“Through Their Gazes” Confronts Female Representation in Media

Last week, the symposium “Through their Gazes: Women on Screen and Intersectional Feminism” kicked off.

Professors Francesca Calamita and Shilpa Davé are co-sponsoring this initiative, which was made possible through an Inclusion and Diversity grant from the College of Arts & Sciences. The Media Studies Department, the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality and the Institute of World Languages have also provided support for the cause.

The goal of “Through their Gazes” is to call attention to how male directors have historically dominated cinema and visual media.

“Despite the growing number of women filmmakers…the heterosexual white male gaze is regarded by mainstream society as canonical,” said Calamita.

The panelists at the symposium were from the University of Virginia and elsewhere abroad. Speakers also came from different disciplines such as media studies, languages, and women’s gender and sexuality, highlighting the all-encompassing nature of the event.

One of the panels focused on “Action Women and Popular Culture.” Panelists included professors Andrea Press, Sarah Annunziato, and Shilpa Davé from UVa and Marjorie Rosen from Lehman College, CUNY.

“Framing our symposium in intersectional feminism, our aim is to focus on women directors who are making films that increasingly foreground a desire to engage, create, and conceive of female subjectivity on screen in different cultures and through diverse experiences,” Calamita noted.

Calamita explained how television has historically objectified women and stereotypical representations must change.

“[They have] portrayed us as madonnas or [prostitutes]. It’s time to reward more women for their work as filmmakers and actresses in terms of visibility but also salary and awards. There is a lot to do in cinema, media, advertisements, but also academia,” the professor concluded.

The initiative will continue with a screening of We Want Roses Too, an award-winning documentary film on the sexual revolution and feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The screening will take place next week on March 23rd at 4pm in Minor Hall 125. Acclaimed director, Alina Marazzi, will be present for a question and answer session.

Calamita aims for the symposium to continue throughout next year.


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