Saturday March 31, I attended the Miss Representation screening hosted by BKB. It was amazing! For those who missed it, here is a summary of the film:
The documentary explores how the media represents women in movies, tv shows, ads, politics, and the news. Specifically, in the context of the United States, the message given to women and girls is that their value comes from their body and physical appearance. Regardless of academic, political, and professional achievements, what matters the most in how they look. The media plays a role in shaping this discourse and reinforcing this in a variety of ways. From developing simple, one dimensional, female character’s who’s action’s revolve around getting a boyfriend, getting married, and having a baby, to reality TV female characters that mainly cat-fight, back stab, and call into question the other women’s sexual past, the media presents a limited representation of how to be a women. In terms of representation, women comprise 7% of directors and 13% of film writers in the top 250 grossing films. Women make up 51 percent of the US population but only 17 percent of Congress.
These limiting roles leave young girls with no alternative messages and many try to live up to unrealistic definitions of beauty. Ads play on these messages and use harmful gender stereotypes with images that reinforce unhealthy, unrealistic expectations of beauty, perfection, and limited messages on sexuality. According to the film, “the number of cosmetic surgical procedures performed on youth 18 or younger more than tripled from 1997 to 2007. Among youth 18 and younger, liposuction nearly quadrupled between 1997 and 2007 and breast augmentations increased nearly six-fold in the same 10-year period.65% of American women and girls report disordered eating behaviors.”
Not only does this hurt women, but it also hurt’s men as well. According to Kilbourne, “the negative and distorted image of women deeply affects not only how men feel about women, but also how men feel about everything that gets labeled feminine by the culture – qualities like compassion, cooperation, empathy, intuition, and sensitivity. Human beings should share the whole range of human qualities – strong and gentle, logical and intuitive, powerful and nurturing – and not be told one sex can have only one set of human qualities and one sex only the other.” There are many ways in which people do gender, and the media only offers one limited, heteronormative image. If you have the chance, watch the documentary. I highly recommend it.
To learn more check out:
I: Jean Kilbourne Killing US Softly videos easily found online.
II. Tough Guise: Violence, Media and the Crisis in Masculinity. View intro on You Tube.
III. Beyond Rhythm and Rhymes: Documentary that examines representations of gender roles in hip-hop and rap music
Massive thank you to Minna Kim for putting this whole event together and organizing the fundraiser to host the viewing!
For those who didn’t come, Minna organized BKB’s first ever women’s climb-a-thon as a fundraiser to host the film. It was awesome! Everyone who participated took shifts and rotated between climbing, belaying, and counting. Pretty much, each individual had to climb the wall as many times as they could in 30 min. Doing it on the auto-belay felt like doing wind sprints. Strongly recommend trying that for a cardio work out.