As a female, have you ever watched a film, TV show, music video or even commercial that rubbed you the wrong way as a woman? If you’ve ever had this experience then you’ll be glad to know that you are not the only one.

There is no denying the fact that media (film, TV, print, internet) plays a major role in our lives today. The power of the media has become so great that it even has the power to shape our ideologies and the way we think, see and understand ourselves and the world around us. Unfortunately, this power is not always used in a positive manner. One of the important issues in media that deserve to be explored today is the representation of gender, particularly of women. This is precisely what the documentary film Miss Representation aims to do.

Using the film that she has written and directed, Jennifer Siebel Newsom wished to address a reality that—although very much present everywhere—most people fail to see. The film exposes and examines the messages that mainstream media sends out about how women are and should be. Unfortunately, these messages are often constricting, derogatory and downright oppressive. For instance, it’s now common to see reality shows featuring “cat fights” or violent confrontations between women. These fights not only make headlines but can also potentially boost the show’s ratings. Meanwhile, music videos from the past decade up to the present depict women as overly sexualized objects that are often submissive to the more dominant role of males. In fashion print ads, it seems to be in vogue to show glossy pictures of beautiful models being victims of crimes or domestic abuse, albeit holding the latest handbag of the season or looking fabulous in a swimsuit.

Unfortunately, women who are in power and in leading positions in the political arena are not represented any better. Female politicians are still being criticized for their looks, age and weight. Instead of substantial news about these intelligent women’s intellectual achievements and political projects, most media outlets prefer to explore more sensational stories related to breast implants, plastic surgery or fashion choices. In a nutshell, modern media in America still represents women in such a way that female audiences are pushed to judge themselves and their worth based on their looks and sexual attractiveness to the opposite sex. Values, intelligence, skills and talents are set aside.

Miss Representation seeks to expose this problem and hopefully trigger change. The documentary features thought-provoking and intriguing interviews with women from politics, media and entertainment, such as Condoleeza Rice, Rosario Dawson, Katie Couric and Margaret Cho.