Mark your calendars; October 20th at 9/8c the OWN Documentary Club is presenting a film that will change the way you look at media.
Miss Representation, directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, is an exploration of the media’s underrepresentation of women in positions of power and the impact the media’s limiting stereotypes have on the way women are perceived in our culture.
The film postulates that, “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it,” so without role models to look up to, girls are much less likely to grow up to achieve higher levels of responsibility and boys are less likely to grow into men who see women as their equals. The hope is that we can change the way women are represented in film and television and that this change will translate into an increase in the number of women in positions of influence.
Alice Walker said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any power.”
Miss Representation presents an important education for men, women and children. Most of us have internalised negative portrayals of women for so long, we don’t even notice them. The documentary points them out and empowers us to make tiny changes that will hopefully lead to a cultural paradigm.
So, what specifically are we supposed to be noticing and objecting to? According to Siebel Newsom, “Media is teaching children, on a daily basis, that a woman’s value lies in her youth, her beauty, and in her sexuality and not in her capacity as a leader.”
“The magnitude of objectification of women and the way objectification gets internalised, both by men and women, impedes girls and women from realising their potential,” Siebel Newsom says.
If the objectification of women is fraught with negative outcomes for society, which the documentary explores, why does it continue?
“Media is trying to make women feel insecure and manipulate them into buying something or it’s sexualising women so that men buy something,” explains Siebel Newsom. The media is selling to us, all the time. The better we understand this, the better we’re able to see it objectively.
We live in a time when the media is omnipresent. We’re always connected and we’re constantly encountering undesirable images; and so are our children. We want little girls to grow up understanding that they are equal to their male counterparts, and we want little boys to grow up seeing women as equal to men. Yet, that is not the projection they see in the media and it is limiting the role women ultimately play in society.
Miss Representation is more than a documentary, it is a movement. The website misrepresentation.org provides information, learning materials and classroom curricula for media education, starting at the kindergarten level.
Everyone is encouraged to become active in the movement, by taking the pledge: I pledge to use my voice to spread the message of Miss Representation and challenge the media’s limiting portrayal of women and girls. Head over to the website and be counted. – Jen R, Staff Writer.
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