Miss Representation, as the title suggests, is a film about gender misrepresentation. Eastern Mennonite Student Women’s Association (EM- SWA) showed the film and hosted a talk-back in Common Grounds on Tuesday evening.
Sophomore Courtney Jones, who helped to host the event, said she was “very happy with the turnout. I was not expecting that many people to show up.”
Sophomore McKenzie Sauder started the evening off with the state- ment, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
The film covered the skewed view and underrepresentation of women in politics, the media, and advertising. It discussed how difficult it is to find a role model to look up to if the media does not show any of them; one of the examples was the first American woman in space, Sally Ride, may have had trouble seeing herself there since no woman had done so before.
In the political realm, the female perspective is grossly underrepresented with approximately 18 percent of congress being women. Women who do manage to make an impact on the political scheme still tend to be talked about in stereotypical ways by the media.
Newspapers generally run stories about their clothes, hair, or children rather than the issues that the politicians work to represent.
One analyst said, “We are a nation of teenage boys, we don’t know what to do with this woman in front of us.” So all we can do is talk about her body. The movie also stated that in films, only about 16 percent of protagonists are women. Beyond that, if they are strong women, they tend to either be a mean boss that needs to be taken down a notch, or a sexualized Kung Fu master. Women up to 20-30 years of age are often the only ones represented in movies and TV programs, as if once a woman reaches the age of 30 she suddenly disappears from the planet.
Sophomore Emma King stated, “We wanted people to take away several different things: ‘You can’t be what you can’t see,’ which was the tagline for the film and was one of the things we talked about the most.
“Basically, we are not seeing enough strong women being celebrated in the media, so it is hard for young women today to believe that they can do things like become the first female Secretary of State or a CEO of a major corporation. We also wanted people to realize that the media is a tool for advertising and, as such, you need to be wary of what you see and the motivations behind it.”
Jones added, “While the movie was directly geared towards the misrepresentation of women, I think men are being misrepresented too. If the misrepresentation of genders could be solved then it would allow for better communication between people of the opposite gender and people of the same gender.” For more opportunities to get involved in the conversation about gender, the EMSWA gatherings are held Wednesday nights at 7:00 in Elmwood 326.