Monthly Archives: November 2012

Miss Representation – by Christina Antonick

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

Watch the Miss Representation trailer here

Christina Antonick – R+R Adult Facilitator

“The Lie” is a Great Big, Giant, No Good, Misogynistic Lie – by Kevin Vowles

There are those of us in this world building a culture of peace, caring, kindness, and love.  Caring about the violence and responding to it are critical in reducing, lessening and eventually ending it.

The Lie, by Chad Kultgen, is a tale woven from the perspective of three college students in Texas, caught up in a perpetual cycle of violence, and dysfunctional relationships.  A response to this book is critical for me as a man involved in the struggle to end violence.  I respond because I care.  There are no other reviews on the internet by men that I can find, and perhaps this is what I find even more disturbing than the book itself.

The central character, Brett, is set to inherit a fortune should he take over his father’s shipping company.  He has a crisis of conscience, as he doesn’t want to walk the same ‘dull’ path as his father and his father before him. I doubt it is any crisis of conscience though based on the rest of his social actions, as he spends the majority of the book trying (and succeeding) to defile women in every way imaginable. He reaches his peak of depravity by visiting an island in the Caribbean inhabited solely by commercial sex trade workers (the Island is dubbed Whore Island), he contracts genital herpes—which he uses to infect his best friend’s ex-girlfriend (who dumped him after he gave her a fake engagement ring), in a sinisterly devised plot filled with as much revenge as one could imagine.

From Brett’s socially learned perspective, women only engage in relationships or sex, with men, so that they can gain access to their material wealth.  The entire plot centers on this sexist stereotype of women as gold-diggers.

For every 1000 billionaires on the planet, only 14 are women, according to Forbes magazine,.  Many of the world’s richest men have no doubt built fortunes on the exploitation, rape, pillage, and extraction of the planet’s natural resources and people, considering the present state of the planet.  The fact that women raise the majority of the world’s children, on top of contributing to family finances, is given zero credence in the book.  The remarkable work of social justice and peace advocates, health care professionals, feminists, educators, and other great women is forgotten. Truthfully though, the real exploiters in this world are men.

Under the description of the book on Harper Perennial’s website there is a warning: “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” The story glorifies the objectification of women.  It is not a critique of the sexist nature of our society.  It is clear that Chad Kultgen is not attempting to trigger any kind of mass awakening to the injustice of a system which enables men to feel entitled to use and abuse women, but perhaps with some luck that is exactly what he has done.  However, as a violence prevention facilitator I’m actually fairly certain that the book has value.  It is a ringing indictment of the fact that not only is sexism, extreme objectification and exploitation of women through pornography, binge drinking with the intention of ‘getting laid’, human trafficking, and the date rape drug, alive and well, but that more than ever, the world needs decent, respectful boys and men to grow up and engage in the struggle to end gender inequality.

If you’re reading this, feeling angry, and wanting to get involved, you should be proud to take the first steps as an ally to women and girls.  From here, I’d recommend heading to www.missrepresentation.com where you can watch the film Miss. Representation. You can also go to www.antipornmen.org, where men speak out against pornography. Or, visit author websites such as Jackson Katz, David Hatfield or Paul Kivel—all influential men working on issues of violence, masculinity, sexism and homophobia.
For the full version of this book review head to www.kevinvowles.wordpress.com

by Kevin Vowles, R+R Adult Facilitator