On November 13th at 5:00 PM in the Woodland Commons, the Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality will be hosting a screening of Miss Representation, a 90 minute documentary about how women are presented in the media to mainstream culture and how this affects women’s role in society.
According to www.missrepresentation.org, the official website of the documentary, “While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.”
As of 2012, Women hold only 16.8% of the seats in the American Congress, and only 23% of positions in State Legislatures, according to the Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, at Rutgers University.
The documentary was selected to participate in nine different film festivals, including being an official selection at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Miss Representation was written, directed, and produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsome, and contains interviews with Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem.
The Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality, along with aid from the UMass system, Zuckerberg award, will be starting a pilot program using this documentary, in which the film will be shown at each of the UMass schools. Students who attend screenings will then be invited to a social justice/feminist media literacy conference to become facilitators of the film, and help share the film with high schools across the state.
The goal of the screenings coming up on November 13th at UMass Dartmouth, March 5th at UMass Boston, and March 12th at UMass Amherst, and also at the high schools and middle schools over the following two years, is to educate students on women’s role in the media, how women are portrayed in our society, and how we can work for change.
According to Miss Representation’s website, “The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.”
One of the messages contained in the film is that people cannot be something which they are not shown lies ahead as a possible achievement. When media shows women in derogatory roles, or absent prominent ones, such as in legislature or intellectual roles, then women are dissuaded from trying to strive for positive positions in society.