OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — The keynote speaker at the Queen of Hearts annual luncheon was a little tired. She had been up since 3 a.m. with her 8–month-old son. But Jennifer Seibel Newsom, wife of California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (but soon, I’m sure he will also be known as Jennifer’s husband) managed to inspire a room of 230 women Wednesday at the Resort at Squaw Creek for a private screening of a her film titled “Miss Representation.” The Queen of Hearts organization is a women’s philanthropic fund of the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation.
Seibel Newsom wrote, directed and produced the powerful documentary film in which she deftly builds a case showing how mainstream media both misrepresents women (too much time portrayed as sexual objects) and underrepresents women in positions of power and influence. Far too often women are recognized for how they look, rather than for what they think.
In her opening remarks, the likeable and approachable Seibel Newsom was an open book, describing her own traumatic childhood experiences and later issues, which have influenced the woman, now a mother of two young children, whom she has become.
A former film and TV actress, she ironically possesses the classic good looks about which the media obsesses, and in turn what young girls and women obsess about. Everyone in the audience connected with the message of the movie — many having participated in the women’s liberation movement of the 60s.
School-age girls in the audience also related to the message.
“I’m going to see if we can show the film at my school,” said North Tahoe High School senior Madison Ordway, who attended the luncheon.
The take-away for the afternoon was that women can empower themselves. They control 86 percent of the country’s purchasing power and can boycott those products that use advertising to objectify women. “We need more women in the trenches,” said Seibel Newsom.
“We can’t play political games when it comes to women’s issues,” she continued, citing New York’s junior Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as someone she respects for her gender equality work behind the scenes.
This country has only 17 percent of women in Congress and only six Governors. In terms of economic empowerment, less than three percent of women are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and 16 percent are on Fortune 500 corporate boards.
If this film continues to increase women’s awareness about these disparities, these numbers will increase. As one of the many printed quotes in the movie states: “Be the change you want to see in the world,” (Mahatma Gandhi).