It made me want to cry -- or scream -- or both.
That's how I felt watching the trailer for the upcoming film "Miss Representation" -- about the depiction of women in the media. (If you haven't seen it yet, click here and watch right this minute; then read the rest of this.)
It's not hard to see why the film's message strikes a chord or why women are sending it flying around Facebook.
"Miss Representation" is beautifully done and includes interviews with an amazing array of accomplished women, but to me, what stands out is the feeling of déjà vu. And not just because Gloria Steinem is interviewed.
What Steinem helped to lead was called the women's "movement." The movie trailer makes you wonder whether we've really moved forward -- or if we've moved backwards.
In a poignant way, the film illustrates much of what we've gained -- and lost. And it's hard not to see the irony in the phrase women's "liberation" when the women of yesterday freed themselves from girdles and burned their bras, only to see today's women stuffed in Spanx and sporting silicone.
Not to mention how confusing the mixed messages about what it means to be a woman are for our daughters. And our sons.
I would venture to guess that some of the same women posting the trailer on Facebook are getting regular botox injections and buying their toddlers sexy costumes for Halloween.
Women -- at least, most of us -- have always wanted to look beautiful, young and sexy. And there's nothing wrong with that. The problem is a matter of priority and degree. The sexualization of women is so pervasive and insidious that it's become grotesque, and it practically extends from birth to death.
We've come a long way, baby?
Today the tiny female hand still grasping a baby bottle might be already wearing nail polish. And with women getting cosmetic surgery into their 80s, beauty products will have to be pried out of our cold dead hands.
It's typical and even trendy to blame the media. Though women are still under-represented at the highest levels, there are far more women in all areas of the media; yet things have still gotten worse.
It's not only them, it's us.
While I agree that the media bears some responsibility, my view is that change will not come from the top, but from the bottom (I'm not just talking about Spanx here). And that won't happen while we continue buying the products -- and by extension, the message.
I wish I had better answers. This is a complex problem involving economics, politics, sociology, psychology and biology that can't change overnight. But maybe, just maybe, American women are wising up and will start rising up.
That's part of the strategy behind the film , whose website includes a call to sign a pledge to spread the word about the way women are presented in the media (I signed and hope you will too).
Hopefully "Miss Representation" will be an important start. Although I hesitate to use the word start ... the more important question is when and where it will end.
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