Geena Davis Is Doing The Real Work

Just after I gave my TEDx talk, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media released a report on their most recent findings. Mother Jones pulled a few I could have used:

I chose to focus my talk on kids' movies (and on gender) because they allow me to make a simpler argument than I could get away with on the subject of all popular culture or all aspects of privilege. We don't expect kids to have learned critical thinking skills yet, so filmmakers ought to take more responsibility for the subtext their stories embed. (I believe all filmmakers, and all artists, ought to be conscious of the unspoken messages of their work, but whether an adult work promotes a message by exposing it is much more complicated.) And while market forces are plausibly linked to a majority population being overrepresented in popular culture, the fact than men are not the majority of potential moviegoers makes their dominance in representation more obviously out of proportion.

But I think gender in kids movies is one of a large number of intersecting ways that a dominant culture encodes its rules of who gets what. And if you're one of the people that the dominant culture wants to exclude--or you're a member of the dominant culture who doesn't want to perpetuate the exclusion--you should wake up to as many unspoken messages as you can.

Read the Mother Jones post and the full report for more statistics that show the continuum from family films to our mainstream adult entertainment.


  1. Those statistics are pretty interesting, and they got me thinking of the television I watch and grew up on. I've been sitting here for a few minutes trying to name one movie with a female narrator, and just can't do it! The statistic on percentage of woman in family films wearing sexy attire is sad, but I can't say that it's shocking. It's a pretty pathetic reality that the phrase "sex sells" apples to family films, too.

  2. The statistic about percentage of characters wearing sexy attire by gender really got me thinking. Looking back at children movies, it is very clear to me now that females wear much more revealing and sexual clothing compared to the males. I think this is done to be a way to show children that women are strong, independent and need to be confident in themselves. But also, on the other hand, I still think women can be portrayed as all of these things in a more appropriate or less revealing attire. Kids look at these characters and want to be just like them and I understand that the idea of an independent and strong women is being forced but it needs to be shown in a better manner to such young children.

  3. Thinking back on watching kid tv shows and movies, I always thought of a girl who was a damsel in distress, or hung up on a boy. I personally think if we have more characters like Rupunzel in Tangled, or like the lead character in Brave. They are great role models for today's society of women.


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