Documentary examines women’s questionable roles within mass media

The Benes Rooms were filled with frequent gasping, shaking of heads and laughing last Monday.
As part of celebration of Women’s History Month, “Miss Representation,” a documentary about gender inequality, was shown to students. Men and women filled the Benes Rooms to view the film.
Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Miss Representation exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel empowered.
Sophomore Rachel Tallmadge was one of the students who planned the screening.
“I have always been interested in gender equality,” she said. “This film addressed many issues with gender equality and supported them with facts.”
Tallmadge said she was amazed by movements the documentary has sparked across the country.
“The action and attention that this film has caused really sparked my interest to get involved,” she said.
Stories from teenage girls and provocative interviews with politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists and academics (including Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem) voiced their opinions and shocking statistics were presented.
Senior Michael Raszmann said he really enjoyed the film and what he liked the most was the political dialogue explained.
“I like how they made the very clear distinction between the pragmatic rise of the media and sexism through capitalism, they made that very distinct,” Raszmann said.
Junior Clare Whitaker said she thought the documentary was fascinating.
“I thought some of the things they brought out were so true, one of the biggest points was the idea that half of the population doesn’t support the other half,” she said.
Whitaker said it is amazing how men never watch the things that women are in, which portray women as protagonists – a point that was stressed throughout the film
“I feel like, after watching this, it’s so important for women to watch it and learn to be confident and learn to be individuals, but I think men should also view this and embrace it because they need to understand the same things as women,” she said.
Senior Ann Merrell, who helped plan the screening along with Tallmadge, said she is going to be more critical of the way the media portrays women.
“I am someone who loves chick flicks and fairytales, but I think it is important to remember the effect that those kinds of stories and films have on women and their image of themselves,” she said.
“I think that we know that stripper scenes degrade women, but also these fairytales where women are powerless and need a man are also very harmful. So I am going to pay attention to that,” Merrell said.
Tallmadge said she was really excited that a lot of people showed up and came to this house project.
“I think it sends an important message to the campus,” she said. “The action doesn’t stop here. I hope people are inspired by this to spread the message.”
“We are still discussing how to keep the action going,” said Merrell.
She said she is hoping the communities she is a part of will be open to dialogue about the representation of women in the media.
“I want to give members of the Ohio Wesleyan community a chance to get involved in the beginning of this wave of change and education,” said Tallmadge.

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