Ladies, take a minute to think back about what you wanted to be when you grew up.
What images of women represented a desirable future for you?
Did early exposures to media display strong, capable, intelligent women?
Or were you lured into thinking in order to be successful (and desirable) as a woman you had to be voluptuous, thin, pretty and accommodating?
Because let’s face it.
You can’t be what you can’t see.
Imagining yourself, in a place where few women are visible, is hard for our minds to muster.
And when what you see, is misrepresented, your perceptions are skewed.
Altered. Biased. Misshapen.
Don’t believe me? We are 51% of the population, yet consider the following alarming statistics from the documentary Miss Representation.
- Women make up only 20% of Congress. (That means 80% are men.)
- Women comprise 9% of Directors and 15% of Film writers in the top-grossing 250 films.
- Women hold only 5% of clout positions in mainstream media.
- 85% of leadership positions in the most powerful industries are held by men.
- Only 24% of news articles are about women, and many of these stories are about violence and victimhood.
- Through media and advertising, boys get the message that they should be violent, in control, unemotional, and that women should be treated like objects and second class citizens.
- The number of cosmetic surgery procedures performed on youth 18 or younger more than tripled from 1997-2007.
If you are like me, these facts woke you up.
We may have made progress in gender equality Ladies, but we are seriously under-represented and misrepresented as strong, capable, intelligent contributors to our society.
Still not convinced?
The most common way people give up their power is to believe they don’t have any- Alice Walker.
Consider the following facts:
American teenagers spend 10 hours and 45 minutes a day consuming media. What are they seeing? Content that is shaping our society. And in that society, women are displayed as mostly objects of sexual desire to be consumed, used and discarded at will. Girls get the message very early on that they are judged and valued by how they look and boys get the message that this is what to be valued about girls. Just take a look at today’s popular films, television shows, video games and music videos…what do you see?
You can’t be what you can’t see.
I know. I get it.
We have all been suckered-in.
I, myself, pay an extraordinary amount of disposable income on hair, nails, clothes, and products marketed to make me look glamorous, younger, and as beautiful as I can be.
I am not suggesting you boycott your salon in the name of equality. If you enjoy it, and it makes you feel good, then do it. My concern is that we need to fight harder to be in positions that shape the stories that are told about who women are and what we stand for. We need to find a way to celebrate, illuminate, and honor women of substance, grit and fortitude. Women who are esteemed examples of HUMANS FIRST…women second. Judged on the content of their character, not the content of their skin products.
So what do we do?
- Women hold 86% of America’s purchasing power. Use that to champion good media and challenge bad media. Use the Miss Representation’s hashtag #NotBuyingIt on social media when observing disturbing media and advertising.
- Go see movies directed by women and staring women. Last year Wonder Woman made 821 Million dollars which was a powerful message to Hollywood about what sells.
- Awareness is the first step. Open up the conversation at your Book Club or Women’s group. Share the information and the movie. Knowledge is power.
- Consider taking the Gender Qualities Principle Assessment (www.genderprinciples.org). The principles can be used to eliminate gender discrimination in areas such as recruitment, hiring, pay and promotion.
- Start the conversation early with your kids. Boys and girls want to be President at equal percentages at the age of 7. This drops off exponentially by age 12. Why? Is it because it seems unobtainable? Not meant for a girl? These are the questions to be asking. The “Not-Enough” persecution of females needs to cease.
It is time to extinguish misrepresentation.
We are overdue.
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