Geena Davis, an actress who I must admit I know very little about, has recently conducted a study on representations of women and girls in popular media– specifically children’s movies and shows. The results are depressing, if not surprising.
In G Rated films (the top 101 grossing films from 1990-2005– not sure why CNN just put out this info now)
- Fewer than 1 out of 3 (28%) of the speaking characters are female– both animated and live action
- More than 4 out of 5 (83%) of narrators are male
- 85.5% of the characters are white, 4.8% are black, 9.7% are “other
When they broadened their scope to include the top grossing PG, PG13, and R movies, 73% of the characters were male. Also, females were 5 times more likely than men to be seen in sexy clothes and 3 times as likely to be thin.
The tidbit that floored me: female characters in G movies rated movies “wear virtually the same amount of sexually revealing clothing as female characters in R rated movies,” according to Davis in this CNN video [emphasis added].
The website with all the research is here, and kudos to Davis for providing such a clear, extensive study. I find myself referencing “representations of women in the media” a lot, and it’s so helpful to have specifics like this to point to. It’s also wonderful that she’s focusing on children’s media– as Davis says:
If we have such devaluing and disempowering images from the first media that women consume, it sets the table and enculturates yet another generation of children into seeing women and girls as lesser status than boys and men.
Right on. I knew there was a reason I didn’t like Disney movies as a kid– if you don’t like princesses, there’s really not that much on the table.