Women, the Media, and ‘Miss Representation’

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About Kristyn Ulanday

Kristyn Ulanday is a freelance photographer and producer based in Boston, MA. She specializes in documentary photography and multimedia and can be contacted at [email protected]


  1. I think most people, men and women, get that we are all more than skin. And, the media is hard on women, I agree.

    But, the media is no friend to men either. For example, there have been few if any sitcoms in the last 10 years where the male lead (or one of them) was/is not a clownish buffoon.

    Likewise, commercial after commercial portrays men as idiots and the wife or girlfriend as the intelligent, responsible one.

    • meant to say “skin deep.”

    • Yeah, there are those commercials that portray men as un-knowledgeable about something about which their wives are experts, but the vast majority of the time, that something relates to domesticity or childcare or some other traditional “women’s sphere,” and it’s supposedly humorous that the man is even expected to know anything about the thing he’s struggling with.

      • I am sorry but I can’t agree with your assertion here. Most commercials where there is a battle of the sexes, the woman is smart, whitty and generally is able to fix whatever problem that has occurred. The man is a simpleton who is just lucky he has his wife/girlfriend to help him out.

        Bill Maher said it best “We as a society is now simply setup to make women clap”.

    • In general, I think that there are pretty horrible problems with our advertising and media today. Women are over-sexualized and men tend to be portrayed as big dumb animals that muddle through life for the sole purpose of getting laid. I finally just got rid of my TV.

      I think it would be great if people would be more aware of the influence that our media has on society. If people were more aware of these problems and more passionate about how insulting and harmful the messages are, maybe there would be positive change. I can’t wait to watch Miss Representation.

      And, if you want to make misrepreMANtation, I would watch that, too.

  2. No, they portray men as clueless about everything, not just childcare. 

    I don’t watch much TV, but off the top of my head, here are some major sitcoms where the male lead is dumb and clueless (about everything, not just childcare) and the female lead is smarter, the “adult in the room”, and usually has to be the fixer for the problems the dumb guy constantly creates:

    According to Jim, King of Queens, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Home Improvement, Married with Children, 2 ½ Men, Everybody Loves Raymond, George Lopez, House of Payne, Meet the Browns.  And virtually all the kids’ sitcoms I know of feature the girl(s) as the smarter one(s) and the boys as dumb and goofy (e.g. iCarly, Josh & Drake).

    This is obviously not an exhaustive list but it provides clear evidence that any negative media portrayal affects men just as well.

  3. Well said Eric, you are very correct in that.

    here is something to think about how the media protrays men.

    “The TALK”, recently had a segment about the man who had his penis cut off by his wife, the hosts were laughing , joking and were quite disgusting.

    Now what would happen to these hosts if they were 5 men who were doing the same thing about a woman who had her breasts cutt of by ther husband. I can tell you what would happen, they would have been fired.

  4. The difficulty with commercialisation is that in a society where we pretty much have all the basics we need to survive – and legally backed equality is included in this – the nature of the media is twofold at the very least. First, it basically tells us what we are not, by telling us what is good. People underestimate the written word and how it can be manipulated and how easily we (as a general rule) accept it. Secondly, it then markets to us the very thing that it has shown us we have lacking. That is sadly the business of the media when it comes down to generating business. And women are big business. As are men.

    Gender is a huge arena, but there are naturally accepted differences between individuals and genders (which can’t really, truly be split into two if we consider modern science advancements in genetic research). What drives a male or a female or whoever a person may be can be as basic or as complicated as we like. But there are differences, and it’s that basic. The media just finds a way to get around us all. And as social groupds we market an idea to each other and impose a set of aspirations, some of them maybe in someones eyes, seen as superficial.

    I really enjoyed reading this article and the following comments.

  5. J.G. te Molder says:


    There we go again: “It’s the men that hurt women, it’s the men that don’t portray them right; those evil, evil men!”

    No, you idiots, it’s COMPANIES that portray women that women. Female CEOs of pharmaceutical and other companies do it just as much as male ones. Destroy a person’s self-esteem, then hand them the solution, which they’ll be all to happy to give, if you pay them. It’s greed that’s driving it, and greed is universal.

    And it isn’t just women; just look at men in shows and commercials. If you find one where men aren’t reduced to emotionallly-stunted, violent, moronic children; it borders on miraculous. Of course, women in the same shows are depicted as the eternally suffering under men’s idiocy wise saint.

  6. DavidByron says:

    Yes at some point if you can back off for a second from all damage that this sort of thing has caused, it strikes you as just amazingly naive. It’s like a five year old rushing to tell you about this great discovery they just made, called the internet and insisting on telling you how it works.

    Yes ladies, life sucks. You just figured that out huh? That’s wonderful. Guess what? It doesn’t just suck for you. It sucks for men too. Isn’t that amazing? You never noticed that, huh? You never noticed anyone else’s pain because you were so busy cataloging how bad yours supposedly is. Never noticed how much better off you have it than so many other people.

    That’s cute behaviour for a five year old but when grown adults behave that way it isn’t cute. It’s narcissism. And we don’t live in a world where this sort of video is just naive and not dangerous. It is dangerous.


  1. [...] followed it up with this post about beauty and the Miss Representation campaign on Twitter which is trying to change how women are viewed and presented in the [...]

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