SPARK starts a movement but Snooki steals the media spotlight

Once you go Gloria, you never go back. Steinem, that is.

I’ve always been aware that our culture seriously and routinely shortchanges females, but heading back to San Francisco from the first annual SPARK Summit (Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge) in New York City drove the point home like never before.

Just the previous night, I’d witnessed 76-year-old Gloria praise the brilliant young women we’d all seen speak their minds at SPARK (including About-Face‘s own former intern and all-around kick-ass woman, Melissa Campbell, who you can see in the video below). Gloria said we’d started a movement that day. And when Gloria Steinem says you’ve started a movement, you’ve started a movement.

But navigating my way through the airport at 6 AM the next morning, all I saw were tabloid covers splashed with photos of female celebs, accompanied by headlines about pregnancy bumps, rehab stints, failed marriages, and jail time. Sitting face-to-face with JetBlue’s Direct TV channels for six hours, I watched show after show about teen moms, club hoppers, and celebutantes celebrating super sweet sixteens.

Not to say these women aren’t deserving of success (after SPARK’s ultra-inspiring feminism fest, I’m ready to fight for the rights of all women — even the Snookis of the world), but where were the activists, the bloggers, the revolutionaries I’d witnessed in person? It was as if, despite my serious experience in media scrutiny for About-Face, I was just now noticing this gaping hole in our culture’s representation of women.

Look, there’s nothing I enjoy more than a mindless evening of Jersey Shore episodes or a lazy afternoon filled with tabloid features on “Who Wore it Best?” but it’s scary to think that the best and brightest women are still being shut out of the public eye in favor of catfights and upskirt paparazzi shots.

Head to the SPARK web site and study up on some of the awesome things females are doing in the world. Tell your friends. Follow in their footsteps. Gloria Steinem would appreciate it.

See Melissa and other awe-inspiring girl activists speak at the SPARK Summit below:

— Michelle Konstantinovsky is a student at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and an avid admirer of shiny objects and preteen entertainment. It would be nice if you visited her website: www.michellekmedia.com. Also, she may learn to use Twitter more effectively if you follow her @michelley415.

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