Take the Miss Representation Pledge

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.)

Women’s stories this week

Magnolia Pictures picked up writer-director Sarah Polley’s latest film, Take This  Waltz, for U.S. distribution beginning summer 2012.  Polley’s film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.  Read Katherine Monk’s article here, an interview with Polley in the Toronto Star, and a video of her at The Globe and Mail talking about the film.  Visit the film’s website for more information.

Finnish director Zaida Bergroth wins the Gold Hugo in the New Directors competition at the Chicago International Film Festival for her feature film The Good Son.  The fest states that Bergroth’s film provides “real psychological insight.” Read my review of it here (third film listed) that I wrote after seeing a screening at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.  Visit the film’s website here and click on “English” at the bottom to get a translation.

Mohamed Diab’s film Cairo 678 about the sexual harassment of women in Egypt received the Silver Hugo in the festival’s International Feature Film competition.  I wrote about this movie in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of Anita Hill’s testimony on Monday of this week.  Read the piece here and watch a trailer for the film.  Visit the film’s website here.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s documentary Miss Representation on media misrepresentation of women and the dearth of women in positions of influence and power screens tonight on OWN at 9:00 PM (EST).  It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

The second film in the Women, War & Peace series on PBS, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” aired on Tuesday night.  This film shows the power of Liberian women to band together to demand an end to war and the creation of peace.  The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Leymah Gbowee, was prominently featured through both interviews and video footage shot during the war in Liberia.

Watch “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” online at PBS.

The next film in the series will be “Peace Unveiled” about women in Afghanistan (airing Tuesday, October 25 on PBS affiliate stations in the U.S.)  Check your local listings.