Students and faculty discuss gender stereotypes following “Miss Representation” film showing

On Wednesday, Nov. 19, Helen Fiegenschue, senior, hosted an open viewing of the documentary “Miss Representation,” followed by a discussion led by Katie Blevins, visiting assistant professor of communication.

Fiegenschue wanted to share the film with Trinity’s campus as an additive to the increasing discussion on gender stereotypes and other issues with women in particular.

“I feel like the issue of gender inequality, gender stereotyping, skewed gender roles, whatever you want to call it, began to receive a lot of attention over the past year or so,” Fiegenschue said. “Especially paired with debates and discussion on rape and consent, beauty standards, et cetera, the documentary seemed like such a fitting addition to the conversation.”

The film “Miss Representation” is a part of The Representation Project, which, according to their website, “is a movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change.”

The documentary stresses the importance of media literacy and understanding that the images portrayed in the media are manufactured, according to Fiegenschue.

“The images shown to women in the media about how women look””but not really because they have been photoshopped””are shocking,” said Outlwile Matome, junior. “They create an unattainable ideal, which is bad for self esteem, and as the documentary states, hinders many girls, teens and women from pursuing what they would like to because confidence in one’s self is paramount to the achievement of one’s personal goals.”

Matome would like to see women in the media portrayed for something other than beauty.

“We have the right to be shown more women in positions of power in the media, using their intellect and not only their beauty. Women are complex beings, with many facets to us. We need to stop being portrayed in such a one-dimensional way,” Matome said.

The film not only highlights the misrepresentation of women in the media but also points out the struggles of men.

“The film did raise a very important point about how this also negatively impacts men because now they have an unattainable, unhealthy image of  masculinity that they are sold and made to feel inadequate if they don’t fit,” Matome said.

“This misrepresentation of women and their roles and gender roles is an issue for both genders because it affects both negatively.”

“The overall tone and the message that the film represents was very accurate in terms of what is happening with media representation in our society,” Blevins said.

Blevins was also pleased to know that the event was organized and hosted by a student.

“I think it is fantastic that we were encouraging media literacy outside of the classroom, which is one of the goals of the communication department, but having that be a student-led initiative because it is something that was interesting and powerful to so many of the students is fantastic,” Blevins said.

Though Fiegenschue cannot host another event of the sort, she hopes that others will continue to hold similar events in the future.

“The Representation Project will be releasing another documentary in 2015, titled “˜The Mask You Live In,’ which essentially takes the same issue and examines it from the male perspective, which is just great and will really help in including men in this fight,” Fiegenschue said. “So I definitely plan on passing on the torch and hope that this first event sparked enough interest to inspire others.”