Jennifer Siebel Newsom came to Sonoma Feb. 3 with a 2-year-old in tow, and a message for the media: “Rewrite the story.”
Newsom, who arrived in a family sandwich including her parents and one of her three children, told a packed crowd at the Sebastiani Theatre that “only 3 percent of media positions of power are held by women.” The ancillary conclusion, she said, was that 97 percent of what we watch, hear and read comes from a male perspective.
Newsom, nationally-known for the documentary film she produced and directed on gender bias in the media – “Miss Representation” – explored that theme in conversation with Sydnie Kohara, a Bay Area TV news anchor now living in Sonoma. Newsom’s husband, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, was scheduled to appear with her but was delayed on the East Coast by a snowstorm.
“You really can’t be what you can’t see,” Newsom said, reiterating the mantra of her core message. And what too many women can’t see in media representations, she said, is an image of themselves that can be taken seriously, that transcends body and beauty, that stands on an equal footing with men.
Newsom described her reaction upon opening a present for 2-year-old Hunter and finding a blue T-shirt with the printed message, “Future President.” She was struck, she said, by the fact that her older daughter Montana had received no such message.