Social Media Expert Explores Women in Media at Mill Valley Public Library

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Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s now-infamous “binders full of women” comment during the presidential debates quickly generated laughs across the Internet. Yet the comment also shaded a far more serious issue: the gap that exists between men and women in politics and other positions of power.

At the Mill Valley Public Library’s November 2nd First Friday event, this topic and one possible cause--the misrepresentation of women in the media--will get front and center treatment during a lively talk and Q&A.

Featured guest Imran Siddiquee, social media and communications manager of MissRepresentation.org, will show clips from Miss Representation, an award-winning documentary that explores how the mainstream media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence.

Directed by Marin resident Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a filmmaker, speaker, and advocate for women, girls, and their families, Miss Representation made its debut at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and has since been inspiring communities across the country.

The documentary challenges the media's limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions. The film also spurred an ongoing social action campaign, MissRepresentation.org, which was launched to shift people's consciousness, inspire individual and community action, and transform culture so that everyone, regardless of gender, can fulfill their potential.

"With the sustained popularity of reality TV--which is often based on the worst imaginable gender stereotypes--and the increasing amount of media we all consume on a daily basis, it's more important than ever to become active participants in challenging and re-shaping the broken media industry," says Siddiquee. "Our kids are learning at younger and younger ages that what is most valuable about women and girls is their youth, beauty and sexuality. So our girls grow up doubting their own talents and ability to succeed independent of these superficial things. As a result, we have a serious lack of female leadership in this country."

As MissRepresentation.org's social media and communications manager, Siddiquee has helped design and execute large-scale social media actions that engage people all over the world in the Miss Representation conversation. During the November 2nd First Friday event, he will talk about using social media to engage consumers to act against offensive media.

"What we're really excited about at MissRepresentation.org is that we now have the tools to challenge this harmful media by creating our own," Siddiquee says. "We're not helpless. Through social networks like Twitter and Facebook we've led campaigns that call out the most sexist and insulting media out there--forcing them to hear our voices. These campaigns are often inspired by individual supporters who saw an ad or a movie that they felt was offensive. We are empowering those individuals and amplifying those voices which have been marginalized by the mainstream media, and as a result, the issues of women and girls representation are being heard and discussed more frequently."

The public is invited to attend this November 2nd First Friday event, which will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Mill Valley Public Library's Main Reading Room.  Doors will open to registered guests at 6:30 p.m. Entry is free and open to adults and high school students. Space is limited, so registration is recommended.

To register, call 415-389-4292, ext. 4740 or sign up online at http://www.millvalleylibrary.org.


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