By Myrtha O., age 16 and Camille C., age 17
As WriteGirl interns this summer, we were presented with a very interesting job: planning a screening for Miss Representation, a film written, directed and produced by Jennifer Siebel. The documentary is about the underrepresentation of women in mainstream media, and WriteGirl interns and staff feel strongly that it’s an important (especially since many young women are taught to look up to the warped, negative images) message for girls our program to learn about.
Upon receiving this momentous job we were anxious and a little overwhelmed but our excitement kept us going. We created two groups: the logistics team and the coordination team. The logistics team was responsible for writing the invitation, creating an introduction powerpoint and presenting the movie while the coordination team was in charge of the screening budget, the food, the music, and decorations.
We only had one week to really plan and execute the movie screening. We acted fast and focused on the task at hand. Some of us felt hesitant but others felt extremely confident, which made a good balance within our planning committee.
As part of the logistics committee, my team members and I worked hard to advertise the screening in a way that would interest people in what seems like a ‘typical documentary.’ After two days of editing, we finally sent out the invitation to graduating seniors and alumni. We were excited about filling the office with girls, but we were also nervous that we wouldn’t get enough people to come and learn about this important issue.
We also wanted to create a way to get everyone to start thinking as soon as they arrived. We created a short icebreaker assignment with questions asking for their thoughts and opinions. We wanted them to think about and answer complex issues: such as “how are women portrayed in the media?” and “are men and women really treated equally”?
But wait there’s more! We also put together a simple slideshow with images that portrayed women both positively and negatively. However, we realized it was difficult finding positive images of women. From this we discovered how media has a skewed image of us as weak or, even more appalling, as sexual objects; and unfortunately, the majority of the images were negative. Although we had not watched the movie yet, we already understood the message the filmmakers were trying to convey.
Before we knew it, it was 2PM on July 17th and people were arriving at the WriteGirl office. We were both nervous and excited for the event, and after all the planning we couldn’t wait to see the film ourselves. Finally, we got the show started. We (Camille and Myrtha) started off by welcoming everyone and then we proceeded with the slideshow. The room was silent while the images of models, cartoon characters, and disney princesses played. We looked out at the audience and wondered what everyone was thinking; we were curious about their opinions and hoped they were seeing what we intended them to see.
Finally, we screened the film. Some people giggled at scenes, others shook their heads, disappointed that society still scrutinizes accomplished women based upon their appearances. After the movie, we had a discussion guided by Naomi and Shiloy, members of the WriteGirl team. We talked about why women in media are rarely portrayed in powerful roles (ie senator or president) while men are always imbued with a sense of power and dominance in movies, TV shows and video games. We also discussed the ways in which the media’s portrayal of women as sex figures has affected our lives.
Miss Representation opened our eyes to the reality that we are being misrepresented in the mass media and in society. Due to this film, we hope to continue to spread this idea with our friends and how we invest our money. We realized that if enough people stop spending money on things that negatively represent women hopefully media will stop downgrading women and begin to create strong, independent women.
To learn more about Miss Representation, click here.