About a year ago, I was introduced to Miss Representation by a friend of mine. www.MissRepresentation.org is the social media campaign based off of the independent film Miss Representation.
Below is a short clip from the documentary Miss Representation by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and aired on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.
The film explores how the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence.
“Miss Representation is the award-winning documentary film that exposes how mainstream media contributes to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence in America. 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 or girl to feel powerful herself.
MissRepresentation.org is the social action campaign of the documentary film. Its mission is to shift people’s consciousness, inspire individual and community action, and ultimately, transform culture so everyone, regardless of gender, can fulfill their potential.”
Initially one may assume that this movement is another one of those female movements without much substance, without a focus. Wrong. It’s substance runs much deeper than merely stating that women should be equal. It looks at the foundation of where these beliefs start and how media plays an role in guiding these impressions. “MissRepresentation.org believes that all people should be equally represented in our media, that our voices should be heard and that we should all be valued for our talents, capacity as leaders, and ability to contribute to the world at large.”
This social media movement resonates with me on a number of levels. I was introduced to this as I was closing up a chapter of my life on the east coast and moving out the west coast for graduate school. I had received a lot of push back for selling a house, quitting a safe secure job, and completely starting over as a woman. Growing up, my siblings and I were raised to be strong, independent individuals. My three sisters and I (and my poor brother…) grew up knowing that we could do anything, be anything that we put our minds and hearts into. I never thought once growing up that I had limitations as to what I could do as a career or where I could live. I knew that the possibilities were limitless.
As I moved out here to the west coast, it became more and more apparent that I am not in the majority. Not every female was raised with the same type of beliefs and encouragements from their parents or community. Not every female has that strong independent quality for one reason or another. Did my parents shelter from non-stop media clutter, videos, and television shows? Possibly. But as an adult I certainly was bombarded with messages from the media, both explicit and subtle, what women are capable of, how they should be viewed and treated and ultimately their value. Perhaps my background has made me immune to such media.
In the film, Katie Couric drove home the point of the effect media has to influence society on the value of women. “The media can be an instrument of change: it can maintain the status quo and reflect the views of the society or it can, hopefully, awaken people and change minds. I think it depends on who’s piloting the plane.”
Media can certainly influence viewers on a number of levels. It can be all consuming for some. It can change one’s opinion for the better or worse. It becomes a part of how many of us view and understand the world.
Standing up against the sexism and disparaging thoughts about women and starting this with young children is important. Not only for females, but males as well. Their social media campaign includes a strong email marketing campaign, Facebook, and Twitter presence. It’s social media in action for a cause. It’s successful and it’s strong. There is a strong foundation and backing for their movement. Their international campaign encourages advertising companies to stop using women as objects portrayed as less than and educating youth and inspiring change. Individuals of all ages are speaking up and telling their stories – participating in the movement of change.
Celebrating the positive. Challenging the negative. Communities are involved. Miss Representation knows who her target audience is. She listens, she’s active, and she knows how to reach them.
As I’ve said before, I like a good story. I like positive change. I like what I’m seeing here.