Like Siebel Newsom, raising a daughter made me reexamine the world around me. While I had lost my belief in the tenets of the Catholic faith years before, I was still attending a liberal Catholic Church until my daughter was three. At that time, Austin had an ultra-conservative bishop who was determined to root out all perceived liberalism in the diocese. When the bishop visited parishes, the church leaders were advised to keep women off of the altar: No altar girls, no female lectors, no women cantors or communion distributors. While women are approved to serve in all of those roles by the Vatican, this bishop didn’t want to see women in front of the church. He’s not alone in his views. The Vatican also still asserts that women cannot be priests. Suddenly, I realized that I didn’t want my daughter being raised in a church where she was told that she wasn’t as good as a boy. Wanting a better world for her was what helped me find the courage to leave a church I no longer agreed with.
Miss Representation doesn't investigate issues around sex and religion, but it does examine the impact of the media and politics on women. Since I isolate myself from the news quite a great bit because I find it too intense to watch as an empath, I was shocked at some of the practices still happening in our media today. I knew that Hillary Rodham Clinton was disrespected by the media, but I wasn't aware of how many other female politicians faced similar unmerited criticisms based on their sex alone. Likewise, because I tend to seek out movies with strong female leads and characters, I had no idea how many actresses and female directors in Hollywood are still struggling to be seen on the same level as their male peers. Issues like these fill this fast-paced documentary that is packed with facts, video clips, and interviews with experts in many fields.
At the end of the film, someone suggests that we need media literacy courses in our high schools to help educate our students about the reality of what our media does. Given how saturated our world is by media and commercialism, I think that's a great idea. I really would love to see Miss Representation as a part of a mandatory high school curriculum, though I am sure many others who look at the world through different lenses would disagree with me.
(I've attached a very long list of questions that I generated from Miss Representation that could be used to start discussions in a group or for personal journaling. There are far too many questions to use in one meeting, so please feel free to edit and change as necessary to fit your group’s needs.)
© 2015 Elizabeth Galen, Ph.D., Green Heart Guidance, LLC