Geena Davis Discusses How Gender Inequality on TV and in Movies Impacts Kids

Posted on April 23, 2011


Geena Davis Discusses How Gender Inequality on TV and in Movies Impacts Kids – i fucking LOVE Geena Davis.

But in more recent years, she has become an advocate for gender equality in children’s entertainment. As founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, she aims to work with content creators to increase the number of girls and women in films and television shows aimed at kids…

And I was absolutely floored to see the same kind of gender bias and gender gap in what we’re showing little kids. She’d be on my lap and I’d be counting the characters on my fingers and thinking, “This is just not right.”

I didn’t intend to turn it into a whole institute or a whole new life for myself. But I started mentioning it around Hollywood. If I had a meeting with a studio executive or a producer, I’d say, “Hey, have you ever noticed how few female characters there seem to be in G-rated movies and things for kids?” And they pretty much across the board would say, “No. No, that’s not true anymore. That’s been fixed.”

So that’s what made me decide that I would need the facts and not just my impression. We raised some money, and we ended up doing the largest research study ever done on G-rated movies and television shows made for kids 11 and under. And the results were stunning.

What we found was that in G-rated movies, for every one female character, there were three male characters. If it was a group scene, it would change to five to one, male to female.

Of the female characters that existed, the majority are highly stereotyped and/or hypersexualized. To me, the most disturbing thing was that the female characters in G-rated movies wear the same amount of sexually revealing clothing as the female characters in R-rated movies.

MS. BLUMENSTEIN: What does a parent do? Is there evidence that the more TV and movies that kids watch—does it have an impact on them?

MS. DAVIS: Definitely. They found that the more hours of television a girl watches, the fewer options she believes she has in life. And the more hours a boy watches, the more sexist his views become.

What we recommend, and what I do with my kids, is watch with them.

They’re only allowed to watch TV if I’m there. And I make a running commentary the whole time to take away the negative impact, asking things such as: “Couldn’t a girl have played that part?” And there’s reason to believe that this is actually very effective.