When it comes to gender equality and representation in the media, 2014 was a mega important year. Feminism was constantly in the conversation with celebrities like Emma Watson speaking out on the cause, Frozen ruled box offices, and Shonda Rhimes led a full female-centric TV domination. There was also the mainstream rise of trans issues, cornerstoned by Laverne Cox and her Time Magazine cover. Progress was made, and we were so happy for reasons to celebrate. Of course, there is still a LOT left to be done before all genders are operating on equal playing fields, particularly in the media.
In their year-end video The Representation Project, a group which uses media to highlight gender injustices, celebrated all these advances while also spotlighting those very troubling gender inequalities that are still WAY too prevalent. From the very title, “Demand Better Media in 2015,” the video asks us to fight against the status quo — if that’s not on your New Year’s resolution list, add it there now.
So what are some things that The Representation Project pulled out as areas still needing work? How about the lack of female representation on TV and the sexualization of talented actresses like Sofia Vergara — not OK. They also spotlight the mocking of rape victims, Bill Cosby’s victim-blaming, and bomb threats against feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian. There are also the out-of-touch newscasters who disrespected our first lady by saying she should lose a few pounds, and those who undermine the safety of women everywhere by continuing to claim that “No means yes.” (We’re looking at you, Rush Limbaugh — DEFINITELY not OK.) As the video importantly reminds us, these gender stereotypes and injustices have a negative effect on men as well as on women.
So here’s what we need to do to make the media better for all of us in 2015: Stop trivializing violence against women and start taking equality seriously, both in media and in our everyday lives and behaviors.
All that said, as Elizabeth Plank wrote about the video for Mic News, “There’s reason to be hopeful for the year ahead. Early indicators are promising, from Selma director Ava DuVernay becoming the first African-American woman ever to be nominated in that category at the Golden Globes, to Leighton Meester’s comments about feminism. 2015 is off to a pretty good start, but the message of the video is clear: We can’t stop now. Let’s make this year different. Let’s demand even better.”
First order of business, watch the video. Second order of business, keep fighting every day for the gender equality in media (and life!) we so rightly deserve.
Image via The Representation Project