Male Involvement in the Feminist Site Miss Representation
A Guest Post By: Kelly Hynes
Pictured above is Rosie the Riveter morphed into a technology
oriented version to represent women empowerment in the media. This new
Rosie is the symbol for the feminist site MissRepresentation.org that
strives to empower women by pointing out misrepresentations of females
in the media. MissRepresentation.org (2011) was created by Jennifer
Siebel Newsome and has been very successful in gaining credibility and
positively affecting females. However, they have left out a crucial
aspect needed to fully achieve equality; involving and educating males
The site Miss Representation
is a direct result of discrimination in today’s world and people
banding together to set it right. The website exposes how the media has
further contributed to the distortion of female image and provides a
curriculum for spreading their knowledge on how to breakthrough gender
barriers. Research I have done on the site MissRepresentation.org implies
male inclusion in the feminist movement progresses slowly because
feminists do not think to involve males or do not know how.
Making the site look professional is
essential to having Miss Representation taken seriously since feminism
is often ridiculed in society. Jonathan Crowe explains why feminism is
often mocked in “Men and Feminism: Some Challenges and A Partial Response”(2011). He says many men are used to being the center of
societal topics and when presented with feminist ideas they feel
threatened because in their minds since it is not for them, it must be
against men (1).
Missrepresentation.org creates a wide
network to expand their feminist group and prevent further female
misrepresentation through communication on their many social networking
sites, selling their curriculum to universities and schools, and Miss
Representation members hosting film screenings.
the “Education” page shown above, Missrepresentation.org says the
program has been made into several different versions for every age
level and can be taught to males and females (Newsome). However, I
noticed the curriculum rarely discusses males and the site even states
it is mainly focused on how females are affected by the media. This
could be because the curriculum creators do not know how to incorporate
males into the curriculum, but to reach their young female target
audience some male inclusion was necessary.
preview for the movie shows many famous and intelligent professional
women talking about females being misrepresented in the media, with very little male involvement (Newest Miss Representation Trailer (2011
Sundance Film Festival Official Selection)).
On the site, males are noticeably excluded in many topics
pertaining to equality among genders, which in itself seems
contradictory. It makes sense for males to be discussed on the education
page, even if nowhere else,
because on this page they are looking to sell their curriculum to
schools, universities, and libraries. This is crucial because most schools are co-ed and a
curriculum could not be sold to a public school if it was only viable
for female students. By Missrepresentation.org saying females as well as
males will benefit from their curriculum they have broadened their
audience without really including men in feminism (Newsome). Male
exclusion is also directly visible on the entire Miss Representation
site. Out of every main page or tab on the site there are only about two
pictures of males and the other pictures were professional women
working together towards equality, not women and men.
From this analysis I have concluded that Missrepresentation.org is struggling to incorporate males because they are not sure how to connect males to feminism. Furthering this idea is the section “Media We Like” on the “Take Action” page.
Here, a few strong female characters are shown and the
author asks if the viewers know any strong females in the media. It is
never questioned if we know a show or movie that equally represents genders and has strong female and male characters. In “Taking ‘Difference’ Seriously: Feminisms And The ‘Man Question’” (2007) Hebert
claims that the reason males are left out is because of “a lack of lived
experience of oppression as a ‘woman’ and continued skepticism among
some feminists of men’s motivation in aligning with feminism” which has
prevented them from being actual role players in the feminist movement
(5). This could be why Miss Representation is having trouble
incorporating men into feminism.
The idea that males are
not affected by media misrepresentation like women are can be disproved
by Dunn and Guadagno’s article about gaming avatars and how gamers do
not create their avatar solely around what they truly look like. In “My avatar and me – Gender and personality predictors of avatar-self discrepancy” (2012) Robert Andrew Dunn and Rosanna E. Guadagno explain
that “the real person generally chooses an avatar that is somewhere
between a para-authentic avatar and an alter-self avatar” (2). This
“alter self” could be the product of media misrepresentations through
the formation of what gamers of both genders deem a perfect person based
on what they see presented in the media. Furthermore, in “The Proteus Effect: Implications of Transformed Digital Self-Representation on Online and Offline Behavior” (2009) Nick Yee et al. illustrate that
“studies have shown that people infer their expected behaviors and
attitudes from observing their avatar’s appearance” (1). This article
shows how gamers of each gender tend to act accordingly to what they
see, similar to how problems such as eating disorders have evolved from media misrepresentations.
Despite the fact that females do need to know how to stand up against
falsification in the media, women empowerment will be an incomplete
effort if females are the only ones who understand why media
misrepresentation is bad. Without having support from males, feminism
cannot fully move forward because equality cannot be reached by creating
more tension between genders. For instance, if men keep disregarding
feminism because they feel threatened by it no progress will be made. On
the other hand, if females do not allow for male involvement, feminism
will move past equality and create the same problem they are trying to
fix. Supporting this is a quote from Laura Hebert’s student who
considered herself to be a feminist. The student stated “I don’t like
how feminists tend to exclude some people, mainly men. Because the fact
is, we can’t go it alone” she was unsure whether or not she was really a
feminist because many feminist tend to exclude men when discussing
equality (2). Opposing this thought is the fact that men cannot be
included unless they want to be and are willing to care about feminist
issues (Crowe 4).
I have found it is a common belief
among most people that men are the conspirators responsible for creating
misrepresentations of women in the media. This statement is directly
backed up by Crowe when he says “men are responsible for the continuing
oppression of women —and until they grasp this responsibility they will
always have trouble engaging with the feminist project” (2). He believes
men have trouble participating in feminism because they feel they are
being blamed for something they did not do. In addition, a blog post I analyzed from MissRepresentation gives support to this idea.
This offensive product subconsciously tells females that males are the
reason they are misrepresented because the second to last paragraph
states the two male founders name. In reality both genders create misrepresentations, but men tend to be blamed more often.
discussion of female misrepresentation there is a weak endeavor to
include males. I think feminists are struggling to believe males are a
part of the movement, because they are partly the reason
why females have been underrepresented, or they are not actually
thinking of equality, but only women empowerment.
suggest MissRepresentation focus on finding ways to include men in the movement
while continuing to empower women. Additional male involvement in
the curriculum and providing more discussion on how men are misrepresented will allow for a smooth
transition into male inclusion. Furthermore, teaming up with a site such as XY will help to include male feminists in the movement.