women who stand up and negotiate their salary and many of us are very aware of our finances.  I just don’t think there is enough of us. Yet.

I encourage everyone to watch the video and share your thoughts.  How do you think representation of women affects you, or how has it affected you?  



Filed under Personal, Politics

18 responses to “Misrepresentation of Women in the Media

  1. When I saw this trailer, as the mega feminist I am, I had to watch the whole documentary. I saw it a few weeks ago, and if you ever have the chance to do it, DO!

    I am hopeful sometimes, and so sad and discouraged sometimes, too. So many people that I go to school with are so sexist and say and do things that make me want to drop kick them back to the 50’s. It saddens me because many of these people are themselves women. If we won’t stick up for ourselves and empower our selves, who will? Certainly not men.

    It’s not just the media, either. They tear people apart, but the fact that rapists only get a short period of time in jail IF they even go to jail. It’s that women go to jail for minor things because women’s jails are so empty, whereas men get out scott free for big offenses because there are too many male criminals (I encourage you to read I’ll Fly Away by Wally Lamb for a few of these poor women’s stories).

    I mean, even our most basic traditions – for instance, the act of a woman taking her husbands last name – signify’s women being items, pieces of property, to be owned.

    It’s getting better as many people shrug off these traditions, and I’m hopeful in that many younger girls are becoming more empowered. But then I see toddlers and tiaras, and the sexualization of even baby girls makes me want to just give up, lol!

    Not to be crazy negative, or anything, but we still have a ton of work to do!

  2. Hey! I met a couple at a convention, and the woman was getting her degree in engineering. Must really be a growing trend (or just coincidence that I keep running into female engineers).

    I think issues around sex often pit women against men, and I truly believe that it’s a media thing. Just look at how men are portrayed in some of those clips! Violent, oppressive, sexually aggressive! I don’t, personally, know of any men who are like that, or who would tolerate that kind of behavior. The media won’t stop portraying this victim/aggressor relationship, though.

    I’m definitely disturbed by what motivates (some) women to cake on makeup like they do. I don’t know many men who would pass judgement on a woman who doesn’t wear makeup, and I’m certainly not friends with those that do. I find it much more common that men are disturbed by the fact that women feel the need to hide themselves.

    It also cuts both ways, I think. Women get too much negative attention in the media for things like eating disorders and body image, etc. It’s twisted to pretend that men don’t suffer from those same issues, but instead, they have to suffer in silence. Not that the negative betrayal of women is a godsend, but both women and men are forced to suffer at opposite ends of the spectrum. Somewhere in the middle is discussion which is actually positive and helpful, and hopefully it comes sooner rather than later.

    • Thank you, Matt!

      You bring up such a great point about how the men are portrayed, as well. I know many great men, who are nothing like the ones in that short video clip.

      I also agree that many issues, such as health and abuse , happen to both women and men, but the media does focus on this issues and how they relate to women, when many men suffer from the same problems.

      On another note, more women are going into engineering, but there not enough, IMHO.

      • That’s really unfortunate. I find it really refreshing to see women in the sciences, and I can’t wait until we reach the point where it’s commonplace. I hope I’m not being too optimistic by believing it will happen in our lifetimes. If it doesn’t, I don’t know what I’ll think of us…

  3. I am so happy that this subject is finally being brought to light in a media that can reach so many people. I find it so frustrating when I see women who are trying to make change only being discussed in terms of their clothes and appearance, rather than in terms of their ideas and what they bring to the table intellectually. Nobody cares if a man wears a navy suit rather than a black one, or wears a different cut of shirt, so why do we care if a woman does the same?

    Women and men are equally capable of producing positive results in every field. EVERY field. Like you, I also can appreciate the strengths that both genders bring to the table in the Engineering field (and thanks for the link love). I can appreciate this, even despite the men who told me in my first year of university that “women don’t belong in Engineering.”

    And to everyone who did tell me that: Bite me.

    This is a fantastic post. I’m going to go try to track down this documentary now. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • I completely agree – “Men and women are equally capable of producing positive results in EVERY field.” Amen, sister 🙂

      From what I found, this documentary is not playing in theatres, but has select screenings – mostly in the USA. You can request a screening and I am going to look into that a bit more.

  4. Pop culture has a lot to answer for. I don’t just dislike hiphop for the music, but for the horribly misogynistic music videos. And top 40 pop isn’t much better – Britney in croptops was risque when I was growing up; these days seeing Rihanna videos makes me, a fully grown adult, cringe and blush.

    Women’s mags, too, have a big part to play, reinforcing the emphasis on looks, fashion and relationships. But as long as women keep reading them, I don’t see anything changing.

    • We can make changes, if we keep doing the same thing over and over again, right?

      Speaking of women’s magazine, I haven’t been able to find the equivalent of the men’s GQ. When I went to the almighty Google, the result was Cosmopolitan… ugh… I don’t think so!

      • I’m not that familiar with GQ…perhaps Marie Claire (one of the better mags)?

        Also, meant to say, I hope that one day doing nude scenes is not seen as a near prerequisite for new actresses starting out. They sure aren’t for men…

  5. Wow. I couldn’t believe it when the man on the news said, “the PMS and the mood swings,” in reference to having a female president. The stat that hit me the hardest was that at an early age, and equal number of boys and girls say they want to be president someday, but by age 15, the number of girls believing they can drops so drastically, like they are convinced that they can’t do it, and that is so sad.

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  8. Cait

    I’ve been trying to find a full version of this documentary to watch and have not been successful. Have you seen the whole thing!? If so, got a link to share? 🙂

    • I don’t know if you can find this documentary online – but I also know that has very select screenings (mostly in the US). However, one can also request a screening – I’m trying to work out the kinks of that. Sorry, I cannot be more helpful. 😦

      • Cait

        No, don’t worry! I just know it aired on OWN once and I missed it by like an hour… wish it would air again. 😦

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