Film holds a mirror up
to the media’s misogyny.
by Cassandra Feliciano
The United States ranks 90th in the world in terms of women
in national government. A mere 3 percent of CEO suites at For-
tune 500 companies are occupied by women. Ditto for clout posi-
tions in the mainstream media. As troubling as these disparities
are, the aspect of gender inequality that saddens actress and
filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom most is people’s passive
reaction to it. “We’re all so busy that sometimes we just accept
the status quo and decide that it’s too hard of a fight to fight.”
In 2008 Newsom, ’96, MBA ’01, decided to walk the talk—in
stilettos, no less. Her documentary Miss Representation premiered
at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in January. The 90-minute film
explores how the barrage of stereotyped and sexualized media
portrayals sabotages young women’s self-esteem. It includes inter-
views with teenage girls as
well as influential figures
in politics, business and
the media including Sen.
Dianne Feinstein, ’ 55, Condoleezza Rice, Google’s Marissa Mayer,
’97, MS ’99, and television host Rachel Maddow, ’94.
Newsom, who gave birth to her first child in September 2009,
says her efforts are primarily dedicated to the girls of her daughter’s generation. She wants to replace the current lineup of life-sized Barbie role models with women whose self-worth is based
on more than just their physical appearance. A condensed version
of the film with curricula for K- 12 was released in May. The final
version will air on the Oprah Winfrey Network in the fall. n
CALL TO ACTION: Newsom, center,
on set with Carol Jenkins, president
of the Women’s Media Center.
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