About-Face BlogAdvertisingBody ImageChange-makersOn The PulseSexualization

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

By January 16, 2014 25 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.


  • Werone says:

    Every topic chosen is about rage/anger/disappointment and a serious negative attitude towards what the authors deem are significant values for women. This in itself is troubling…. How are you going to control the behavior of others? I hope your readers know that the only behavior we can control is our own, and to be happy with that. Can someone write an inspiring story without the agenda? How are you going to control the media? The media caters to audiences, as you cater to yours. About-face is media and you have your audience so stop your negative judgement on other audiences.

  • Tessa Needham says:

    Hi Werone,

    I actually thought this was a positive piece about an important movement. How did you think it had a negative attitude? How did it judge other audiences negatively?

    We write about a lot of positive stories as well as the negative, though unfortunately, as the video above shows, there are currently a lot more negative representations of women in the media than positive ones.

    We don’t aim to control the media. We aim to educate and to provide girls and women with tools to understand and resist the media messages we are constantly receiving. This is a change within ourselves, not within the media.


  • Werone says:

    Hi Tessa,

    The title quickly sets the mood for the article, and like many other articles in the blog, has a war on media agenda. The blog is about women and media , I understand that, but it seems to cause many women to judge other women by what they choose. Unintended consequences. Every woman’s ideals and values are different, and In my opinion, we should teach respect for people and their choices. I want men and women to be different, we are different. We are different, but in no way do those differences make one weaker to the other. Many people make a living targeting an audience, why judge them? Instead of resisting the media, talk about the freedom in our choices, the respect for others and their choices, teach debate without the need to demonize those that are the target audience of those ads. If I don’t like someone’s ideas then I say so and move on, I don’t say I’m better than anyone else because of my choices. A happy mother, sister, girlfriend or wife is my agenda. Peace is my goal. I am an American, I don’t feel nor have I ever felt that it was my culture to value men over women. Men and women are sexualized in the media, as they are in relationships, and women’s sexuality is not negative. Nor is men’s. Seething rage is not healthy, passion is healthy. Anger has no positive qualities. I for one don’t want the women in my life to think that the world will limit them in anyway, and a stupid commercial or ad will not deter me from voicing the truth…the self evident truth that the limits of our abilities are where we place them ourselves.

  • Tessa Needham Synnott says:

    Hi Werone,

    I’m troubled that you think I’m judging other women or demonizing the target audience of ads. Where have I done this?

    You seem to be blessed with the ability to look critically at the representation of women in the media, and recognize that it is not representative of all women in actual life. Many girls and women, and many readers of this blog, do not have this very important ability. It is so important to be literate about what messages we are getting from the media.

    You say that you want to teach respect, and I wholeheartedly agree with you. In my opinion, the negative examples shown in the video do not respect women.

    However, I do disagree with you that anger has no positive qualities. History has shown us time and again that anger can be a necessary step to galvanize change, either in ourselves or in society.

  • Werone says:

    That you seeth with rage at the media, the ads depicting some woman’s choice to look a certain way, act a certain way. That is her choice.

    Anger does not change us in positive ways. Passion changes us in positive ways. If you want to win a war against someone with anger then that is easier than fighting someone who is passionate. If you allow yourself to be angry, you take away your ability to reason, to be level headed. If we all want peace then those things we are passionate about get done in the right way and with our histories lessons. Anger just has you swinging, passion has you winning. Cheers!

  • Tessa Needham says:

    Did you watch the video? Many of the examples aren’t about women choosing to do anything.

    It seems like you are making a semantic argument between anger and passion.

    Thanks for your thoughts. I can see that we are going to have to agree to disagree!

  • […] by the truly amazing film Miss Representation – compiled a sobering video montage titled How the Media Failed Women in 2013. Lots of disappointment, but some triumphs are highlighted, […]

  • sophie says:

    Thank you. We all need to challenge the media and our culture. Our current society is inhumane to women and girls.

  • lucien says:

    You are my intake, I possess few blogs and very sporadically run out from post :). “Never mistake motion for action.” by Ernest Hemingway.

  • online loans no credit loan applications payday loans without checks [url=https://creditloansguaranteedapproval.com]credit loans guaranteed approval[/url]

  • poor credit loans guaranteed approval no credit loans credit loans guaranteed approval [url=https://creditloansguaranteedapproval.com]bad credit loans guaranteed approval[/url]

  • naturally like your website but you have to check the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues and I find it very bothersome to tell the truth nevertheless I’ll definitely come back again.

  • lucien says:

    Great – I should certainly pronounce, impressed with your web site. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs and related information ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it at all. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or something, website theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Nice task.

  • I’m extremely inspired with your writing skills and also with the format on your weblog. Is this a paid subject or did you customize it yourself? Either way stay up the excellent high quality writing, it is uncommon to peer a nice blog like this one these days..

  • legitimate payday loan companies credit loans bad credit loans [url=https://creditloansguaranteedapproval.com/]credit loans guaranteed approval[/url]

  • hey there and thank you for your information – I have definitely picked up anything new from right here. I did however expertise several technical issues using this website, as I experienced to reload the website many times previous to I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your web host is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and could damage your high-quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I am adding this RSS to my email and can look out for a lot more of your respective fascinating content. Make sure you update this again very soon..

  • Very interesting topic, appreciate it for putting up. “Ok. Sex is fine. Sex is good. Sex is GREAT Okay, okay, we need men for sex… Do we need so many” by Sybil Adelman.

  • Good info. Lucky me I reach on your website by accident, I bookmarked it.

  • What i do not understood is in fact how you’re not actually a lot more neatly-appreciated than you might be now. You’re very intelligent. You understand thus significantly in the case of this topic, produced me for my part believe it from numerous various angles. Its like women and men are not interested until it’s something to do with Woman gaga! Your own stuffs nice. Always care for it up!

  • What i don’t realize is actually how you are not really much more well-liked than you might be right now. You are very intelligent. You realize therefore significantly relating to this subject, made me personally consider it from a lot of varied angles. Its like men and women aren’t fascinated unless it is one thing to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your own stuffs excellent. Always maintain it up!

  • here says:

    wonderful points altogether, you simply gained a brand new reader. What would you suggest in regards to your post that you made some days ago? Any positive?

  • Hey there this is kinda of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • website says:

    Its such as you learn my mind! You seem to know a lot approximately this, like you wrote the e book in it or something. I think that you simply could do with some to force the message home a little bit, but instead of that, that is wonderful blog. A fantastic read. I will definitely be back.

  • After study a number of of the blog posts in your web site now, and I really like your means of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website checklist and might be checking back soon. Pls take a look at my site as nicely and let me know what you think.

  • I was just looking for this information for some time. After six hours of continuous Googleing, finally I got it in your site. I wonder what is the lack of Google strategy that do not rank this type of informative sites in top of the list. Normally the top sites are full of garbage.

Leave a Reply