February 24, 2014


Have you ever seen one of those slutty advertisements with a woman sprawled across the hood of a car selling a burger? Or a glossy magazine that claims to be a trusted friend, but its actual intent is to guilt you into buying the newest craze you may not need or want simply because society is expecting you to stay impossibly young and dewy?  If you said yes to either, you need to read on.

You may have recently heard about a website that has attracted the attention of many.  Think back to Super Bowl 2013 when Go Daddy pushed the ick factor beyond our palatable limits.  Well, you may have also noticed that this year's commercials were far more benign.  The jury's still out, but word on the street is that a hashtag might be the underlying factor, causing our advertisers to sit up and take notice.  What?  We, as consumers, might actually have a voice?  The answer to that seems to be a resounding yep!

Over the course of the last few years, a Bay Area website has exploded after a documentary geared to our young women and girls wowed The Sundance Film Festival.  Oprah was so impressed she nabbed the rights to the film, ironically titled Miss Representation, adding it to her collection on the OWN Network.  If you are unfamiliar, the theme of the movie basically addresses the issue of media, and the way our young women and men are being influenced by the subtext of visuals, words, and implications.  While our technology sources claim to be making us smarter and more competitive, it is not surprising that the barrage of 24 hour a day media is actually a slippery slope when it comes to the unrealistic expectations our boys and girls have of themselves and others.

The film was so successful that the counterpart to the idea is soon to be released, making the star of the movie our young boys and men.  The title of the film is The Mask You Live In, and will explore our society's fascination with the issue of masculinity.  Posing the questions that we have removed from our country's vernacular.  Like the suggestion that emotion makes men lesser or the assumption that men and boys are void of the need to navigate their way through life dependant upon personal relationships.  Somehow, the term "man up" has caused our young men and boys to read between the lines, believing somehow that they would appear weaker if their outward persona wasn't anything but strong and formidable.   

The Representation Project, headed up by Jennifer Siebel-Newsom, is gaining a great deal of momentum by producing these important films.  On the heels of their success with Miss Representation, a website and a grassroots movement began, and has picked up steam internationally. They developed a hashtag last year as a response to anything and everything that falls within the parameters of nope, not accepting that!  It's cleverly called #NotBuyingIt.  You may have seen it on Twitter, and possibly on CNN, as news reports were generated following a public pushback before and during this year's Super Bowl.  There's even a new #NotBuyingIt App where you can post and vote against media absurdities, giving consumers the latitude to publicly call out especially ridiculous perpetrators.  Turns out Americans are not sitting back and swallowing the bitter pill of blatant sexism and disrespectful gender stereotypes that our powerful media moguls and advertisers once pummelled us with simply because they could. With the advancement of social media, we are actually discovering that we have the opportunity to bust the doors wide open on things that we find offensive.

In the course of the last year, I have been especially mindful of the way in which women and men are so differently portrayed.  I have written blogs on the difference between Vogue and GQ, made comments on the way in which our society ignores the issue of embracing age, and made it known that health and wellness should take precedence over skinny and perfect.  Honestly, the more I have become cognizant of these issues, the more I realize how pervasive the problem is.  And it's a sneaky one.  Because things will have the appearance of clever and cheeky, yet really be a bullshit way of yanking women down even further.  As a perfect example, I have included a photo from Vanity Fair Magazine.  I am the first one to say I am a regular viewer of MSNBC's Morning Joe. They greet me every morning as I nurse my first cup of coffee, always enlightening me with their smart banter while covering both sides of the proverbial aisle.  So, here's my question.  Why isn't Mika sitting in a chair wearing a fantastic tailored suit and Joe sitting on a table in short shorts kicking his right leg above his head?  The answer is clear. We wouldn't have it.  It would blow up the Twittersphere, make the front page of every newspaper, Kelly and Michael would carry on about it for the first ten minutes of their show, and Hoda and Kathie Lee would critique the shocking pic with a glass of Chardonnay.  So why, after working tirelessly for 25 years, and climbing to a place of professional respect, would she allow it?  A perfect example of #NotBuyingIt.


Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough

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