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Did the Media Fail Women in 2013? Ask The Representation Project

By January 16, 2014 8 Comments

The newest viral video making its way around my Facebook feed is, “How the Media Failed Women in 2013,” a sobering three-and-a-half-minute compilation of media moments that drive one point home: the representation of women in the media isn’t changing fast enough.

[media url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NswJ4kO9uHc”]

“How the Media Failed Women in 2013” recaps the highlights and lowlights of women in the media this year.

It starts by celebrating the successes: Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai is getting her voice heard, films and TV shows featuring female leads doing well at the box office and in ratings, and ads for products like Goldieblox are going viral.

However, for 30 seconds of positivity, the video features three minutes of negative representations of women. Women continue to be sexualized and denigrated in ads (of course, the usual suspects like Carl’s Jr and American Apparel are represented here), music videos (Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake), films, video games, magazines, sports, politics.

As if that’s not enough, we are also accused of “deserving to be raped” in a culture that still largely values men over women.

It’s enough to make you seethe with rage, isn’t it?

Image from The Representation Project Website. "You Can

Image from the Representation Project Website

The video was made by The Representation Project, a “movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change.”

This movement began once filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom created Miss Representation, a film that exposes the underrepresentation of women and girls in mainstream media, and the impact this has on our culture in general. Siebel Newsom created The Representation Project as a way to encourage people to take action to change the stereotypes that limit our culture.

The newest project from The Representation Project is The Mask You Live In, a film that turns the spotlight on the experience of boys. The film explores representations of American masculinity, and how boys are influenced by various cultural forces that limit their means of expression.

As someone with a young son, I will definitely be watching that.

Tessa Needham finished her PhD in Performing Arts at the University of Western Sydney (Australia) in 2008. Her thesis explored the potential of performance to provoke change, and part of her research was Bodily, a solo theatrical performance about body image. She loves technology and the creative arts, and is passionate about the different cultural forces affecting the body image of girls and women. She teaches computers and does freelance creative work: www.tessaneedham.com.