Dallas Hyland is a St. George News columnist, the opinions stated herein are his own and not those of St. George News.
OPINION - In the book “Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand, Francisco d’Anconia said to James Taggart, “James, you ought to discover someday that words have an exact meaning.” It is one of my favorite lines in the book because it suggests that words carry weight and meaning and that we should use them with care and intention.
Following that line of thinking, how much more weight and meaning is added when you combine words with images?
Last week the DOCUTAH Film Festival kicked off the 2012 season with the film “Miss Representation,” a documentary about how women are portrayed in the media and the messages viewers receive. See trailer for Miss Representation here.
Many people believe that this is an old issue, that women have equal rights to men and wonder why people still talk about it; the reason may be in part because women are still largely targeted and depicted by their sexuality and looks.
In one scene a young woman asked: If the most powerful women in the country can’t get dignity and respect from the media, what does that mean for the rest of us?
There was another scene where Hillary Clinton, (put your politics aside for a moment), is speaking before a crowd during her run for president and men are heard chanting, “iron my shirts, iron my shirts.”
We all know that politics are ugly, but really? Iron my shirts? Would this sort of rhetoric be used on a male politician?
As a man outnumbered in the audience by women, I couldn’t help thinking that this is not a women’s issue alone, it is an issue about humanity.
All great movements are great because they demand the best from society as a whole and they benefit everyone. While this issue is certainly critical for women and girls, it is equally critical for men and boys – we contribute to it.
All of us have a woman in our lives that we wouldn’t allow to be degraded, humiliated, or disrespected, so why do we allow it or encourage it in the media? Would you be okay if college kids were yelling at your mother or wife to iron their shirts?
Furthermore, these messages hurt our boys. What are they being taught about women?
The women’s movement, feminism, is about equality and it is about what is best for all of us. This includes men.
Men, you need to be a part of the voices calling attention to this, and women, you need to allow men to join you in this fight.
At one point in the panel discussion, a somewhat passionate attendee hammered a male panelist for his eagerness to answer a question, implying his was a less empathetic voice to the plight of women and subsequently silencing him and diminishing his voice in the conversation.
Is this the goal of the discussion? To shut men up and put them in their long overdue place?
Hardly. What needs to be embraced is an open and honest dialogue about the importance of men’s and women’s roles, responsibilities, and obligations to our children and future generations – about how we go forward in a manner that values our dignity as men and women.
Can we respect our differences while at the same time embracing them?
Clearly, this is an issue that is far from resolved.
But equally as clear is the seemingly fervent demand by the masses for the ill-depicted images of women in the media.
Has it occurred to anyone that their power is possessed in what they choose to buy and watch?
Decrying the plight of women’s dignity out of one side of our mouths, while simultaneously saying “I’ll buy that product” or “I’ll view that media,” when the latter portray women as objects, presents an undeniable hypocrisy.
The question is, what are you willing to do about it?
This is my call to men. Step up. Do not be silent about this. These are our friends, sisters, mothers and daughters we are talking about here. This matters.
And women, encourage men to take part. In fact, demand it.
See you out there.
Dallas’s wife, Greta Hyland, contributed to this column piece.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.