Gender stereotyping in popular media

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Gender stereotyping in popular media

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One of the things we look for in kids media is gender stereotyping where either male or female characters are narrowly defined. In other words, that a male character has to be macho and tough or that a female character very often is passive, is not involved in the main plot. She's the girlfriend of somebody who's having the adventure. She's beautiful. She usually doesn't have an occupation. So those are stereotypes that in many ways don't even exist in real life anymore. 50% of the workforce is now female in the United States. Only 20% of characters with jobs being female doesn't really relate to real life anymore, but that's a sort of classic stereotype, and it is wildly prevalent in media that's made for kids. It's almost like we're showing kids a '50s version of society where the male characters hold jobs and the female characters are passive and supporting. One of the really negative stereotypes in media is hypersexuality, which is so prevalent in kids entertainment that it's really quite shocking. We found that in G-rated animated movies, the female characters wear the same amount of sexually revealing clothing as the female characters in R-rated movies. So what is that doing? What does that say? We're really sending a message to boys and girls that girls must be attractive and sexy even from a very young age.

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Geena Davis

Academy Award Winning Actor & Founder of Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

Academy Award winner Geena Davis is one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, appearing in several roles that became cultural landmarks. Earning the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama, Davis broke ground in her portrayal of the first female President of the United States in ABC’s hit show “Commander in Chief.”In 1989, Davis received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the offbeat dog trainer Muriel Pritchett in Lawrence Kasdan’s “The Accidental Tourist.” She was again nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for her performance in Ridley Scott’s “Thelma & Louise,” in which she co-starred with Susan Sarandon. Davis went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of baseball phenomenon Dottie Hinson in “A League of Their Own.” Davis made her feature film debut starring opposite Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie.” She went on to star in such films as “The Fly,” “Beetlejuice,” “Angie,” “The Long Kiss Goodnight,” and “Stuart Little.”

Few have achieved such remarkable success in as many different fields as Davis has: she is not only an Oscar and Golden Globe winning actor, but a world-class athlete (at one time the nation’s 13th-ranked archer), a member of the genius society Mensa, and is becoming recognized for her tireless advocacy of women and girls nearly as much as for her acting accomplishments. She is the founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which engages film and television creators to dramatically increase the percentages of female characters – and reduce gender stereotyping – in media made for children 11 and under.

Davis was appointed Special Envoy for Women and Girls in ICT for the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Davis is also an official partner of UN Women, working toward their goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women worldwide. Davis is the Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women. Davis holds honorary degrees from Boston University, Bates College and New England College. 

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