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Greeting from Net Roots.

I had the opportunity to take in a screening of a documentary at Netroots today.

The film was called Miss Representation by Jennifer Siebel Newsome. It is described as thus:
A documentary film that explores women's under-representation in positions of power and influence in America and challenges the limited portrayal of women in the mainstream.

Thoughts, impressions after the fold.

First of all, I'm on page here. I don't write much about this, but was quoted in a recent diary regarding Senator Gillibrand's goal of recruiting more women into politics, that "50 female Senators and 218 House Reps would be an experiment in Democracy I'd like to see us try."

Why not? The men aren't doing so hot with their super-duper majority.

Anyway, Newson's film makes an overwhelming case for how much it sucks to be a woman and trying to find a decent representation of an empowered woman, whose primary goal in life does not revolve around pursuing and pleasing a man.

When the topic turned to deconstructing language, particularly as it related to media discussions of women, I really felt an affinity as a gay man. Newsome shares a collection of conservative quotes from the 1970s about how the "feminist agenda" was destroying America. One could have run a "find" and "replace" substituting "homosexual" for "feminist" and seen nothing amiss. One suspects some of these folks actually did just that (especially the Pat Robertson example). Feminists and gays, we're just both so awful!

A frequent rhetorical tactic of degrading gay men is to feminize them. But it isn't only about associating them with women, it's about associating them with the sterotypical qualties that would also be offensive to women: "hysterical," "overly-emotional," "erratic."

And usually these observations come as a response to someone objecting to the status quo. Because it's isn't conceivable these people are merely offering measured critique on an injustice. Oh no. They are clearly pitching a "hissy fit" (usually over no big deal).

The film is stuffed to the gills with a lot of truly horrifying and dismaying data, like women are:

  • 3% of clout positions in the mainstream media
  • 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs
  • 7% of mainstream film producers
  • 16% of film protagonists
  • 17% of Congress

Blech. A strong woman I admire very much, Wanda Sykes said recently,
"We can do better."
It's such a simple statement. And so universally adaptable.

There are copious pop-culture clips demonstrating how the media machine works repeatedly reinforcing messages that women's value exists only in their appearance. And how men's role is to treat women as playthings and objects. Though we'd like to think we're invulnerable to these subliminal messaging, the film makes a case that we and our children do incorporate them.

And why does the machine do this? Surprise! men make all the decisions.

It's an entirely a-list cast of women who offer commentary between the clips and infographics. The producer's rolodex is impressive, included are Nancy Pelosi, Jane Fonda, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow. One person interviewed is Condi Rice. Whatever her credibility problems on WMDs, I do respect her authority to discuss what it's like to be the only women in the room in a male dominated field. And I found myself liking her very much. (I always kind of did. I could have been a fan, had she not been so horribly wrong so much of the time.)

There was some exploration about how we can go about doing better. The producers entertained questions afterward. Present was Krystal Ball, (it's so hard not to make a joke here) a young woman who took a run for Congress at midterms, who discussed her experience. They have set up some social networking and resource gathering at (I should plug my own junior Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's effort to encourage women to be more involved here: Off The Sidelines.

The film was shown at Sundance and is expected to have both a theatrical run and be shown on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network. Definitely a recommend.

I found it frustrating to watch obviously, but very informative. I'm also always like to see these sorts of issues discussed; the big elephants in the room. Why is 83% of Congress men? And what makes that so unquestionably OK?

I found it very entertaining, informative. And it does end on a nice up note. Condi Rice describes her admiration for Sally Ride, the first woman astronaut. And points out, if you want to do something, it's a bit of a cop out to say, "I don't see any examples of people like me doing that." Someone's gotta first. If you dream it, why not you?

I didn't have a penis, I'd probably be feeling pretty fired up to crash the gate.

Maybe some Kossacks will feel the same. From what I've seen, Daily Kos is some pretty fertile ground to recruit some strong, smart—female—leaders. It's time. If this is what feminism 2.0 look like, I approve. (Oops, not that you need me to. Sorry.)

Originally posted to Scott Wooledge on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 09:06 PM PDT.

Also republished by Pink Clubhouse, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Milk Men And Women, and DKOMA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (27+ / 0-)

    That marriage equality opposition is led primarily by Clergy is a confirmation present law is the establishment of religion.

    by Scott Wooledge on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 09:06:12 PM PDT

    •  Looks like a great film! (0+ / 0-)

      You Kossac convention people have all the fun!   :)   Hopefully one of these years they'll have the festival in Los Angeles so I can go.  

      (-6.25, -4.36) Just another socialist lesbian undermining the sanctity of marriage by breathing

      by Gertrude on Fri Jun 17, 2011 at 02:41:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Unrelated question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Julie Gulden

    Is the tomorrow mornings strategy session open to all of us?

    "That's not what justice is," the colonel jeered, and began pounding the table again with his big fat hand. "That's what Karl Marx is."

    by BFSkinner on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 09:08:55 PM PDT

  •  Even for an insomniac straight man... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revsue, Gertrude, FindingMyVoice

    ...such as myself, who has the unfortunate disposition of having to be in the office in just 5 hours,
    this was an interesting read...

    rec'd accordingly...

    There is no denying, that woman have certain superiorities over us men...

  •  Sexism and homophobia are linked (12+ / 0-)

    The reason you can so easily translate the right wing attacks on the feminist movement into attacks on the gay movement is because sexism and homophobia are joined at the hip.  Sexism devalues women.  Homophobia devalues gay men because we engage in what is considered female behavior.

    The two prejudices are linked.  Homophobia owes a great deal to sexism, so to speak.

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 11:08:25 PM PDT

    •  Agreed. 100% (5+ / 0-)

      I just hate all the masculinist bullshit in the world.  It ruins (or tries to ruin) everything.

      You've articulated the relationship between the two forms of bigotry perfectly, and I'm so glad that a gay man has made a feminist film.  I'll sleep well now.

      Cheers. :)

      All I see is these fake fucks with no fangs tryin' to draw blood from my ice-cold veins. - Jay-Z

      by fou on Fri Jun 17, 2011 at 12:51:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks I was trying to to figure out how to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      codobus, FogCityJohn

      explain what you just did marvelously.  

      (-6.25, -4.36) Just another socialist lesbian undermining the sanctity of marriage by breathing

      by Gertrude on Fri Jun 17, 2011 at 02:36:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And furthermore..... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      codobus, FogCityJohn, Clarknt67

      The "pro-choice" movement and gay rights movement have very similar goals:   To keep the government from telling us what to do with our own bodies and to keep the government out of our private, personal lives.  

      (-6.25, -4.36) Just another socialist lesbian undermining the sanctity of marriage by breathing

      by Gertrude on Fri Jun 17, 2011 at 02:39:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Masculine Theory #1 (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      codobus, FindingMyVoice, FogCityJohn

      To many men (including most Republicans, male and female) the world is a zero-sum game:

      Dominant Man = +1
      Submissive Woman = -1

      The only "perfect" relationship adds to zero.
      If it's above zero, it makes Republicans uncomfortable because they don't want to join in.
      If it's less than zero, it makes Republicans uncomfortable because they want to join in to bring it closer to zero.

      Or something like this...

      But don't forget that most men without property would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich, than face the reality of being poor. (1776)

      by banjolele on Fri Jun 17, 2011 at 04:56:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great review! (4+ / 0-)

    I'll have to watch for this documentary when it comes to tv.

    From your writing, it sounds like what I would have watched and talked about in the 1970s and 80s.  The more things change, the more they don't change for women, GLBTs, and minorities.  

    Bring on the revolution!  Got to be a revolution, because I'm too old and tired to march these days.....

    "Because inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened." -Terry Pratchett

    by revsue on Thu Jun 16, 2011 at 11:18:11 PM PDT

  •  How fabulous! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gertrude, codobus, FindingMyVoice

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us!  I'll be sure to watch the film.

    Yet another great post Clark.  Thanks for all you do.

    All I see is these fake fucks with no fangs tryin' to draw blood from my ice-cold veins. - Jay-Z

    by fou on Fri Jun 17, 2011 at 12:48:51 AM PDT

  •  Great diary....sounds like a good film to see (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    codobus, FindingMyVoice

    and I will be looking for it.
    If I'm not mistaken, Jennifer Siebel Newsom is the wife of Gavin Newsom, former Mayor of San Francisco who is famous for starting the round of same sex marriages in SF City Hall on Valentine's day in 2004.  I have to say, Mayor Newsom (now CA lieutenant governor) was a mixed bag in many ways, but I'll always appreciate the fact that he started that little corner of the revolution.  

    I love the connections made above in comments about the relationship between sexism and homophobia.  So true.

    •  I rather assumed there was a connection. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Anti Em

      As he's in the film.

      I declined to Google it as I decided her relationship to a man was irrelevant. LOL.

      That marriage equality opposition is led primarily by Clergy is a confirmation present law is the establishment of religion.

      by Scott Wooledge on Fri Jun 17, 2011 at 03:54:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Did everyone here also see the Op Ed piece (0+ / 0-)

    this morning in NYT, at the bottom of the page about  about manly men.  One of the interesting points it made was that not so long ago, the terms of the stereotype were different but it still worked the same.  

    The premise was that in former times unlike Ahnuld and Weiner, the standard for being the manly man was self control in all matters, with the kind of  masculine self indulgence and the freedom to be so which is now popular thought to be a sign of masculinie immaturity, and the sex thought to be aggressively sexually aggressive and such was women, with anything smacking of sexual aggressiveness in a man making him,. . . . effeminate.  The example give was the warrior king Pedro II of Portugal, who was called precisely that because the night before a battle he was with a woman rather than praying or in war council.

    So the standard is reversed but the notion is the same. Men not acting to standard, whatever it is, are historically and negatively called effeminate, because women are the antithesis of whatever it is to be manly. And only the notion of manly changes.  

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