As evidenced on twitter, discussion (#missrep) about Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s new film MISS REPRESENTATION is trending. The film premiered last night on OWN (Oprah Winfrey’s new television network).
“I pledge to use my voice to spread the message of Miss Representation and challenge the media’s limiting portrayal of women and girls”
Please take the pledge and embrace this mission to counterract the extraordinary imbalance in gender representation in the media, politics and other arenas. Whether you’re a man or a woman, a girl or a boy, we all have the power to make a positive change, even if it means just turning off the television when something offensive is being aired. The discussion following the film, hosted by Rosie O’Donnell, showed that there is also a need for discourse around issues of race and gender — an interested audience member brought this up — and also a need to recognize the positive and cultural-shifting work being done by groups trying to change the way the media portrays gender — brought up by another interested audience member. It’s not only girls and women, but boys and men who also experience the unrealistic and violent expectations placed upon them — Cory Booker (mayor of Newark, New Jersey) talked in the film about how a woman called his attention to this issue.
Inspiring, horrifying, encouraging all at the same time, I appreciate and value the exposure this serious issue of misrepresentation and underrepresentation of girls and women in the media and positions of influence and power is receiving. Oprah says on one of her network’s ads that she wants to “do for documentaries what the book club has done for books.” She’s well on her way to doing that, showing women’s lives and facilitating discussion, and we need that now more than ever!
When you pledge, you are sent these suggestions, which you can start putting into action now even without taking the pledge — but please, do TAKE THE PLEDGE. Participating makes a huge difference. There is power in numbers. Let’s stand up and represent!
1. Tell 5 people about the film and share one thing you learned from watching it.
2. Parents- watch TV and films with your children. Raise questions like “What if that character had been a girl instead?”
3. Remember your actions influence others. Mothers, aunts and loved ones- don’t downgrade or judge yourself by your looks. Fathers, uncles and loved ones—treat women around you with respect. Remember children in your life are watching and learning from you.
4. Use your consumer power. Stop buying tabloid magazines and watching shows that degrade women. Go see movies that are written and directed by women (especially on opening weekend to boost the box office ratings). Avoid products that resort to sexism in their advertising.
5. Mentor others! It’s as easy as taking a young woman to lunch. Start by having open and honest conversations with a young person in your life.
Watch filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s TED talk at TEDx Event earlier this year.
(The importance of being active participants in the media was also briefly brought up in the discussion following the film last night. Inspired by Occupy Wall Street, I want to start a movement of women & girls to OCCUPY THE MEDIA.)