Hundreds of men and women of all ages filed into the Abbott Auditorium at Darden Business school on Friday September 30, 2011, at 7 p.m. for the RISE event, “Changing the Way We See Women.” Founder Aidyn Mills created RISE last year.
At the beginning of the event, she gave a very eloquent, quick introduction, giving an overview of what RISE is and the objectives that she hopes to obtain through the organization. Then, she gave us all a very startling description. She said, that if all of us were young women, only the dozen or so of us that were up in the “nosebleeds” out of the hundreds of us that attended, would be happy with our bodies. That means that the majority of young women will be unhappy with their bodies.
Then, the film Miss Representation, directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, began to play. Images flash up on the screen of scantily clad young women as they are portrayed in the media, and I found myself become increasingly surprised at how familiar these images were to me and how often I had seen them. The film is told through a young woman’s point of view, who is about to become a mother.
Teenagers and young adults watch a total of 31 hours of television, listen to 17 hours of music, watch 3 hours of movies, read magazines for 4 hours, and spend 10 hours online every week. These adolescents are subjected to the advertisements, television shows, and movies that show scantily clad women and the obscene outfits and actions that these women perform on screen. These advertisements and television shows, along with showing young women an impossible standard and expecting them to reach it, they also show boys what is supposed to be the standard of beauty, which makes the boys scrutinize young girls in their peer group much more harshly than they should.
This video features many of today powerful women including former television broadcaster, Katie Couric, comedian and actress, Margaret Cho, and talk show host, Rachel Maddow. In the beginning of the video Margaret Cho gave a very blunt, yet very accurate description of the treatment of women.
“The media treats women like shit,” she said. “I don’t know how we deal with it, I don’t know how we rise above it.”
At the age of 13, 53 percent of girls hate their bodies. By the age of 17, that percentage increased to 78 percent.
Katie Couric had this to say in reference to when she watches young women on the news.
“They look like their working as cocktail waitresses and not a profession broadcaster.”
Maddow also put in her two cents, saying “there are lot of words in my show and I work really hard to get them right.”
The statistics of women who are CEOs are also alarming and, the further in power ranks that people look, the less women that are in those positions.
After the film ended, four panelists took the stage: Sharon Hostler, the Senior Associate Dean at the School of Medicine at the University of Virginia; Andrea Press, Media Studies professor and former founding Chair of the Department of Media studies at UVa; Eva Scott, who served four terms in the Virginia House Delegates and was also elected as the first woman to serve in the Virginia State Senate; and Kate Bruno, a registered dietitian and personal trainer who specializes in the treatment of eating and exercise disorders.
These ladies tackled questions from the use of sexuality in grade schools to sexuality in the media, as well as what young men can do about the women in their lives who have to deal with this objectification on a daily basis.
The program closed with a standing ovation for the panelists and a few words by Aidyn Mills. The panel was moderated by Andrea Copeland, host of the show “Speaking with Andrea.”