Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Public symposium April 16 at SMU to address societal expectations of gender

WINONA, Minn. — A public symposium titled “In the Looking Glass,” hosted by Saint Mary’s University’s Saint Teresa Institute on Tuesday, April 16, is designed to increase awareness of how the media influences societal expectations of women and men.

The event will be held from 5:15 to 8:15 p.m. in the World Room, located in SMU’s Hendrickson Center.

The evening will begin with the film, “Miss Representation,” a documentary film that explores how mainstream media contributes to the under-representation of women in influential positions by circulating limited — and often disparaging — portrayals of women. The film will be followed by dinner and a small group discussion.

Participants can then choose from several breakout sessions including:

• Who Wants to be a Porn Star? Sex and Violence in Today’s Pornography Industry— with Rosa Edholm, president of the Saint Teresa Institute and an SMU senior. (Must be 18 or older due to graphic nature.) This video slideshow offers an incredibly disturbing glimpse into the correlation between objectification, pornography and rape culture.

• Unrealistic expectations and Body Image Distortion— with Kelsey Brekke, Bridget Ryan, and Lexi Assimos of the Body Image Collaborative Lab at SMU. This discussion will focus on media influence on development of unrealistic body image ideals and subsequent body image distortion. Current research will be considered, as will the repercussions of body image distortion in eating and health behaviors.

• Gender as Portrayed in News and Entertainment Media — with Dr. Steven Schild, associate professor of social science at SMU. There’s no question that there’s gender bias in at least some media portrayals. That bias, though, isn't always as one-dimensional as you might think. Schild will examine and discuss items from news accounts as examples of gender bias that cuts two ways.

• The Image of Pageantry — with Serica Rowley, Miss Winona and a current SMU student.

What images comes to mind when you think of the Miss America or the Manhunt beauty pageants? Were you even aware of the Manhunt pageant? Join Miss Winona for this session to explore the myths and truths of beauty pageants.

At 7:45 p.m., the event’s keynote speaker, Dr. Trisha Karr, assistant professor of psychology at SMU, will tie the evening’s themes together. Karr has done extensive research on the body image of athletes.

For more information or to register online, go to by April 10. SMU students will be admitted for free; others are asked to pay a $12 dinner fee.