women in the media

If women were men

What if women were men? 

What if you could just wake up and be a tall, strapping, upper-middle-class young man with the world at your feet? 

What if being a CEO of a Fortune 500 company felt like your birthright? What if a six-figure salary was an expectation of whatever field you entered? 

This is the Freaky Friday scenario I've been playing with in my head the past few weeks: imagining a woman waking up and feeling as entitled as a man or having the same access as a man. I mean, seriously, what would a 69 year-old female news anchor on MSNBC even look like? 

Guys, Chris Matthews is almost 70! And not one person is worried about his graying hair or facial lines. Is anybody worried about whether or not he's too old to keep working? Is that the same conversation we're having about Hillary Clinton?

I recently sat down to watch Miss Representation. It's all about how women are represented in the media. The film underlines how women are represented more often as sexy cheeseburgers than as sentient beings with any agency. We'd be a lot better off if more women were aware of this inequality and even better still if we could shift the way the media portrays women. 

The film is smartly done and I strongly encourage you to rent it, buy it, watch it or attend a screening in your area. BUT.... one thing it's missing is this super smart knowledge from Naomi Wolf's book, The Beauty Myth, that I'm about to drop on you: 

"It is often said that we must make fashion and advertising images include us, but this is a dangerously optimistic misunderstanding of how the market works by lowering our self-esteem. If it flatters our self-esteem, it is not effective. Let's abandon this hope of looking to the index fully to include us. It won't, because if it does, it has lost its function. As long as the definition of "beauty" comes from outside women, we will continue to be manipulated by it".

Fo shizzle we need to be AWARE of how images of women in the media affect our outlook and opinions about women. But let's force our eyeballs upon the systemic problem that is the male gaze: 

We buy shizzle because we feel crappy about ourselves. Making us feel crappy about ourselves is an extremely effective marketing strategy. So, we shouldn't look to the people who are always trying to sell us shizzle to feel good about ourselves. 

The bad news is that it's not a chicken or egg scenario. It means, ladies, we have to start feeling good about ourselves to change the media landscape. 

The good news is that Phenomenal Jane is all about making you feel good about yourself.  

Good enough to fight the power or at least enough to change out of that sexy cheeseburger costume. 


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