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Miss Representation – Can Business Women Leaders Spark the Change?

MissRepWeb © by Miss Representation Documentary
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” - Alice Walker

There is a very interesting debate happening online. It’s being highlighted with the Miss Representation Sundance film about media portrays women in a derogatory manner (see the trailer after the article).

The trailer shows media talking about Hillary Clinton “looking haggard and 92.”

It shows a clip of Sarah Palin being asked by a reporter if she has breast implants.

It shows a panel of men on a Sunday morning news program where they’re talking about Nancy Pelosi and whether or not she’s had plastic surgery.

And then it shows Marc Rudov saying the only downside to having a woman in the Oval Office is the “PMS and mood swings.”

The most powerful women in America are being shut down, based on their looks and not on their intellectual capabilities.

Imagine if the same conversation happened around men.

“President Obama, you have rock hard abs. Are those implants? Surely you don’t have enough time to exercise while running the country?”

“Marc Rudov, you seem to be concerned only with sex and a woman’s place with it. Can we take this to mean you have a small… glove?”

How can we be taken seriously when it’s all about the body and not about the brain?

As a culture, women are brought up to be fundamentally insecure. We worry about our weight and when we can start wearing make-up and getting our ears pierced and the kinds of clothes we wear.

But this is short-changing our intellectual capital, our brains, and the voices that are needed in public forums. As a society, we’re not standing for the right value and principles. And the media is making it pretty clear what people should admire about women.

Don’t get me wrong. I think a woman’s sensuality is one of our best assets. But it’s only one of our best assets.

Here’s the thing, though. We’re our own worst enemies. In more than half of the clips the Miss Representation video uses, the comments are coming from other women.

We’re catty, we’re mean, and we’re judgmental. We treat one another poorly and we rarely support one another.

How can we expect men to treat us with respect when we don’t do it?

If we want things to change, it has to start with us. The next time you are faced with making a snap judgment about another woman, think twice. When you decide not to support a woman-owned business, I hope it’s based on lack of merits and not because it’s run by a woman.

Support one another. Be kind. From there change will happen.

Image courtesy of the Miss Representation Flickr account.

 

Gini Dietrich is the founder and chief executive officer of Arment Dietrich, author of Spin Sucks, and founder of Spin Sucks Pro. In addition to Twitter, she can be found on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google+.

Click here if you’re unable to view the Miss Representation trailer.


    1. Interesting… I like the last part the most. I’m in my mid-20s (now on the downside of that hill lol) and I’m too damn busy working and competing to the top to waste my time on catty women (and men). I’ve grown my tough skin, and I think most women who made it to the top (like you, Gini!) didn’t spend much time minding those people either. But who’s telling those stories? I’ve had this conversation several times with high school girls and I realize that they go down the wrong path because they don’t have anyone to look up to. They don’t have access to the good role models to choose from. So maybe we need to start working our magic (especially since 70%+ of the PR world is made of women) and start telling the stories of these amazing women so the younger generations have options of who to emulate. Just a thought…

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      • It’s a good thought. Hopefully one of the things our community can do is shine the light on the best of ours and how we conduct ourselves. Being from a bubble culture that exists inside the US, as I was growing up I was constantly surrounded by strong women who went their own way and I thought it was normal. So that countered a lot of the TV images. I think it worked on my siblings too – both my brothers seem to like real sized women with active minds. One of my brothers saw a famous beauty on TV, paused, said she looked like she needed a sandwich. That was an important moment for me as a teenager because at 115 I was convinced that I was already fat.

        What was also fascinating, getting back to the women, was how they disagreed. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized how often they were fighting when we kids were right there. They called each other on their stuff, but not in a back-biting, judgmental way. Still learning how to do that. Out of the sphere of their influence, in college, I started seeing women as rivals instead of sisters. Long story about that, but images of beauty factored in more often than I’d like to admit. In hindsight I believe that’s where everything went sideways. Long journey back. I’m interested in hearing what ginidietrich thinks too. @ifdyperez

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        • @Tinuginidietrich I had a similar upbringing. It just shows you that a strong, healthy family is fundamental.

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      • @ifdyperez The sad thing is women are women. Until we make real change to our DNA, it will be difficult to gain any respect. It’s a gross generalization that we’re catty, but most of us are. On Ellen the other day, she said women can only keep a secret for 32 minutes. That’s a problem. We need to support one another and hold secrets and not judge.

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        • @ginidietrich 32 minutes and then you blog, tweet, and FB it. The funny thing is that same study says that women don’t also post it on G+ but I think that they are wrong about that.

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        • @ginidietrich Yup, I agree. Unfortunately, most stereotypes have some truth to them, right? But here’s the thing: values like being kind, generous, supportive, pleasant, etc. are held by both genders. So if there are women that aren’t catty, then it doesn’t mean we all are hardwired to be catty. If there’s a just one exception, it’s not the rule. That means women choose to be catty (and loud and big-mouthed). I’m just saying, these women need to cut the crap. :)

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          • Not only that, but you ever notice how this stereotype is magnified by media images – even those that are women controlled? It’s a cycle that is constantly reinforcing itself in a truth-hyperbole spin. And we all know Spin Sucks. ;) @ifdyperez @ginidietrich

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        • I’d like to see those numbers in respect to people who grow up with strong female leader figures, or strong figures period. It’s been my experience that people in general are gossipy Unless they were brought up to believe in a strong honor code. @ginidietrich @ifdyperez

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          • @Tinu@ginidietrich I’d assume the same thing (re: honor code nixes gossipy nature). And I think it says something when a women-controlled media is magnifying the stereotype. Hmm…

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        • @ginidietrich@ifdyperez Gini,. I have told you many things and you have not judged me yet!

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    2. It is very true and really sad. Women get praised first for their looks and almost never for their brains. Would we ever dare talk to a man like that? Certainly not! That is what got me so riled up when I saw a friend of mine being called “sexy” by someone who was not her husband. We have to be the ones who teach men that we will not be related to on this level.

      I have some women who I know (not friends) who are beyond catty and mean. We need to stop killing each other and start to work together a bit.

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      • @NancyD68

        Yes. It’s like there’s this unspoken code of hating first, and asking questions later. And have you ever noticed, it’s always the odd person out?

        It’s a hard balance to strike though, especially if you fall outside what the standard definition of beauty is here. My niece was born to my sister very young, and she was convinced that Barbie was the most beautiful person in the world. We were constantly praising her for her intelligence – not only was she a young reader, she knew all the world locations on the blog and the capitals, thanks to my father, when she was three.

        So once I came back from college and she asked me to buy her a Barbie. I was very concerned because the doll she wanted looked nothing like her (I was planning on saving the unrealistic body shape for another day). Which in and of itself was fine but she was holding it up as an ideal. I remember her reluctantly repeating that she was more beautiful than Barbie before I would promise to buy her one, and told her we’d pick her doll out together.

        So now, with her, my four and five year old nieces, I make it a point to tell them they are both smart and beautiful, with the praise about their brains as the dominant point.

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        • @Tinu@NancyD68 The unspoken code of looking at what we’re wearing and not what we’re saying. I’m even guilty of it (but then, I love fashion and a beautiful woman as much as men do).

          Tinu, I do the same with my nieces. It’s important for them to know they can be beautiful AND smart in math.

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          • @ginidietrich@NancyD68 True. Here’s my question there – what do you do when the child is a teenager and boys come into play? Then teenage issue is important because I remember how I got – that was the brief time when I stopped trusting what my aunts and mother said, and started thinking MTV and BET and my friends or Cosmo were smarter. Also the time I started thinking looking smart wasn’t going to get me dates. My niece seems to have made it through that patch. What are you telling your nieces and daughters to get them through it smartly and safely?

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          • @Tinu I have NO idea yet. My oldest niece just turned 13. But she thinks I am, literally, 1,000 times cooler than her mother. So, right now, I still have clout.

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          • @ginidietrich Well if you’re still the coolest while she’s 13, it’ll probably stick. Hopefully you’ll be her go-to lady and mentor.

            I know some of this stuff has to come off the top of our heads. But that boy thing scares me. A lot.

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