Whose Reality?

Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Jennifer Pozner
IMOW just hosted an awesome event with Jennifer Siebel Newsom, first lady of San Francisco and documentarian, and Jennifer Pozner, author and executive director of Women in Media, about the portrayal of women in media, and specifically reality television.

Newsom's film, Miss Representation, and Pozner's book, "Reality Bites Back," really lay bare just how the media distorts women's images, confining them to easily digestible stereotypes in front of the camera, and shutting them out of positions of power behind the camera. In fact, Newsom said something like 80 to 90 percent of positions of power--in politics, media, business, etc.--are held by men.

Both Pozner and Newsom said that one way to hold the media accountable about the way they portray women is to speak up. "Women sometimes discount their own authority," said Pozner. "But you are an authority, and even your own experiences give you authority." Pozner and Newsome encouraged women to write letters to the editors of newspapers and magazines, call in to talk shows, and generally "talk back to the media."

So what do you think about how women are portrayed in the media, and specifically reality television? Any ideas about how we can affect these distorted portrayals? And why don't women speak up more often?