Students and faculty called for contemporary challenge to gender stereotypes after a screening of “Miss Representation,” a documentary about media’s portrayal of women.
After the film, a panel comprised of Linfield faculty and the Yamhill County Commissioner led a discussion about practical ways to reject negative representation of women.
Dr. Nick Buccola, assistant professor of Political Science, Dr. Dawn Nowacki, professor of Political Science and Dr. Jennifer Linder, associate professor of Psychology comprised the panel, augmented by guest panelist Yamhill County Commissioner Mary Stern; the panel was moderated by Reshmie Dutt–Ballerstadt, associate professor of English and co-coordinator of the Gender Studies Program.
“[It’s a] fact that media is so derogatory to the most powerful women in the country. What does [that] say about media’s ability to take any woman in America seriously?” said Jennifer Pozner, executive director of Women in Media and News, who was featured in the documentary “Miss Representation.”
Stern stressed the importance of redefining the role of women in all areas of life, from politics to education.
“We can’t sit by and let the media dictate to us what’s important in our lives… and I think this movie is…a great first step for all of us to begin with discussion,” Stern said.
Directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, “Miss Representation” attempts to demonstrate how mainstream media contributes to the underrepresentation of women, especially regarding positions of power.
Amy Orr, associate professor of Sociology and co-coordinator of the Gender Studies Porgram, along with Dr. Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt, organized Tuesday’s event in an effort to jump start the Gender Studies minor.
“We’re hoping we will revive interest in gender studies. These are things that people suffer through in silence…if we can at least start talking about it, something will change” said Orr.
It was a highly collaborative event, as students and faculty have been working since January Term to host a screening of the
documentary. One student in particular brought “Miss Representation” to the attention of faculty.
“I’ve had a fascination with the media and its effects on politics… and this documentary was right up my alley…I immediately emailed my advisor … to start working on an event,” said junior Amber Hay, who discovered the documentary through Facebook.
Since the 90-minute film was released at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, there has been unprecedented support to their cause. Not only does “Miss Representation” have six non-profit partners working with them, but their documentary has also been aired on the “OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network”.
Oprah Winfrey isn’t the only influential woman who has been moved by the film. In fact, numerous influential women took part in creating the film, including Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Margaret Cho, and Gloria Steinem.
However, this wasn’t an event exclusively for women,
“For both men and women…gender constrains us…and it has consequences,” said Orr.
Dr. Linder hopes that consequences will diminish as people become educated about what MissRepresentation.org calls, “the cycle of mistruths” created by the media.
“[We need] media literacy as much as we need to read,” Linder said.
Associate Professor of Mass Communication Lisa Weidman, who was present at the screening, assures that there is curriculum available if students want to be more media literate.
“Take Introduction to Mass Communications,” she said.
For more information, go to www.misrepresentation.org.
“It’s not exclusively a war on women, but it is a war on gender,” said Dutt- Ballerstadt.
Chrissy Shane/Staff writer
Chrissy Shane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org