Last week WAPPP hosted Jennifer Siebel-Newsom, the director and producer of Miss Representation. The 2011 documentary correlates the negative representation of women in the media to the dearth of females in power and politics.
The film opens with the following statistics:
- 17 percent of government leaders are female.
- Women hold only five percent of clout positions in media.
“I’m a firm believer that if you can see it, you can be it. If you can’t see it, you can’t be it,” says Siebel-Newsom. Boys and girls never see women playing the role of the scientist, the president, the CEO; instead, “what the media communicates is that a woman’s value is not her intelligence, it’s her body.”
Miss Representation finds the average teenager consumes up to ten hours of media per day. “The media has this incredible power -- this incredible ability -- to dictate our cultural values and gender norms,” expressed Siebel-Newsom. What boys and girls are seeing are images, story-lines, and portrayals that hyper-sexualize and hyper-masculinize gender roles.
“Women are told the only way to assert power is through sex, and so the only message young girls are getting is that ‘sex is power’. This is not right.” What is worse, finds Siebel-Newsom, is that, “we’re exporting this culture to the rest of the world. The gender norms being perpetuated in the US are influencing millions all around the world.”
Siebel-Newsom says that until women are able to write their own stories, and control their own representations, these stereotypes will persist. How do we do this? We start a movement. Join the Miss Representation movement, or find a screening near you.