In 2011 the U.S. Government performed a study, revealing that one in five women have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.
The novel Purple Hibiscus was published in 2003, telling the story of two teenage siblings in postcolonial Nigeria living under the rule of an abusive father, ruling their lives with an iron fist.
After much argument, the two children are allowed to go stay with their single-mother Aunt who allows them watch TV, listen to non-religious music - in short, experience a new world. These children return home, wanting more freedom and autonomy than ever before.
These feelings of suppression and limited potential were expressed by Betty Friedan's 1963 Feminine Mystique. Women across America were stuck at home living their robotic domestic lives, all feeling the same problem that had no name.
Those of you who are women likely have wondered at one time or another, "how do I balance my family life with my professional life? Is it possible?"
These questions are particularly important to me because my wife is completing her masters degree in speech pathology. We are planning to work to find this balance in our own lives because I know my wife would go insane if she didn't have professional work in the career she is passionate about.
The movies, television and music we consume often gravitate around violence, vice and viciousness. This leads to men who sexually assault women and women who believe they can't become more than what they are. Can the media we consume be used for good? I believe it can.
Colin Stokes gave a TED talk in November 2012 entitled "How movies teach manhood" wherein he highlights two movies, The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars. In the former, Dorothy saves the world through making friends and having influence for good. In the latter, Princess Leia waits around to be saved, in the end awarding the men with medals and a wink. I side with Stokes when he poses the probing question: "Why is there so much Force ... in the movies we have for our kids, and so little yellow brick road?"
Comic book artist Alison Bechdel created a test we can use on movies to assess if women are playing important roles we want our kids to see. First, is there more than one women with lines? Second, do the women speak to each other? And third, do they speak about something other than the guy they both love? If you can answer yes to these questions, then it passes the test. Chances are much of what we watch today fails this test. It's interesting to note that in 2011, only 11 of the top 100 movies had a female protagonist. Something needs to change.
Women are all these words: leaders, smart, influential, bosses. The media we consume is currently pushing us to forget this. We are the future of the movies and television future generations will consume. If we decide to help men and women see the powerful potential women have, then the number of women mistreated and misrepresented will surely go down. Women will be treated as they deserve to be. Women will win.