Report on the Task Force on the Image of Women – 1967

“Stronger than a hundred armies is the force of an idea whose time has come.”

“You cannot reason a man out of a position he didn’t reason himself into.”

The first thing that comes up in all meetings on the image of women is that we certainly do not yet know everything there is to know about the nature, origins, and force of the image of women presented to our society by its mass media, This is an honest concern. Nevertheless, this task force has resolved that, while we don’t know everything there is to know, we know enough to begin to take action. We know at least that the mass media’s image of woman is not realistic, and that we have ideas about more realistic images to supersede the current ones.

The Image Committee will probably function as a two-pronged force: immediate action and continuing research. Because of limited resources we set a priority on action now.

The mass media are defined as TV and Radio; commercial advertising; newspapers, news services and national magazines; textbooks; and language itself.

The audience is all of society: men, women, girl children, boy children, and institutions and communities. We wish to reach all these people, but in particular we wish to reach women and girls with models which will enable them to form a new self-image; one which more closely matches their reality as independent, rational, vital, growing, curious, inquiring homo sapiens (or perhaps I should say mulier sapiens).

We would conclude that our most powerful potential tool for myth-shattering is the mass medium of TV. Accordingly, we outline specific goals and initial recommendations for their accomplishment in this area,

1. Goal – Increase the number of models of healthy, happy women with expertise and contributions to make in areas which may include but are not restricted to home-making and child-rearing,

Method – Local chapters assemble lists of the female resources of the community, approach the producers of local public affairs shows requesting a real effort to find women to appear on these shows as experts (e.g. in air pollution, city planning, the arts, not just the role of woman) and be prepared to aid the local media outlets in finding such people.

2. Goal – The entertainment shows which are based on the facts of daily life more accurately reflect the many roles which women fill in our present society.

Method – This must be developed by the task force as a top priority in 1968.

3. Goal – Personal models of mulier sapiens for young girls.

Method – establishment of speakers’ bureaus on the local and national levels.

Miscellaneous Comments:

We feel that we must be able to present a plethora of new images of women to supplement the aproned mother. The vital career woman is one. There are many more.

There are single women who are home-makers. There are women who work primarily because they are breadwinners, rather than because they have profession or are seeking stimulations outside the family circle. And concurrently with presenting new images of women, we must develop and present new images of men.

Our numbers are small but our potential power may be relatively large. Some techniques which we may use are consumer pressure, pressure on one medium through another (i.e. letters to the editor criticizing TV shows) both techniques in which one articulate individual can accomplish virtually as much as a hundred silent armies.

In conclusion, we request approval of the following two resolutions for immediate action:

1. We urge that all local NOW chapters will have approached local TV outlets to stimulate the greater representation of women on public affairs shows by the end of the first quarter of 1968, having previously prepared themselves to provide, where necessary, the names of such women.

2. We urge that all local chapters and the national structure have formally organized a speakers bureau by spring of 1968.

3. We request that our report with its awareness of needs which must be further explored and for which specific modi operandi must be further developed be adopted by this conference.

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