Geena Davis: Inspiring Awareness and Movement Against the Sexualization of Girls

“I’d rather be the girl playing baseball, than the girlfriend of the main character playing baseball.” – Geena Davis

Geena Davis’s roles in some of my favorite movies such as, Thelma and Louise and Beetle Juice, already creates huge respect for her acting skills. But before her appearance in the opening session at the SPARK Summit, I never knew Geena Davis had such influential effects in terms of fighting the sexist media we are surrounded with daily. Since she is an actor in the media industry, it was very interesting to hear that she is fighting against the institution she works for. Today, Davis only takes up acting roles in when women can “have a voice,” roles in which she is able to be a strong character, not just eye candy for the viewer.

The statistics she also provided were astonishing. For example, girls only make up 17% of group scenes in media, and are therefore completely outweighed by their male counterparts. Some of the statistics blew me away. I began to think ‘How many parents are letting their children watch such TV without seeing the true effects it is having?’ 3 year-olds are feeding into the ideals of sexist stereotypes and body image from the moment they turn on the TV for the first time. They are bombarded by the shows, movies, music, magazines, advertisements, phones and the internet before they even know it. I am 16, and yet I only just became aware of the huge impact that media has on my life; the huge negative impact. Think about how many sexist stereotypes have already been subconsciously drilled into my mind.

My cousin was only 5 when he created a Facebook page. This is a perfect example of how media plays a bigger role in our day-to-day lives now than it ever has before, especially with younger generations growing up right alongside the growing media industry. Statistics also show that the more TV a young girl watches, the more conscious and pressed she will feel to change her body, and lower self-esteem she will have.

It has also been shown, that the more TV a boy watches, the greater his sexist values will increase. But we can use technology to our advantage to stop its abuse through its sexual exploitation of girls and women, such as spreading awareness through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. It is important to take advantage of the media and make sure we grab up every opportunity we have to turn the industry against itself.

As she uses her spotlight in the media for such a cause as the sexual exploitation of girls and women in the media, Geena Davis is someone I now greatly admire. Davis has also taken up archery and has qualified for the Olympics as a form of empowerment and motivation which leads the way for many, like myself, to follow our dreams and ambitions with all our might. When I see influential figures such as Geena Davis do this kind of work, the power I feel that I can personally have against the sexual exploitation of girls and women through the media seems all the more possible, and all the more within reach.

4 thoughts on “Geena Davis: Inspiring Awareness and Movement Against the Sexualization of Girls

  1. I felt the same way when I just recently learned the small role that women play in film and on TV. I find myself thinking sexist-ly sometimes, when I see almost no men somewhere in the media and the women not playing their “usual” role, and I get a little weirded out because I am just not used to it. I think Davis actually made me realize why I feel like that when it comes to women and the media.

  2. The quote really shows you who owns the media. I would be shocked if a woman directed a movie where the women are just side roles and don’t have a significant role in the plot.

    One thing that stood out to me is the advice Geena Davis gave about counting how many women you see in a movie and what role they have in the movie. Recently for my history class I saw “Social Network” (although this movie is based off of real life incidents) which had about 4 roles by women. The first seen is of the girlfriend of Mark Z. She only had a couple parts in the movie. The second woman was a woman who was the “groupie” of Mark Z. and Eduardo. She was portrayed as the loose, ‘bitchy’, and annoying girlfriend of Mark Z. The third woman was the secretary of the Harvard president and she was black. Her only line was “mmmhm”. The fourth woman was (I don’t remember) but she wasn’t a lawyer/attorney, she was simply observing the questioning.

    I also think even without the media, if a young girl hears her sisters, cousins, and mother wanting to ‘lose weight’, the young girl will probably begin to feel she needs to do this thing called ‘losing weight’.

    I think slowly the media will change. From today’s assembly, there was a point made that if youth trend by buying from only ‘green’ shops that the rest of the stores would have to conform to get costumers. This makes me think, if as youth we don’t buy into some mainstream music that has obvious misogynistic ideas then maybe companies will begin to take them out to make money. All these companies want is money, let’s be honest.

  3. The quote you used from Gina Davis was inspiring. She is a woman who is true to the cause she is fighting for. I agree with you when you said that you were shocked by the statistics and the idea that television and all things media are very sexist. I never truly noticed it until after the summit, when I would look at shows and think “How many girls are in that and how many guys are in that?” The idea that your cousin is five and already has a facebook shocks me. I barely knew how to use a computer at five, let alone figure out something like facebook. That does prove that the media is a huge role in our lives. Not that being such a big role is a bad thing, it just becomes bad when it is interlaced with messages subtly degrading women.

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