Miss Representation at Bklyn Museum Tonight
The Brooklyn Museum is screening an amazing documentary tonight. You should definitely see it if there are any seats left. I had a chance to look at a screener a couple of weeks ago and it really opened my eyes.
Miss Representation is a pan of cold water in the face of those who have forgotten or not noticed that the Women’s Movement has been stalled for about three decades. Yes, women have attained many high offices: Secretary of State, National Security Adviser, the Supreme Court, etc, but the numerical inadequacy of those inroads can be shown up in a heartbeat when you hear facts like America ranks 90th in the world for female representation in its national legislature. 17% of Congress is female, hardly proportional to the population. There are only a couple of hundred nations in the world – who’s behind us, Saudi Arabia??? And, likewise, in the media (the real subject of this documentary), a scant 3% of the powerful corporate positions are held by women. Yes, we see plenty of female actors and newscasters and so forth, but the really powerful positions….the CEOs, the heads of news divisions, the programming directors, etc etc, are held by men.
Director Jennifer Siebel Newsom does a convincing job of laying out the equation of why this is dangerous. I remember back in the early 1990s, flipping through the channels, landing on the Fox network and asking myself, “Why is there a bimbo delivering the news?” (Believe it or not, young people, it wasn’t formerly the practice to give news readers sex appeal , i.e., they shouldn’t be expected to dress in lingerie). Ideally they’re presenting us with facts that help us make informed choices about our lives, not making us pant like wolves. Okay, making me pant like a wolf).
With men making all the programming decisions, and basing those decisions on the preferences of 18-34 year old males (based on market data), the images of women that get propagated are generally pretty heinous. Just as with the outrage at Rush’s recent comments, this is an issue that really shouldn’t split us down a male-female fault line. A) Because most males have women in their lives they are rooting for and want to succeed; and B) The images of men being perpetuated by the media are almost as heinous in some arenas as the images of women. Men are taught to be violent; women are taught to aspire to be nothing more than objects of desire. These are the values of the Dark Ages; they are contrary conditioning for life in a democratic society. (Uh, reasoned debate, compromise, listening to the needs and opinions of other people?)
Neither is it a left/ right issue, at least not any more. To prove it, Newsome got Condoleeze Rice and Susan Molinari in the film, to talk about their struggles to be taken seriously as leaders. (There’s some serious star power in the film. Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson, Gena Davis and Gloria Steinem are just some of the others. )
Along with the alarming statistics, you learn about a series of unfortunate court decisions that eroded the television network’s previous legal obligation to the public interest. Whenever you ask yourself, “When did television get so mean-spirited, ugly, vile, moronic, exploitive, and nasty?” now you have your answer.
Anyway, I can’t recommend this film highly enough. Tonight’s screening will be hosted by one of the film’s advisors, Jennifer L. Pozner, founder and executive director of media analysis, education, and advocacy group Women In Media & News.
It’s in the Brooklyn Museum’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium, 3rd Floor at 7pm. As space is limited, advance ticket purchase for general admission and entrance to the screening is recommended via www.museumtix.com. Members receive free admission; please call the Membership Hotline at (718) 501-6326 for reservations.
And to find our more about the film, including future screenings (and other ways to get a copy) of the film go here.