We have a new 2011 Sundance film, “Miss Representation,” in our SWOVA library! Featuring Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, Jackson Katz, Katie Couric, Margaret Cho, Condoleezza Rice and Nancy Pelosi, it is a riveting 90 min documentary film exploring sexism in media, politics and North American social conditioning. Often in Respectful Relationships (R+R) classes I hear youth say, “ Salt Spring Island is different…its not like the rest of the world.” I feel concerned and frustrated by such responses as it is vividly clear to me that sexism and hyper-masculinity are alive here on SSI as are racism and homophobia. I explain to them that our program is about continuing to evolve as global citizens on both the personal and collective level…that our vision is to work here on Salt Spring as well as effect change in the world out there beyond Salt Spring Island. Being able to feel ourselves connected and responsible in this way is one of the core virtues we teach in the program – empathy. Empathy, compassion and reflection are deeply needed in our world today. In “Miss Representation,” women and men articulate that media is actively distracting youth from making a difference and becoming leaders. When I repeatedly hear in our R+R circles this year, “One person can’t make a difference…,” I hear the social virus right here in our classrooms on Salt Spring Island.
“Miss Representation” shares startling facts and statistics that are meant to shake and disturb. Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s movie makes connections between government under-representation, media’s limiting and disparaging portrayals of women and how these make it difficult for the average girl to see herself as powerful. And yes, from my decade of working here on Salt Spring Island, I continue to see young girls struggling with self-esteem, body image, depression and anxiety located within constructs of sexism. I would confidently make the connection between sexism, media, technology and young women’s struggles. It is both personal as well as extremely political. I would encourage all of us to really show up for a deeper and much needed conversation about sexism and how it is hurting all of us but in particular, girls and women. This is what social and emotional literacy and 21st century learning must embrace so that both girls and boys, young men and women can climb out of the boxes that are literally, killing them
Christina Antonick – R+R Adult Facilitator