On Monday March 19 Salt Lake Community College’s Grand Theatre hosted a free special screening of the documentary Miss Representation as a kickoff event for the University of Utah’s Women’s Week.
Miss Representation is a documentary film that premiered at the 2011 Sundance film festival and describes how women are underrepresented and objectified in the media as seen in films, politics, advertising and television.
This event was organized in partnership with the University of Utah, Smart Women In Marketing (SWIM) and The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), organizations that help encourage and mentor women in business.
“I was thrilled that the Grand Theatre was packed,” said SLCC’s President Cynthia Bioteau, who was in attendance at this event. “What is so alarming to me is the almost insidious brainwashing that media engages in to objectify and belittle women. But I think it’s just as hard on young men. I think it’s a problem for both men and women.”
Over 500 students, teachers, business professionals, mothers, daughters, and husbands attended this event.
The film’s executive director, Geralyn Dreyfous, made a special appearance at the event and answered questions about the film afterward.
- America is ranked 90th in the world with women in the national legislatures
- Women comprise only 3% of Fortune 500 CEO’s
- By the age of 15, 78% of girls hate their bodies
- 65% of American women and girls have an eating disorder
- 25% of American women have been abused by a partner during their lifetime
- America has some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy compared to the rest of the Western world
Educated and empowered
The purpose of this event was to engage people and encourage them to become aware of the impact that the media has on shaping and forming opinions and thought.
With March being National Women’s History Month, this year’s theme is Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment. The overall sentiment of this event was that the more women and people are educated the more empowered they are.
“I loved the line in the film [that said], next to your vote your consumer dollars are the most important way to express your voice, that’s the next loudest way you have a voice in our society,” said Diane Weaver, a senior marketing manager in advertising. “It’s like organic food; we wouldn’t have organic grocery stores if people hadn’t made that choice with their dollars.”
According to statistics in the movie, the average American teen spends over 10 hours a day consuming media through television, movies, magazines and online content. That is more time than is spent in the classrooms.
“You can’t be what you can’t see”
After the screening a party was held across the street at Piper Down Pub to further the discussion and help women to network with other women. Many women who attended the gathering afterward felt anger and outrage over the media’s portrayal of women and the effects it has had on them.
“You can’t be what you can’t see,” said Raina Vego, a SLCC student sharing a quote from the movie. “As a community we need to really invest in our students because all that it is going to promote is positive effects on our society as a whole. It’s a ripple effect.”
Vego also commented on the film’s statement that the average American woman spends $12,000 per year on cosmetic surgeries and on trying to look like media’s definition of the perfect woman.
“$12,000 a year [on their looks], I would never spend that. That’s four years at a community college. But because you think that in order to exist in this world you have to act, look, think and smell like this,” said Vego, pointing to the nearest beauty ad. “We are just consuming what’s being fed to us.”
The film pointed out how women are bombarded with images of a definition of beauty that is marketed to sell products. This marketing strategy leaves girls with unreal expectations of their outward appearances causing depression when they should be developing their minds and talents.
Furthering our hegemonic society, the media influences and shapes the way people think, vote, buy and consume.
“It’s really just being aware what we are subjecting ourselves to in the media,” said MaryPat Kavanagh, president of NAWBO and coordinator of this event. “What we subject ourselves to and allow our children to be subjected to as well.”