“The problem today is not the vitriolic words and evil actions of bad people, but the appalling silence and inaction of good people.” – Martin Luther King
Being a woman all around the world is incredibly difficult, some cultures actually fearing the birth of a daughter to a son. One would assume that being a woman in America would be wonderful especially since we pride ourselves of a democratic fair society. But being a woman in America is just as difficult now as it was in the past, if not more. The saying that “its gotten better” is clearly false and this documentary does a great job showing stats of what the current situation looks like as well as how little we as women have progressed especially in leadership roles.
There are many documentaries out there that talk about women’s issues, but this one, by Jennifer Newsom, focuses more on how media is incredibly toxic to men and women and how its attacking many women’s rights. Young impressionable men and women are constantly barraged with images of women as mere objects here for the satisfaction and appeal to a male audience. It is no wonder that girls are now entering into sexual activities at much earlier ages, many of them before the age of 12. 78% of 17 year old girls feel unhappy with their bodies and 65% of women and girls have an eating disorder. Girls are being fed a daily message that you are more valuable for your body and looks than of any other accomplishment you may have. The theory behind the reason for all these negative messages is one that many have heard too often, power struggles in a patriarchal society and yes, capitalism.
This is a powerful documentary that reminded me of the many challenges I faced growing up. Even with a small frame I was not immune to the harsh expectations that society had of me. Instead of participating, I opted out, boycotting all celebrity and beauty magazines and canceling my cable. Still, I felt the effects from the women around me. So many of them unhappy with their bodies and always on this mission for this impossible beauty.
There is much work to be done for women’s rights and this documentary shows an area that is not often talked about. Women must remember that we need to be strong and rise up against these messages. At an NPR interview, Newsome had some advice for all the viewers who felt the deep desire for change. “We now have to take the power back. A woman in Manhattan was so upset by a really sexualized ad near the bus stop at her daughter’s high school that she wrote into and called the mayor’s office and the ad was pulled down the next day. And a woman in San Francisco was unnerved by a commercial that really displayed motherhood in a really horrible light. And she wrote into the CEO of Procter & Gamble, and they pulled it off the air. There’s so much that we can do. I mean, we all have so much power. Women are 86 percent of consumers, so let’s use it. Vote with our remote, vote with our dollar, vote with our voice. Speak out when you see an injustice.”
“The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race.” – Susan B. Anthony