by Imran Siddiquee
With the success of shows like the Emmy-winning Homeland and blockbuster movies like The Hunger Games, the media seemed poised this year to finally recognize the demand for more variety in representations of women and girls. In news media, popular stories like Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “have it all” essay in The Atlantic and the number of women running for office in the U.S. election put “women’s issues” front-and-center throughout the year. And even big brands like Nike released advertisements that actually empowered and inspired women in America, rather than diminished them.
Yet, alas, these were exceptions to the frustrating rule. TV shows and movies where women and girls are trivialized and demeaned regularly were still the norm in 2012. Way too many major advertisers still relied on sexist and misogynistic representations of women to sell products. And the mainstream news media continued to blatantly demean women – even those women in the most powerful positions in the country – while only covering most issues of actual women’s rights in response to their popularity on social media networks.
In fact, the brightest spot in this year’s shifting media landscape was the way in which women and girls online were able to continually influence the mainstream conversation. Whether it was a photo of a congressional hearing that went viral, or a petition that asked magazines to change the way they represent women in photographs, individuals banded together to fight sexism in a big way in 2012 – and actually succeeded.
While we won’t ever stop challenging the disrespect lobbed at women in mainstream media, this year we learned emphatically that our own voices are the most effective weapon in the battle to change the media conversation. Which is reason enough to be hopeful and excited about 2013.
Watch our video recaps of how women were represented by the media in 2012:
Written by Imran Siddiquee at MissRepresentation.org. Follow him on Twitter @imransiddiquee