Gender inequality is not a thing of the past

For anyone who went the viewing of, “Miss Representation,” in Pierce Hall on November 7, thank you for attending and taking advantage of the opportunity. I prefer to use the word, “opportunity,” because Franklin Pierce is the only college so far in the state of New Hampshire that has held a public viewing of the film. “Miss Representation,” a documentary that was shown during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, aims to educate its audience on the media’s representation of gender.  For those who attended, I hope you were able to take away something with you after the viewing that could influence or change the way you see gender portrayed on the big and sliver screen, as well as in your own prospective field or discipline.

Though the members of the Women in Leadership program were unable to lead a group discussion with the attendees due to time restraints, I briefly discussed the movie among a few viewers and others in the Women in Leadership program. We discussed how pleased we were that the film discussed these issues with examples from all media outlets, interviews with media industry leaders, as well as some details on how males are also victims of media misrepresentation. However, as we discussed the film’s potential for educating more people about gender issues in the media, we were reminded about one misconception that has yet to be brought into focus: the idea that gender inequality is a thing of the past.

Before enrolling in my first gender studies class, I knew that gender inequality existed, but I did not understand the magnitude of the situation. It wasn’t until I dug deeper for information that I realized how we see and even act is based upon gender roles we perceive as, “normal.” However, this, “normal,” role that we conform to is anything but that; the pressure we face from society and culture to align ourselves with these, “appropriate,” roles is the root of inequality and discrimination in our world.  Even some of the most troubling facts, such as the fact that women make up 51% of the country, but only make up 17% of Congress, are not examined critically enough to recognize there is something very odd and puzzling about what is happening around us.

So how do we fix these issues? What obligations do you have to the public and the community in terms of gender representation? The answer is simple: education. This does not mean you need to rush to sign yourself up for the next open seat in a gender studies class, but rather that you should take the initiative to investigate the issues, form your own opinions, and seek out appropriate solutions and ways to get the word out about them. From signing a petition, to updating the outdated FBI definition of rape, to staying on top of current issues in your discipline regarding gender and discussing them in class, any small individual effort can influence others in the community and society to start thinking about them as well. However, above all else, ask questions about everything and anything because that is change is initiated.

 Val Armstrong
Pierce Arrow Blogger 

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