The roles of women.
Last October, my friend Dana had me record a TV show called Miss Representation, she had heard about it on a news program and wanted to see what it was all about, we finally got together sometime in December and watched the program. It was a hard show to watch, we fast forwarded a lot of it, and I mean A LOT, but there were some interesting insights and things to ponder. If you are interested in the show this link will take you to the web site, otherwise this is the synopsis of the show to give you a little hint of what the show was about.
Like drawing back a curtain to let bright light stream in, Miss Representation (90 min; TV-14 DL) uncovers a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see. Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the film exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.
In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.
Stories from teenage girls and provocative interviews with politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists and academics, like Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem build momentum as Miss Representation accumulates startling facts and statistics that will leave the audience shaken and armed with a new perspective.
When I finished watching the show I was upset, even angry, and I couldn't really explain why, or what it was that bugged me so much. I have always been bothered by the way women, and men, are portrayed in the media, but the way the show suggested correction and improvement bothered me. Then I read the synopsis from the show and figured out what it was about the show specifically, that bothered me so much, it was this line "The collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman's value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader", "in her capacity as a leader", that bothered me the most. They are suggesting that woman's value is not in youth, beauty and sexuality, and I agree, but they are trying to impose that my value is in my capacity as a leader. Well sure I would probably be a great world leader, I do pretty well in other leadership positions, but that is not where my value lies either. Never once in the show did it mention my value as a wife, mother, nurturer or creator, and not that I thought it would, but it certainly never mentioned my value as a daughter of God.
A few month latter I was preparing a lesson in Young Woman's about the divine roles of women and I came across a quote from Elder M. Russell Ballard which said,
"It is, unfortunately, all too easy to illustrate the confusion and distortion of womanhood in contemporary society. Immodest, immoral, intemperate women jam the airwaves, monopolize magazines, and slink across movie screens—all while being celebrated by the world. The Apostle Paul spoke prophetically of “perilous times” that will come in the last days and specifically referenced something that may have seemed particularly perilous to him: “silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts” (2 Timothy 3:1, 6). Popular culture today often makes women look silly, inconsequential, mindless, and powerless. It objectifies them and disrespects them and then suggests that they are able to leave their mark on mankind only by seduction—easily the most pervasively dangerous message the adversary sends to women about themselves.
And so, my dear young women, with all my heart I urge you not to look to contemporary culture for your role models and mentors. Please look to your faithful mothers for a pattern to follow. Model yourselves after them, not after celebrities whose standards are not the Lord’s standards and whose values may not reflect an eternal perspective."
I thought, that was a much better explanation or possible synopsis for a show about "Miss Representation". Lets not replace the idea of women's value as youth, beauty and sex, with power and positions of leadership, lets replace the misguided value of women with the Lord's standards to be wives, mothers, nurtures and creators. I do not feel diminished because I am a stay at home mom, I do not feel powerless, undervalued and worthless because I do not hold a title, or position of power, to the contrary, as a mother I know I can shape the future, I know that I have significant influence in many lives, not just my children. As a daughter of God, a mother in Zion, and a member of Relief Society, I feel empowered, valued, and of worth. I feel important. I love this quote from President Joseph F. Smith saying: “It is not for you to be led by the women of the world; it is for you to lead the … women of the world, in everything that is praise-worthy, everything that is God-like, everything that is uplifting and … purifying to the children of men". That is what I hope to do everyday. I also thought this quote from Elder Ballard was wonderful, he said: "Sisters, we, your brethren, cannot do what you were divinely designated to do from before the foundation of the world. We may try, but we cannot ever hope to replicate your unique gifts. There is nothing in this world as personal, as nurturing, or as life changing as the influence of a righteous woman." I am so grateful that although the world may be totally misguided about the roles of women, The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints know where my value lies. I am represented by, and belong to a world wide group of women in the Relief Society, we are doing GREAT things, we are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us and we love Him! I wish all women in the world could know and feel what I do about the greatness and value of women, if they did, then we would see a great shift in the way media portrays women.