Parent Education Speaker Series #4

February 28, 2013

Dozens of people attended a screening of the award-winning Sundance documentary “Miss Representation” in Walden School’s Toby Hayward Community Room last night as the final event of this year’s Speaker Series. Walden parent Dr. Christy Billock, chair of the school’s Diversity Committee, moderated a discussion with the group following the film. “It’s important to look at media as an opportunity to talk with our kids about what they are seeing. Their shows are an opportunity to bring these ideas up to them, and get them to think about it,” said Christy. By posing questions about parents’ reactions to the social influence evidenced in the documentary, she asked parents to think about what they can do to help children understand how media’s misrepresentations of women can lead to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence.

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.

“[The film] made me wonder if there is anything for my daughter to watch on TV that doesn’t reinforce these misrepresentations?” remarked Kathy LaBagh, parent of a Walden School first grader. Parent of two, Meredith Rose, added, “It was affirming, because I see this, and wonder am I crazy for having these ideas? Am I the only one noticing? It’s good that [the filmmakers] are putting this information out there.”

Director of Studies Terra Toscano noticed Walden graduate Oliver Middlesteadt is in the documentary. “Every day at Walden we empower kids to find their voice and look for ways to make a positive contribution to the world,” said Terra. This film is the beginning of a discussion about media influence and many parents and teachers look forward to continuing the conversation with each other and with students. “It’s one thing to watch the film alone, it’s another to watch it together, because the power lies in this discussion,” declared Christy.

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