This past Tuesday for Gender Empowerment Week at the University of Rhode Island, Lindsey Costa, Graduate Assistant at the Women’s Center worked to help foster this week’s theme by screening ‘Miss Representation’. A film that outlines the true power that media holds as a means of learning for society.
Blake Lively, Jessica Simpson, Megan Fox, and Angelina Jolie are all actresses known in today’s media as either being the sexiest women alive, possessing the hottest bodies, or being cover girls. However, the existence of these titles has created a world where women have become a sexual item rather than a person who is smart and can make a difference in society.
“Women are used as sexual objects in films,” said Josh a high school student and character in the film. Spokespersons throughout the feature explained how the media portrays women as bitchy, crazy, stupid, catty, and natural enemies with one another. Fighting over who is more beautiful than the rest.
Rachel Maddow, host for The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC points out, “I want you to focus on what I’m saying not what I’m wearing.”
According to the film, due to the images the media is portraying towards women on how they should look and should act is ultimately very damaging. In the film, studies showed that 53% of 13-year-old girls feel unhappy with their bodies due to photo-shopped images they have seen of models having the “perfect bodies.”
The film also provided studies that showed the rate of depression has more than doubled in women between 2000 and 2010.
“When is it going to be enough?” asked high school student Maria. Women make up 51% of the population according to the film’s statistics, and only 34% of women have served as governors.
The film featured women such as Condoleezza Rice, Former United States Secretary of State, and journalists Gloria Steinem and Lisa Ling.
Director, writer, and producer Jennifer Sibel Newsom said, “We can’t turn a blind eye to how the media affects the minds of our daughters and sons.”
American educator, filmmaker, and author Jackson Katz followed up with her comment by explaining if boys are taught at a young age that it isn’t manly for a girl to be smarter than them, then how do we expect men to act as they get older?
The film explains how people learn more from the media than any other educational source. Statistics in the film proved that people spend more than 10 hours a day on social media with all the resources we have.
Ling makes a good point in addressing the issue of, “…if women don’t stand up for each other than no one will.” The film as a whole brings awareness to both men and women on how they both actively act encouraging these stereotypes.
By the end of the film, sources are given to the audience to help take a stand. The film’s social media pages such as Twitter inspire people to take a pledge and tweet with hashtags in hopes of ending such stereotypes. By going to: www.missrepresentation.org you can learn more on how to educate those around you.
Costa’s hopes for this film were to bring the statistics and images to the audience of the misrepresentation of women and for students here to become more aware of the issue with gender stereotypes.
“I think people forget that there is an issue,” she said. “And I think this film really does a good job portraying especially in media the disparaging between men and women specifically.”
Gender Empowerment Week will be held from March 23 through March 27. For more information on other events happening this week check out the URI Events page.