“It’s hard to escape the media because it’s everywhere…It is stripping us of humanity.”
– Brookdale History Professor Jane Scimeca.
During a panel discussion of the film Miss Representation, which tackles the scorn that is perpetuated against women through mainstream media, professors Meg Natter, Roseanne Alvarez, Jane Scimeca, and Executive Director of Brookdale Television, Cheryl Cummings, provided insight on how the media negatively portrays women and what we can do to counter the impact. Although only segments of the film were shown to students during the discussion, it was enough to create a sense of awareness and to challenge participants to think critically about the messages that the media conveys to girls and boys growing up today.
In the film, Dr. Jean Kilbourne, an advocate for women, explained that from an early age girls get the message that their appearance is what’s most important; that their value and worth depends on beauty. At the same time, boys are also led to think that girls should be objects of desire. According to the documentary, the core of mainstream media is subjecting a young generation to these negative images and reflecting them as cultural norms.
A trope has been created in media that has shaped all aspects of American culture, even politics. Alvarez called this the process of objectification. “Both men and women are objectified,” she said, drawing attention to the fact that women and men are both exploited for the purpose of making money. “U.S advertisers spent $235.6 billion in 2009,” is an alarming statistic from the film that raised the issue of advertisements and their impact. Most media get their revenues from advertising. So, the same images that objectify women and men are profitable for these media industries and all of their advertisers.
Cummings pointed out the importance of teaching children from a young age to accept who they are and to not buy in to a false perception. This is something that Audrey Moschberger, a high school senior, spoke about in relation to what is perceived as the perfect women. Barbie dolls, for example, are not proportioned realistically; “If she were a real person, her waist would be 18 inches and her neck would be four inches,” explaining that this is an impossible standard of beauty.
The movie Miss Representation was written, directed, and produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Its purpose is to change this false representation of women in mainstream media so women leaders can be appreciated for their intelligence and not just their appearance, while also teaching the youth about this problem in America.
If you want to be a part of the movement, visit www.missrepresentation.org
This lecture was sponsored by the History and Political Science Club. For more information on this club, contact the club advisor, Professor Jonathan Moschberger, at email@example.com or call 732-224-2321.
By: Anna Blaine, Brookdale student worker, College Relations
Pictured from left: Donna Kosenko, President, History and Political Science Club: English Instructor Meg Natter, History Professor Jane Scimeca, English Professor Roseanne Alvarez, Aubrey Moschberger, Political Science Professor and History and Political Science Club Advisor Jonathan Moschberger, .