Women and the Media: You Can't Be What You Can't See
Back in October, we wrote about Jennifer Siebel Newsom's powerful new documentary Miss Representation. The film premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and has since aired a few times on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.
Newsom spoke today at TEDWomen about the effect that the media's portrayal of women has on our daughters.
"We raise our daughters to manipulate their bodies and our sons to master their environment," she said. “It’s innocent acts that send subliminal messages to our daughters and our sons about what they can or cannot be."
She cited an example from her own life - one year, when choosing Halloween get-ups for her two children, she decided to go with animal costumes.
"Guess what I chose? A lamb for my daughter and a lion for my son."
The problem, according to Newsom, is that women can't be what they can't see.
For example, 97 percent of media decisions are made by men - which means that 97 percent of what you watch, read and hear comes from the male perspective.
"That's wrong. It's wrong because media creates culture," she said. "This is serious and this is dangerous. We all should be appalled."
So what can we do to bring about change? First of all, as 86% of consumers, women can vote with their wallets. And secondly, Newsom encourages us to remember that we are all in a relationship with media, and like any good relationship, we're only going to get out what we put in.
"There's too much at stake to not consume responsibly," she said in closing. "Lets demand a media culture that uplifts us, that encourages our daughters to want to be President. It's up to us, but it requires action and it requires it now."
For more information on Miss Representation, visit the film's website here.