Chapman’s chapter of Alpha Phi, Panhellenic as a whole, and the organization I Am That Girl hosted a screening of the incredibly empowering and thought-provoking documentary “Miss Representation” this afternoon. Absolutely elated, filled with joy, and bursting to share what I had learned with others, I quickly texted one of my closest friends to go watch it. The conversation goes something like this:
Me: “Hey! Go watch the documentary ‘Miss Representation’ it’s amazing!”
Him: “It’s about women empowerment?”
Him: “I’m not a lady so I’m not inspired.”
This reaction epitomizes the issue the documentary addresses – gender equality pertains to our entire society.
For those of you unfamiliar with the documentary, it essentially addresses all of the major gender issues in today’s society. From unequal pay to the lack of female CEOs to the media’s incredibly biased coverage of women to the sexual objectification of women in rap/hip-hop videos, this film covers it all. Not only is it a call to action, it’s a call back to reality. It asks the questions, “Why are we okay with what is happening?” “When will somebody take a stand?” “How is this STILL an issue?”
“Miss Representation” explores the effect mainstream media has on the under-representation of women in America – especially those in influential positions. It challenges the limiting image of women the media portrays. It illustrates how difficult it is as young women to be strong, independent, and powerful when all we see are conflicting images in the media. Watch the trailer for the film here:
I left the screening of this documentary buzzing with excitement and encouragement. I suddenly began re-thinking all of my life choices and reconsidering my career path. As somebody studying public relations and advertising as well as marketing, I have always been highly aware of the issue of women being objectified and misrepresented in the media. However, I had never taken the time to consider how this would effect my future career choice. I need to find a way to channel my passion and expertise into something productive and beneficial to society. As Katie Couric (a personal role model of mine) eloquently describes, “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.” We see this every day whether we watch E! News as our guilty pleasure, scan BBC’s website each morning, scroll through Twitter while waiting in line at the pharmacy, or listen to the radio at work: the media has the power to influence society in incredibly destructive and beneficial ways. This documentary highlights the destructive tendency the media has to destroy our self-worth and diminish our role in society. I know that I must find a way to channel my skills into something that turns this theory on its head and further empowers women (and all under-represented people!). I’m not sure what that is yet, but I know now that is my new focus and anchoring point.
Another aspect of this documentary that really hit home was the concept of women perpetuating these negative images and feelings towards women in our society. We constantly compete against one another to fit men’s ideal and further ourselves. What we don’t realize is that by consistently putting each other down, it sends a message to men that it is acceptable to think of women this way. Instead of competing against each other, we need to be encouraging mentors and role models to each other – lifting our peers higher. The only way any change will happen is if we all work together to be the best versions of ourselves possible.
A girl in our discussion offered up the simple first step of avoiding the word “bitch” for a week. This word often describes assertive women in power such as Hillary Clinton or Condoleezza Rice – dehumanizing them and diminishing their power. If we work on eliminating that word from our vocabulary, we will be less likely to contribute to this problem. If we also stand up to people we hear perpetuating these negative terms and tearing down women, we will also show our solidarity – making us stronger as a whole.
Another simple way we can help each other is to seek out female mentors. We can learn so much from each other, why not take advantage of it? Instead of feeling competitive with the woman who has a better internship than you and then talking badly behind her back, ask her out to coffee and seek advice on how she was able to get such a great internship. It’s so simple, yet we rarely do it.
Overall, I was so impressed and inspired by “Miss Representation.” I need to take a step back myself and really pay attention to what I’m doing to help resolve this issue. I also need to figure out how my career path can benefit society more and how I can direct my life into a more positive path.
I feel incredibly blessed to be part of a community that appreciates these messages and encourages participation in social justice movements. I can’t wait to see where we go from here!
For more information: