I wrote a few weeks ago about the thought-provoking documentary, Miss Representation, which was shown at the Houses of Parliament recently and which is developing into a powerful voice in America today. When you visit the site, www.missrepresentation.org, you are given the opportunity to sign a pledge to ‘challenge the media’s limiting portrayal of women and girls’, and when you do, you receive each week an insightful email with a particular focus and point of action related to the cause, which I have personally found inspiring.
This week’s email focused on the outrage experienced by many Americans who are attuned to this issue of the objectification of women when they saw this month’s edition of the Sports Illustrated magazine, which was subtitled ‘The Swimsuit Issue’ and – as one might have guessed from this title – featured heavily pictures of women models in swimwear. The approach taken by the people behind the movement of Miss Representation, however, is to turn this into an opportunity, and so they came up with an action point, as follows:
‘This week’s action is to have a conversation with the men and boys in our lives. We know that most men do not want to intentionally demean and devalue women in this way, and that education is the key to shifting behavior. So regardless of your gender, find time to sit down with a male loved one this week and discuss the effect that female objectification in mainstream culture is having on all of us. Encourage them to join you in Getting Healthy and consuming media that uplifts women instead of limiting them.’
Wise advice – and absolutely the right way to go if we are to move forward. Images of unrealistically shaped, so-called ‘perfect’ women and girls in sexualised poses bombard us – and our children – from every angle. We have grown so used to them that we overlook the power they have to alter (and damage) our view of women in real life. We have to look again, take stock, and decide that we will not allow them to distort the ideas our daughters especially have of how women should look and act. Men and women – take part in this action and help make a difference!