The Junior League Meets ‘Miss Representation’

Once again confirming that this isn’t your mother’s junior league, The Junior League of the Quad Cities is sponsoring a screening of the acclaimed Sundance documentary Miss Representation. The screening is part of the JLQC’s “I am …” campaign, an initiative committed to improving the perception and self-image of women through leadership and empowerment to inspire change. The organization is partnering with Quad-City area schools to create a teen girls’ mentoring program as well as a community art project to explore how women in the community currently see themselves and create a platform for change.

In case you aren’t familiar with the film, director Jennifer Siebel Newsom explores how the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011 and was received so well, it immediately acquired the Oprah Winfrey Network for their documentary film club. Experts weigh in on everything from reality TV, to the 2008 presidential election, to commercials, television shows, and music videos. The film features interviews from Gloria Steinem, Geena Davis, Jane Fonda, Rachel Maddow, Condoleezza Rice. As Jane Fonda has said about women in media, “”Until more women wield the power to decide what movies and TV shows get made, Hollywood culture won’t really yield all the fascinating complexities that are the realities of women’s lives. Until then, we’re accepting supporting roles in an industry many of us have devoted our lives to.” Watch the trailer below.

It is a great to see a group like the Junior League support and start campaigns like this, of course, we shouldn’t be surprised. If you think The Junior League is a stuffy group of over-privileged women who just plan parties, then you are quite wrong. One hundred and eleven years ago, Mary Harriman, a 19-year-old New York City debutante with a social conscience, formed the Junior League for the Promotion of Settlement Movements. The group was predominantly made up of upper class young white women who didn’t have to work. But today, with 293 chapters in the U.S., UK, Mexico and Canada, members are very different. For example, look at Lauren M.G. Burt, the youngest Junior League of Des Moines president in the history of the 85-year-old women’s organization. “The stereotypes exist because they were true a very long time ago,” Burt said. “The Junior League is one of the oldest women’s organizations in the country, and began when women weren’t allowed in the work force. Now, I’m a 20-something woman. I’m single. I don’t have children. I work. Over 80% of our members are full-time workers.” Junior Leagues in all of these countries now include members of all cultures and backgrounds, both working and non-working women.

Just as the state of women in the workplace has evolved so has the institution of The Junior League. It is now a great place for career women to bond, network and promote women’s issues. The Junior League of the Quad Cities markets itself as “an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.”

After the film, JLQC will host a “Coffee & Conversation,” featuring opportunities to continue the discussion, talk to other women’s groups and enjoy dessert and coffee. For more information, go to their site.

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