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Provoking Discussion

It isn't difficult to think of a provocative media image of women.  Yet the Miss Representation film, which screened on January 29, 2013 in Ketner Auditorium, was a provocative film highlighting the media's role in perpetuating narrow views of women, according to moderator Dr. Alexis Carreiro.

 "When you see it in the film format...it becomes blatant," the visiting Knight School of Communication professor said. "We just take for granted that women are often valued more on the way that they look and not on what they do and what they contribute to society."

 Miss Representation, a film written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

"Girl power" is a popular concept, but it doesn't equal real power, she said.  Noting, for example, there are only 18 women out of 100 United States senators.

Perhaps its because the phenomenon of representing women primarily as stupid, sexy, or strident is not new.  In fact it was the history department's Dr. Suzanne Cooper-Guasco who first proposed showing the film at Queens.

"Certainly, it is not a strictly 'history' thing," said Cooper-Guasco.  It's also not only a woman thing.  "There is a parallel issue for men - an ideal male is likewise offered in the public media that defines a masculine ideal that is also difficult for the average young man to meet." 

The 90-minute film sponsored by the Knight School's honor society, Lamba Pi Eta, was followed by an audience discussion. According to Knight School community coordinator Jennifer Hull, "to be a media literate community, you have to understand who is creating the images, what are they trying to say, question the accuracy, and ask yourself what can you do if you do not agree with what the media is portraying."

Carrerio knew the film might "make some people feel very uncomfortable." She's OK with that. "That's how self reflection works.  It's part of the learning process."

"I hope that students and community members had one or more 'aha moments' and understood it critically and intellectually, but also in their guts.  We can do better - and be - better.  I hope this film and our discussion afterward helped everyone see that."

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