Earlier today, while my kids were still at school, I wrote about the way in which unions pushed a Leftist agenda into the classroom. I should not have been surprised, therefore, when Little Bookworm came home from high school and told me that, because one of the teachers was absent, they spent classroom time watching Miss Representation instead. Little Bookworm was not pleased with the movie. Why not? Because, according to Little Bookworm, the movie claimed that there had been a right wing takeover of media, and that Fox was a terrible, corrupting influence on the media.
I recall reading about Miss Representation when it first came out, and thinking that it was rather foolish, with its usual Regressive . . . uh, Progressive worldview, one that’s rooted firmly in the early 1970s. In Regressive-land, blacks are perpetually in the back of the bus, while women are barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. (Which is why it’s such a hoot when an arch Regressive such as Paul Krugman tries to ascend the “reality based” soapbox to accuse the Right of factual ignorance. I mean, this is the guy who thinks you can solve the deficit by minting a trillion dollar coin.)
Where was I?
Oh, right — Miss Representation.
Since it seems that Miss Representation isn’t just some silly 1970s retread, I decided to check it out. First, the cast, which already tells you that this is propaganda from one side of the political aisle and not the other:
|Dianne Feinstein||…||Herself (as Sen. Dianne Feinstein)|
Is it just me or, with the exception of Condi rice, are conservatives missing from this list of media and political luminaries? Except for Condi (and I don’t know how she stumbled into this crew of knaves and cutthroats), the speakers in this “documentary” all come from the Left or, failing that, the Far Left, with some of them even emerging from under those rocks that shelter the truly loony Left.
But maybe I’m just being nasty and judgmental. Maybe this stellar cast of Progressive thinkers (ahem) was able to pull a Fox and present a “fair and balanced” approach to the issue of women in the media. As far as I can tell from the reviews that people put on IMDB, the movie is the usual stuff about a male hegemony that deprives women of high visibility roles, which is funny coming from a film that features the highly visible, well-paid Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Gloria Steinem, Jan Yanehiro, Dianne Feinstein, and Geena Davis, to name but a few of the downtrodden women who regularly appear on American airwaves and are very, very, very rich.
The movie also earnestly explains how TV makes women feel ugly, because it’s filled with images of unnaturally beautiful women. Yeah, like that’s never happened before in history:
My point, of course, is that, at all times, in all places, women have been objectified for men’s pleasure. And when men strut around in uncomfortable suits of armor, or ride off to the battlefield, or get their body’s tattooed, they too are preening for the opposite sex. That’s nature, not prejudice.
Moreover, as Thomas Sowell explains in simple (not simplistic) terms in Economic Facts and Fallacies, 2nd edition, is that women fall off the career track, not because of institutional misogyny, but because they have babies. A large number of women, probably the majority, when given the choice, elect to stay at home raising their children. While their husband’s spend 18 years honing their careers (learning skills, climbing the corporate ladder, making contacts), women spend those same 18 years nurturing the up-and-coming generation. It’s a Herculean and important task but, at the end of 18 years, they cannot simply walk into an office an demand a job at the same status and pay as their male counterparts who stayed in the office for those 18 years.
All of the above, in the context of Miss Representation, is the usual squawking that comes from a tired old feminism that, all real world experience to the contrary, continues to demand equality of outcome, rather than equality of opportunity.
The only area in which the movie seemed to try for some sanity was in its attempt to liken the media’s treatment of Hillary Clinton with that of Sarah Palin. I haven’t seen the movie, but this sounds somewhat apples and orangey. Back in the 1990s, Hillary did get challenged, but those challenges came from the right, which had no media outlets, not from the Left. I was there and I remember how Hillary was lauded. She was trumpeted as a career woman and a co-president. She got a 60 Minute segment to forthrightly explain (to media hurrahs) that she wasn’t there just to bake cookies. When the Lewinsky excrement hit the fan, the media loudly and proudly supported this valiant woman.
During the 2008 campaign, the media supported Hillary wholeheartedly, right until they turned against her. But they didn’t turn against her because she was a woman. They turned against her because they’d discovered an even more exciting, more politically correct candidate, and one with a drool-worthy body to boot. (And yes, the media went crazy sexualizing Obama, with New York Times articles detailing women’s Obama-centered sexual fantasies, with photo spreads about his pecs and abs, and with icky stories about female reporters on the plane begging Obama to showcase his manly assets.) Having found an even sexier candidate than Hillary, all that they could do was turn their back on her with stories about her temper. Boo-hoo.
What happened to Hillary was utterly unlike the savagery unleashed against Sarah Palin. She was persecuted in a way hitherto unknown in politics, from garbage can trolling, to mail hacking, to scurrilous rumors about her pregnancies, to unending attacks on her intellect, and on and on and on. This wasn’t because Palin was female, in which case her beauty would have been lauded as a campaign attribute. This was because Palin was a conservative female. She therefore had to be destroyed and, more importantly, her femininity had to be destroyed.
Comparing the media’s treatment of Hillary and Sarah is false equivalency with a vengeance. It elevates Hillary without ever rescuing Sarah.
What really got my knickers in a twist, and what will have me contacting the school tomorrow, is that Little Bookworm told me that the movie aggressively attacks Fox news as emblematic of what the movie claims is a conservative takeover of the news media. Little Bookworm wasn’t exaggerating:
Numbers don’t lie: Women make up 51 per cent of the population, yet comprise just 17 per cent of Congress. That is just one of the facts director Jennifer Siebel Newsom highlights in her debut documentary “Miss Representation.”
The film strings together statistics and interviews with women leaders to underline what it sees as a barrage of criticism and deluge of negative imagery the media rolls out on a daily basis.
“Unfortunately, the media and our culture is sending back to us the message that a woman’s value lies in her beauty and sexuality, and not in her capacity to lead,” Newsom told ABC News’ “Top Line” today.
Mainstream media, Newsom said, is particularly guilty.
The film highlights a jarring headline from New York Magazine juxtaposing Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin: “The Bitch and The Ditz.”
Fox News appears to be a repeat offender. The film shows a montage of the cable news network’s anchors and guests zeroing in on the physical appearance or mood swings of political female leaders.
Fox News is a “repeat offender” only because Ms. Newsom (who is married to San Francisco’s stylishly metrosexual ex-mayor Gavin Newsom) focused on Fox in much the same way that Jon Stewart, as partisan a comedian as one can find, focuses obsessively on Fox coverage, while carefully avoiding the drive-by media’s slavish devotion to Obama, fixation on celebrity (and everybody else’s) sex and sexuality, and general “race to the bottom” culture. I’ll just note that the Leftist media was fascinated by General Petraeus’ fall from grace, but couldn’t be bothered to cover Obama’s drone war or his malfeasance in Benghazi.
Movies such as Miss Representation might have some good points. However, to the extent that they are carried along on a wave of Leftist rhetoric, faulty statistics, a denial of human biology and its real world effects, and a deep and abiding hatred for the single somewhat conservative media outlet in America, they have no place in public school classrooms.