The Pursuit For Gender Equality
The Miss-Representation Documentary and Beyond
Miss Representation aired in 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival, presenting the inconvenient truth about the media industry and the ills of gender stereotype. For many it opened old wounds about rejection, bullying, and the glass ceiling societal infrastructure has created for women. The question "who is controlling the message on gender?" resonated throughout the film, more rhetorical, as the main culprit pointed towards male driven media machines. The documentary hoped to spur discourse on the way in which women are represented in media and the challenges it has created in empowering women in our communities, cities, and nations. It spoke of political disenfranchisement of young girls and women; overt disrespect for some of the most powerful women in the world; and the poisonous messages being sent to young boys and girls. If you have not seen the movie, please take a look at a trailer below. The documentary is available on iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon.
Today, what was just a documentary bringing awareness, has grown into a nonprofit organization pushing to education the public about routine sexism but in its direct and subtle form. Imran Siddiquee wears multiple hats within the Miss Representation Organization. He spoke with Bad Girl Confidence briefly about his role in the organization and the next step for Miss Representation. These guys have a mission and they refuse to rest on their laurels.
As a guy, what makes this an important vision for you to pursue?
If 50% of society isn’t entirely free, none of us have experienced 100% of human potential. I feel limited by gender stereotypes - gender extremely limit the way we all express ourselves.
I studied a bit of feminism and film in college, but Miss Representation was the tipping point for me to join the movement. It’s when I realized I had a role to play.
What do you do for Miss Representation?
The film came out in 2011 and the non-profit grew out of it because of the success of the documentary. I’m now the Director of Social Media and Outreach for the organization, and my focus is getting people hooked into the messages of Miss Representation (and our forthcoming films), so that after people see it they feel like they can make a difference. We do this through social media and other forms of community organizing.
What's new on the horizon for Miss Rep?
We are working to release a new film called The Mask You Live In. It's about American masculinity and how the stereotypes of manhood particularly impact boys. You can find our Kickstarter campaign here:
Miss Representation is also working on a "notbuyingit" app. The hashtag #notbuyingit was created to bring awareness to sexism and give people a chance to talk back to the media. The app allows people to upload images of everyday misogyny and sexism in the world around them, and to tag the offending brands so they know we’re “not buying it.” We want to encourage people to become more conscious consumers.
Is Miss Representation considering the impact of media on people of color within its awareness campaign?
One of our main goals is to constantly try and improve this aspect of our work. Miss Representation, the film, doesn’t necessarily spend a lot of time showing how expectations/stereotypes of women affect different groups of people differently - that wasn't where the focus was. But it did open up a mainstream conversation that we are now taking the time to really investigate.
Miss Representation, as a campaign, isn't going away. Our culture doesn't talk about women of color enough, in general, and as we continue to monitor the media for sexism, we will put more of the focus on intersectional feminism.
The Mask You Live In, the new film, will also take into account race as it discusses masculinity.
What role did social media play in growing the organization?
Social media has allowed us to build a community of active and intelligent supporters. They are debating issues like intersectionality and the role of men in feminism daily, through Twitter, Facebook, etc. And they’re also creating real change through online activism – tweeting, petitions and spreading awareness.
And the online community is what allowed the Kickstarter campaign for the new film, The Mask You Live In, to be so successful and surpass its fundraising goal. Earlier this year they helped us fund the App as well. So we really see this, collectively, as a movement we’re building together with our supporters.
We owe a lot of the success of the film to social media and the way our fans helped us build buzz.
What is your biggest challenge?
Demonstrable results. I can share a lot of statistics about social media reach – or how many folks have seen our films – but to prove that the reach has a direct impact on behavior is harder. It's hard to quantify. It’s a dilemma a lot of online feminist organizations face, but it’s also something we’ve been conscious of for a while, and something we’re working on solving.
For instance, our new App will help us track how people use it and how their views on the media are changing over time.