Editor’s Note: This blog was written by Vision 2020 Tennessee Delegate Patricia Pierce.
Geena Davis is not only a beautiful woman, an amazing actor, a world class athlete, an intellectual genius–she is a strong advocate for women and girls! I had the privilege to hear her speak at Lipscomb University in Nashville recently. She talked about her acting career and some memorable moments in her life, but she spoke passionately about her Institute and research. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and its programming arm, See Jane, are at the forefront of changing female portrayals and gender stereotypes in children’s media and entertainment arenas. The Institution’s research has spotlighted the prevalence of gender equalities at every media and entertainment company. They found that in family films, there is only one female character for every three male characters. In group scenes, only 17% of the characters are female. The Institute is “the only research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need for gender balance, reducing stereotyping, and creating a wide variety of female characters for entertainment targeting children 11 and under. The research spans more than 20 years. The mission of the Institute is “to work within the entertainment industry to dramatically alter how girls and women are reflected in media.”
Geena said she is very concerned about the message the media is sending young girls and boys. She noted that the more hours a girl watches TV, the fewer options she sees she has. Unfortunately, the more boys watch, the more options they see they have and too many are sexual options. She commented that the more they see it the more they think they can be it! The idea of “see it–be it” was echoed throughout the program. Geena’s Institute has is making a difference even though she calls herself an “impatient optimist.” She wants change to happen faster and so should we! We need to pay attention to the movies our children and grandchildren watch. We want to give them positive role models, so they can “see it–be it”!
It is clear to me why Vision 2020 presented Geena Davis with their first “Visionary Award” at the Congress held in Philadelphia October 2010.