Recently a new documentary was brought to San Lorenzo Valley High School. This film by Jennifer Siebel Newsom called Miss Representation brings attention to the way women are mistreated and misrepresented in the media. It also talks about the focus on how women’s and girl’s values lie in their beauty, youth, and sexuality, and not in their brain. Miss Representation first premiered at Sundance Film Festival in the documentary competition where it caught the eye of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. It has now been played to millions of viewers.
Sponsored by the Cougar Parents Club, Miss Representation premiered in the Performing Arts Center and was free to attend with an RSVP, and quickly sold out. The principal Mrs. Van Putten and Juniors Maddie Stein and Tyler Staton got up before the film began and said a few words about what this film meant to them and how it has affected their lives. The film brought up many good points, focusing on many different aspects of women in the media. One of these major points was how women are treated as newscasters, and how people tend to look at their bodies instead of listening to their words. Not only are there very few women in the newscaster business, but when there is they are being judged not on the news, but on the way they are dressed. Junior Shelby Jones stated that “It has a really good message and it is really necessary for a lot of people to hear about gender stereotypes and the sexism that still exists because some people think that it died out a long time ago.”
The second major point the film brought up was the absence of women in politics. America has never seen a women president. The main candidates have been Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton who have been either sexualized or put down because of the way they look, talk, and act. This documentary showed how sexualized and objectified women are in the media, and gave ways to stop it by finding healthy role models and also by buying products from companies that have non-sexist practices and policies.
After the film was over, there was a panel comprised of three women: An SLVHS graduate and Sonoma State student Sarah Townsend, the first woman to surf Mavericks, Sarah Gerhardt, and Jen O’Brien-Rojo, a mother and activist. These three women were asked questions by the crowd, each with a very insightful answer to each question. “Having a panel for questions afterwards was good because it actually got the audience involved. A lot of people had something to say or ask and that kind of input is important because to achieve gender equality we need to get everyone involved.” said Shelby Jones.
Miss Representation is giving women inspiration and motivation to change the world. It reminds women that they are not objects or perfect, but that they are intelligent and beautiful just the way they are. This is not just a challenge for women, but also for men. The next chapter in The Representation Project put on at SLV shows how hard it is for boys and men to stay true to themselves with America’s definition of masculinity and what it means to be a man with a film called The Mask You Live In which premiers on May 25th in the Performing Arts Center.
By Emma Zilge