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Last night I attended a UK screening of Miss Representation Jennifer Siebel Newsom‘s documentary that looks at how the US media portrays women and young girls. This event was hosted by Women in Film and TV and Amnesty International UK.

Just watch the trailer and you’ll get a taste of the heart-lurching-lump-in-your-throat feeling that this film evokes. The opening still displays a quote from Alice Walker “The most common way that people give up their power is by thinking that they don’t have any”. This is followed by a montage of sexualised, violent and demeaning images of women cut between quotes from contributors about the media’s treatment and representation of women and the impact on society. From the start, you know that this is a campaigning film, designed to provoke its audience into action.

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Last Thursday (2nd Feb) I attended a lecture held at Amnesty International’s offices in London to hear Judith Butler and Sudeep Dasgupta discuss ‘paternalism’. The event was organised and curated by the Institute of International Visual Arts, Iniva, which programmes exhibitions, learning and research projects that seek to engage with new ideas and emerging debates in the contemporary visual arts, reflecting in particular the cultural diversity of contemporary society.

This event, part of Iniva’s ‘Keywords’ series of lectures takes its title from Raymond Williams’ seminal book ‘Keywords: a Vocabulary of Culture and Society’ (1976) which looks at how the meaning of words change as the context in which they are used changes about them. Each lecture invites different theorists, academics, artists to consider words such as ‘class’, ‘postcolonial’ and evaluate or respond to their meaning in contemporary society.

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