Inspired by the words of Jennifer Siebel Newsom, director of the film Miss Representation, I wanted to bring to light the increase in women’s positive representation in the media. I am proud to be part of the ever growing culture of women that are vocal about women’s misrepresentation in the media and how it affects our consciousness as a whole. Addressing the root reasons and solutions on how the media stereotypes and categorizes women “into boxes” that hinder our agency in society. This is an issue of gender inequality that is crucial to women worldwide.
Aimed at changing the status quo of patriarchy and sexism existing in the media, Newsom raises surprising statistics “where in leadership less than 18% of women [are]… in positions of leadership despite being 51% of the US population and despite giving birth to 100% of the population.” We as women should recognize our power as citizens and consumers, especially with the fact that in the US and similar stats worldwide, women are 86% of consumers and are active members of the global economy. Using this to our advantage, we have the power to strategically challenge and change this status quo. Media disempowers women by commodifying their bodies to sell their products ranging from magazines, to alcoholic beverages, to airline services and many other examples seen in advertisements. The same source of exploitation can also be a source of empowerment as represented by Geena Davis and her role in the movie A League of Their Own. She stated in Miss Representation that many young girls were approaching her and expressed how they began to join sports teams after watching her in the film. This proves that women in the media shown in an active and positive light can remind women of their potential in reality. This goes with the saying that we sometimes do not envision what we do not see. Her role in the film impacted the lives of many women and girls.
Increasing women’s agency is imperative in bridging the gap of gender inequality. I too have become an active producer using media by creating a short video with my fellow classmates that raises the problem and challenges women misrepresentation in the media. Blogs like feministteacher.com (that integrate feminist discourse and social justice in the education of elementary to high school students) and womensmediacenter.com work as outlets that highlight strong women leaders taking action in policy making, educational discourse, etc.
The media can be used to challenge the status quo, it just depends on where you are looking.