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Marquette Wire

“Miss Representation” screened with discussion for Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Photo by Yue Yin /[email protected]

The Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies and Marquette Student Government co-sponsored a screening of “Miss Representation” this week, followed by a roundtable discussion about empowering girls and women.

The 2011 documentary, shown as part of a movie series for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, shows the negative impact mainstream media has on girls’ self-esteem and body image through personal stories from teenage girls and interviews with women such as presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“The media’s representation of women has caused an increase in sexual violence,” said Taylor Gall, a Sexual Violence Prevention Committee board member and senior in the College of Education. “We wanted to have an open discussion about that.”

Gall, along with Katy Adler, a victim advocate for the Sexual Violence Prevention and Education program, facilitated the post-screening discussion.

Around 10 students and community members attended the discussion that covered issues including social media, sexual assault, sexuality, body image and media literacy.

Attendees agreed that social media platforms, including Instagram and Snapchat, make it easier for women to lose self-esteem when they compare themselves to other women.

“As women, we have to be aware of how we talk about our own body,” Adler said.

Many attendees said body image issues in females start at a younger age than they did in previous years. The film argues that this issue stems from a cultural tendency to emphasize a female’s appearance early on in her life.

One woman at the discussion talked about her nine-year-old granddaughter, who she wants to protect from harmful media messages about women’s bodies.

“The film echoed a lot of what I already knew but it was a relief to see that people in the discussion felt the same way about these issues as I do,” said Lauren Carufel-Wert, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and volunteer for the Sexual Violence Prevention Office.

During the discussion, Carufel-Wert said, when she becomes a mom, she will praise her daughter for her personality and her accomplishments instead of for being cute.

To end the discussion, Gall asked the group what they would do to change the issues demonstrated in “Miss Representation.” One attendee suggested a detox from social media by deleting social media apps for the summer.

Another person suggested complimenting other females on their character instead of their appearance.

Gall also said the media’s portrayal of females impacts both genders, which means that everyone should discuss the issue.

“In order to make a real change, men need to join the conversation,” Gall said.

“Miss Representation” is the second movie in the four-film series. The CGSS and MUSG will show “The Hunting Ground” on April 25, followed by a panel of faculty and staff who will discuss campus sexual assault.

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