Rhetorically analyzing a documentary miss representation
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Rhetorically analyzing a documentary miss representation. Ashley Carbonell and Jasmine Miclat AP Language, December 2013. Background/context.

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Rhetorically analyzing a documentary miss representation

Rhetorically analyzing a documentarymiss representation

Ashley Carbonell and Jasmine Miclat

AP Language, December 2013

Background context


  • Miss Representation was written, directed and produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. She was angered by the representation of women in media. She was worried for the consequences of this on her daughter.

  • After it’s premiere, Oprah Winfrey acquired the broadcasting rights for the film.

  • The main focus is on mainstream media and how it contributes to less women being in influential positions of power.

  • The United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.

  • Women make up 51% of the US population... however women comprise only 20% of congress.

  • U.S. women continue to earn 77¢ to every dollar that men earn.

Essential questions

Essential Questions

  • Does media impact the way that people think?

  • How are women represented by the media?

  • How are women changing how they view themselves because of the media?

  • How are men changing how they view women because of the media?

  • Why is this kind of representation affecting how many women are in influential positions in politics and business?

  • How has the representation of women in media changed over the years?

  • What kind of influence does the media have on young women?

  • What is the difference between how women are represented in the media and how men are represented in media?

Essential questions1

Essential Questions

  • How is media shaping our society?

  • What are the different aspects of media that are having an effect on women?

  • What are the roles that women play in media?

Purposes and aims

Purposes and Aims

  • To advocate a change in how the media represents women.

  • To criticize how women are represented in media.

  • To shed light on the realities of media, corporations and politics.

  • To expose the prejudice and stereotypes put upon women in all aspects of life.

  • To contradict the number of men in power with the number of women in power.

  • To foreshadow the effect that the media could have on future generations of America, especially women.

  • To compare how women are influenced by the media with how men are influenced by the media.

  • To juxtapose how women are represented in media with how men are represented in media.

Purposes and aims1

Purposes and Aims

  • To connect the representation of women in media with the number of women in politics.

  • To illustrate the effect that media has on women.

  • To question why women are represented wrongly in media.

Arguments and claims

Arguments and Claims

  • Media is wrongfully representing women.

  • The media is objectifying women as sex objects.

  • Women are not taking office or influential positions because of how they are represented in the media.

  • Women do not have enough say in society as men do. Because of this, our society is not as democratic as we may think it is.

  • Both women and men have changed the way that they view womenbecause of the media.

  • Media is becoming influential in our daily lives and changing the way that we think.

  • There is not enough regulation in media.

Arguments and claims1

Arguments and Claims

  • Even though women made gains during the Women’s Rights Movement, these gains are being regressed by the media today.

  • Men are represented more fairly in media than women are.

  • Politicians and corporations are controlling all of the ideas that American society is exposed to.

Ads objectifications politics

Ads, Objectifications, Politics

  • Length: 4 minutes

  • Source: Netflix

  • This clip exemplifies the money that is put into advertisements and the kind of image of women in these ads. This influences how women think of themselves and the kind of leadership positions that they are in.

Scene analysis 1

Scene Analysis 1

  • The scene starts with introducing the idea of the “political economy” of the media. Further explanation reveals that the “political economy” is the fact that since advertising makes most of the money, the non-media content has to support the advertising. This establishes an inter-changeable relationship of advertising and content. The scene continues with Maria, a high school student, explaining her opinions about media. She points out that media is about “how they want you to be something that you’re not.” This quote sheds light on the effect that media has on how we think of ourselves. To support this, Jean Kilbourne elaborates further on this issue in stating that advertising mostly focuses on portraying men in power and women with certain beauty standards. In doing so, this characterizes the media as something that sets up standards for society. This points out the influence that media has in the ideals that we set up for ourselves for both men and women. It then connects this idea to beauty advertisements and the fact that only one type of body type is shown in these ads. It goes on to show how much America spends on advertising and that most of the countries of the world have GPDS less than that. These two facts expose the amount of money that is put into advertising and how it has become so important to America. The scene goes on to connect these advertisements to how much money is being spent by American women on beauty products and procedures.

Scene analysis 11

Scene Analysis 1

  • It contrasts the amount of money spent on buying beauty products and procedures to how much different college educations cost. In doing so, the scene explores how women are willing to spend money on artificial beauty instead of something substantial such as an education. It goes on to connect the objectification of women in media to how the women objectify themselves. Several of the symptoms of objectification are shown. This exaggerates the implications that objectification of women in media has and the severity of the issue. The scene furthermore connects the objectification to the say that women have in politics. It draws a parallel to the objectification of women to how many women are likely to run for office and vote. The scene implies that this objectification is only going to further decrease the amount of women politician. The fact that the 2010 election was the first time women have not made gains in congress since 1979. In stating so, this demonstrates how times are changing and how the political power that women have is diminishing. The number of women and men governors contrasts the power that both genders have in government. The scene distinguishes the political power women have in other countries to the political power women have in America. At the end of the scene, it affirms that the United States is not an ideal democracy with such a misrepresentation of women. Because we chose our leaders from such small part of the country, it underscores the democracy and representation that we have in this country if we are so limited with the kind of leaders that we have.

Women in entertainment

Women in Entertainment

  • Length: 4 minutes

  • Source: Netflix

  • This clip exposes the kinds of roles that women are put into in media. It contradicts these roles with the kind of roles that men have.

Scene analysis 2

Scene Analysis 2

  • This scene is started with stating how there are few multidimensional roles for women in entertainment to even audition for. Scenes from movies and television shows showing the same stereotypes for women play on the clip. The scene show men in very powerful roles while women are sexualized and seen as weak. This emphasizes the large number of images we see if women this way. In doing so, it demonstrates the negative images that are portrayed through American media. It exemplifies the stereotypes that women have in entertainment media. The scene cuts to a high school student named Ilian stating that “women are never protagonists in movies” and that if they are the protagonist that it usually is about “getting the guy”. This quote points out the prejudice against women in entertainment. It goes on to contrast the complex roles that men are given complex roles while women are given simple roles. Ilian states that “it seems normal for us”. This notes that Americans are used to the stereotypes put on by the media and they do not see that it is something that we should be aware of. It characterizes Americans as viewers that do not pay attention to what they are watching. A fact shows on the screen that states “only 16% of protagonists in films are female. Stating this fact juxtaposes the miniscule amount of female protagonists with the large number of male protagonists. This contrasts the two genders in entertainment.

Scene analysis 21

Scene Analysis 2

  • Geena Davis, an award-winning actor, states that she often hears that “things are getting better” when in reality they are not. This contrasts the opinion of media that Americans have of media with what media really is. It condescends the notion that media is getting better. Also, the scene states that most movies are either revolve around mens lives or they are “chick flicks” which usually revolve around men’s lives as well. It belittles the common notion that chick flicks are about women. Pointing this out exposes how mostly all of entertainment is about men’s lives. It goes on to state how most of these movies revolve around trying to “find a man, get married, get pregnant” and that most of the female protagonists in animated movies center around finding romance. This minimizes the potential and complexity that women have. It classifies women focused around getting a man and starting a family instead of striving for other goals. Lisa Ling exposes the fact that as a culture women are brought up to be insecure and look for their “knight on a horse that will rescue us or provide for us”. This illustrates how these movies are teaching women to always look for a men to provide for themselves. Furthermore, the scene focuses on women bosses in movies. With these women bosses, the films revolve around taking down their power. This downplays the power that women have in movies. The scene ends with comparing the complexity of women in past entertainment with how entertainment puts women “in a box”. This contrasts how our society viewed women in the past with how they view women now. It draws a parallel between how media views women with how

History of women

History of Women

  • Length: 6 minutes

  • Source: Netflix

  • Talks about how America’s history and media has given but also taken away power from women.

Scene analysis 3

Scene Analysis 3

  • The scene begins with stating that they do not want to “undervalue” the progress that women have made in America but introduces the idea that media has played a role in defining who we are. It goes on to state that in America, patriarchy is the main setting where men hold high positions and women are treated as second class citizens. This contrasts the very powerful role that men have in our society with the weak role that women play. It emphasizes the large power that men have in America. The scene goes on to say that women gaining power has been problematic in American society. This belittles the gains that women have made in American history. After stating so, the scene continues to tell the story of women having factory jobs during World War II only to have them taken away when the soldiers came back from war. This connects the role that women have in society to the presence of men. It distinguishes how quickly the situation changed when the men were gone to when they returned. It exaggerates the role that men have in determining how our society works. Furthermore, the scene focuses on how media persuaded women to return back to home and abandon their jobs. This exemplifies how media can change how a person acts and influence their decisions. Different media campaigns are shown, drawing attention to the extent of theses images that were being shown to women. This exposes the push to rid the power from women.

Scene analysis 31

Scene Analysis 3

  • The scene focuses on how television was the driving force behind this push. It demonstrates how the commodities shown in different television shows persuaded women to return to the house and the kitchen. It connects these commodities to the idea of the “good life”. Next, the scene focuses on the role that government and capitalism had on this movement. It juxtaposes what women saw to the reality of the situation. It draws a parallel between advertising pushing capitalism and the government pushing capitalism. Doing so confronts how capitalism was changing how women viewed themselves and taking away power from women. The scene continues to the Women’s Rights Movement and the gains that women made during the movement. It exaggerates the power that women gained in such a short time. Different images are shown of important events for women’s rights. All of the images shown praise the bettering of women in society. Once the timeline reaches the ‘80s, it shows the change that took place in politics. After a great period of change, it shows how it returned to very conservative views. This contrasts society before the ‘80s hit to after the time period hit. It sheds light on how we viewed women changed yet again. The scene states how the word liberal was viewed differently during this movement and points out how change was no longer a focus. It criticizes the fact that women were the number one targets in this. The scene juxtaposes the gains that women made with the losses of the current times. It exemplifies the losses that women suffered through these times.

Closing points

Closing Points

  • Women still have a long way until they are represented fairly in American society.

  • Women have to be the change that they want to see in society.

  • Women are just as capable of changing our future

  • We have to change what the focus of media is on. The media should be focused on the successes of women.

  • Women deserve the same opportunities as men.

  • How the Media Failed Women in 2013: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NswJ4kO9uHc

  • The Double Standard of Beauty:


Take the pledge today

Take the pledge today!

  • http://therepresentationproject.org/pledge

Any questions


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