By Ken Borsuk
The Stamford Advocate, Conn.
Geena Davis did not appear as the keynote speaker at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation Fund for Women and Girls annual luncheon Thursday to simply bring some Oscar-winning glamor to Greenwich.
She came with data about the challenges women face in how they are portrayed in movies, video and on television.
“The message that media sends is that women and girls have far less value than men and boys,” Davis said to a packed crowd of an estimated 700 people at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich hotel in Old Greenwich.
“In family-rated films, for every one female character that’s a speaking character, there are three male characters. The research also shows in children’s media, the vast majority are narrowly stereotyped and/or hyper sexualized,” she said.
In G-rated films, the female characters wore the same amount of sexually revealing clothing as in R-rated ones, she said, which leads girls as young as 6 to see themselves as sexual objects and leads boys to believe sexist things about the value and role of women.
In films, 81 percent of jobs are held by male characters and the role of females is often to serve as eye-candy. The problem is global, she said, one where women are not seen in movies in high-powered political or science and technology positions.
Davis said the ratio of female to male characters in movies has not changed since 1946.
The data Davis quoted was original research from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a nonprofit group she formed to try improving gender balance, reduce stereotyping and create diverse female characters in entertainment for children age 11 and younger.
“I chose to focus on what kids see first,” Davis said. “It’s just common sense. Don’t create a problem you have to solve later on. Let’s show them boys and girls sharing the sandbox equally. Let’s show girls doing interesting things. Let’s make sure people remember, by the way, that we are half of the population.