We are what we repeatedly see

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– We Do It Together talks about Gender Parity at World Economic Forum-

Chiara Tilesi, Founder of We Do It Together, a Production company based in Los Angeles that aims to create and promote gender parity in the film and entertainment industry, is one of the special guests at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting that took place in Davos, Switzerland (January 22-25, 2019).

Tilesi was invited as a Cultural Leader, a person “whose leadership inspires inclusive and sustainable change”. With her, among the others, there were Haifaa al Mansour (member of the board of We Do It Together), Marin Alsop, Sir David Attenborough, Bono, David Blaine, Karan Johar, Michelle Yeoh.

On Tuesday, January 22nd, Tilesi gave a thoughtful speech at the Betazone Session: The Female Icon, focusing her attention on how women are portrayed in our culture, art, literature, entertainment, and how this image affects the idea our society has of them.

She started by quoting Aristotele, the philosopher that once said that “we are what we repeatedly do”, and then proceeded with a provocation: perhaps, nowadays, he would say that “we are what we repeatedly see”.

Tilesi’s analysis and speech begun with Cinderella (one of the many women, in storytelling, who had as a sole main goal to marry the Prince, the only mean towards happiness and fulfillment) to social media.

In all these years, most of the content we have seen in different media, showed us perfect women, who don’t age, whose skin, body, eyes and hair are flawless. Most importantly, women who are always portrayed as objects. This, indeed, was one of Chiara Tilesi’s main invitation to both men and women: to stop portraying women as objects, according to the rules, trends and decrees of society.

To sustain this purpose, Tilesi also introduced a campaign she launched this year, entitled “Be the Subject, not the Object”. The campaign sees a group of 10 internationally renowned artists along with Director Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri offering their own interpretations of a “subject” through individual visual art pieces of successful women who are changing the world; the first piece being created was on Beatrice Fihn (Nobel Peace Prize 2017 for ICAN). 

Tilesi, whose main focus is cinema, stated some preoccupying statistics in this medium as well: not only the majority of female characters in 2017 were in their 20s (32%) and 30s (25%), but their roles were defined by their relationships with men rather than their own goals. Moreover, even behind the camera the numbers are strongly against women: directors are 92% male, writers are 90% male and editors are 86% male. Tilesi stressed once more the importance of hiring more women in film, in front and behind the camera.

To explore even more this important issue, We Do It Together is producing a documentary entitled “Reflections” directed by Katia Lund. This project aims to explore American culture and the way images and their perpetration have shaped women and men.

This is indeed another important thought that Tilesi shared with her audience: through this documentary, they realized even more how dangerous these stereotypes and their continuous reiteration are for men as well. The fact that they are described as strong and successful, without being allowed to cry and letting it go, creates a tremendous pressure on men as well. On this matter, there is a social movement called “Man Enough”, which aims to explore and challenge the traditional masculinity, answering an increasing need that sees men willing to come together, talk and be themselves despite all the rules and stigmas that want them as heroic and stoic individuals.

The fact that both men and women are affected and suffer from the portrait that media make of them is evident in social media as well. Both men and women compare themselves to what they see – usually an image of perfection that doesn’t represent reality at all -, shaping their thoughts, ideas and choices around what they are fed daily as the ideal representation.

Tilesi concluded her speech with another provocation, reminding the audience that media are also a very powerful tool that can be used to positively promote a change. “The years 2017 and 2018 have been—without a doubt—an awakening for the world as far as the role of women. The path is still long, but we have seen significant results.”, Tilesi said.

On January 24, WDIT has also been honored with the “Goodwill Champions: The Wave Makers” award by HCL, which during their social awards night honored people and organizations that prove their everyday philanthropy.

The world is moving forward, with little steps that we should all support and keep promoting with active and aware content.

“I know it is happening, and I know that we can make it happen sooner together. Let’s all be active in this awakening, and let’s make sure that our storytelling will always include men and women, different but equal.”