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ASU's Performance in the Borderlands' Beyond "Miss Representation" Aims to Open Dialogue on Women's Representation in Media

ASU's Performance in the Borderlands' Beyond "Miss Representation" Aims to Open Dialogue on Women's Representation in Media
Courtesy of Mary Stephens

One of ASU's cultural leaders and producer of Performance in the Borderlands, Mary Stephens, has created an event to help raise awareness and encourage open dialogue about women's representation in the media, particularly women of color, LGBTQ community, class, and citizenship status.

Beyond "Miss Representation" is presented under the Performance in the Borderlands initiative, which Stephens says is a "research, education and public programming initiative dedicated to the understanding and promotion of cultural performance."

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The free event will feature the documentary "Miss Representation" by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

The film's premise is focused on the media's misrepresentations of women that lead to under-representation of women in positions of power and influence. While the film did a great job covering women's misrepresentations in media, it predominantly focused on white, heterosexual women, neglecting women of color, LGBTQ communities, and undocumented women who live in the US. To help bridge the gap between the two, a panel of professors, artists, students, and activists will lead a discussion with audience members about the diversity of women's experiences in communities.

Stephens says she was inspired to do the show after she and another fellow ASU education director put together a cultural event called "Breaking Boundaries" last September.

"We had 250 people come out to talk about art/social change. So it is clear the need for public discourse is high and desired in our community," said said Stephens. "Many people asked for more of these socio-artistic-political happenings to occur, so I knew we needed to follow up with something important. More importantly, the need for events that speak to diverse audiences (race/class/gender/sexuality/age), and open up new ideas for a variety of people is of the utmost importance. My goal is to include as many local artists and thinkers as possible in hopes to grow our artistic/intellectual culture in Phoenix."  

Stephens, who is also the owner of Phoenix Hostel and Cultural Center says she found herself singing along to an Eminem song one day, which included the line "If she ever tries to f***ing leave again, I'm 'a tie her to the bed and set this house on fire," and froze.

"It was pretty startling, considering one of the greatest threats to women of color or in general is being killed by a partner, and here you have these pop singers (one of whom was publicly beaten a few years ago) singing about abusing women as part of love. And here I am singing these words in my car. So the contradictions and dangers are very present and very real.".

Only about half of the film will be shown, as Stephens says their goal is to hear people's thoughts and opinions about the topic and film. There will also be other performances, a panel of cultural speakers, live music and a DJ.

"I want the event itself to challenge how people come together around challenging topics. I think we can have spaces that promote creativity, while growing our intellect," says Stephens. "Being a woman, man, or any other gendered designation is a difficult process for us all. I want to live in a world that invites more dialogue between us all about the status quo, about power-relationships, and about what it means to be human. "

'Beyond "Miss Representation"' takes place Tuesday, February 12 from 6:30. to 9 p.m, Civic Space Park in AE England Building. The event is free, and all ages are welcome.

Fore more information, please see the event's website.

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