Geena Davis: ’13 yo female characters are as sexualized as 39 yo characters’

Geena Davis is fighting the good fight for women’s representation in film and the small screen with her nonprofit, The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. The Geena Davis Institute works to increase awareness and make changes around issues like stereotyping, a dearth of women in key roles, and lack of women on screen. As part of that, they analyze films and television to get statistics on women on screem. I was about to take The Daily Mail to task for just focusing on how great Geena looked at the Sundance film festival (where she was promoting her Bentonville Film Festival). They also posted an interview where she dropped some pretty thought-provoking facts I thought would make a better subject for the story, but it’s one of those older interviews which outlets stick into new stories as filler. (I hate when they do that, but at least it’s not on autoplay.) Here’s what she said and again these quotes are old but I wanted to talk about them.

Our research shows that female characters are highly sexualized. Our global research shows that 13 year-old characters are equally sexualized as 39 year-old characters, which is horribly destructive and disgusting. So we really need to discuss it” [From video on Daily Mail]

That’s so depressing to me. Part of me doesn’t believe it, but the Geena Davis Institute of course has the hard facts to back this up because facts matter despite what gaslighting leaders say. Representation and portrayal of women and girls matters too and by having the facts we can help call for change. That’s why certain segments of the population hate facts. See how that works?

Geena is also promoting Dear Angelica, a new 12 minute animated VR story for the Oculus Rift. It’s roughly based on her life and is about the love between a mother and daughter. It features the voices of Geena and Mae Whitman. You can see a quick video about it on YouTube. It premieres on the Oculus Rift on Friday. We have an HTC Vive, which is decent, but I so want to see this. There’s such a problem with the way women are portrayed in video games especially and projects like this help.




Photos credit: WENN, FameFlynet and Getty

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34 Responses to “Geena Davis: ’13 yo female characters are as sexualized as 39 yo characters’”

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  1. Greenieweenie says:

    Because the Lolita storyline–the coming of age story where somehow puberty=initiation into sex–is so popular among filmmakers, I’m

    • milla says:

      I was just thinking the same.

      Can it change? Doubt it. But at least she is talking about it… That is a start.

    • EMAu says:

      Let’s not forget, back in the era of Lolita, there was one Lolita. Today we are bombarded with sexualised images on social media. Every reality TV show has sexualisation. People like the Kartrashians promote sexualisation to young girls and so on. So there is no comparison between the time Lolita came out and now.

  2. Aims says:

    Facts are the facts , despite what certain people think. It’s so weird . I feel like I’m living in the twilight zone . Real things like sexual harassment , science , health care to name a few are twisted and disputed. The reason something makes sense is because it’s true.

  3. Melody says:

    Not to mention the de-sexualization of women over 40…

    • Shirleygail says:

      I love that Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are blowing the de-sexualiation of women over a certain age all to hell and back. And the writers, producers, and Netflix, for their programming! It is an amazing series.

    • Madailein says:

      Yes. If anything, young teenage girls are far, FAR more sexualized than 39 year old women, at least in Hollywood. In fact, by 39, most Hollywood actresses are considered too “over the hill” to be sexualized. I’m surprised she didn’t mention that part of the equation. Perhaps she meant to say 29–or should have.

  4. Ramona says:

    Last I checked 39 year olds are almost exclusively either asexual relatives or work colleagues. Honestly I would say theres likely more 13 year old sexualistion

    Also, my biggest pet peeve in “family sitcoms” is the obligatory episode where the boy of the family falls for a girl who is supposedly out of his league. She is usually an age mate but so vamped up, its scary. Theres also invariably either a scene in which the dad or older male figure makes a comment about how hot she is OR one of the women, maybe the mum, smacks an older male for ogling the vamped child.

  5. Kasia says:

    To change it male directors, the only kind who have power in Hollywood, would have to change it and they are disinclined to do so. Why? When Woody Allen can have a lovely career after everything he’s done why would anyone else care about the message they’re sending about a young girl’s worth and mindset.

    Boys will be boys well into their 60’s…a claim made during grabherbythepussy-gate. Girls are women the moment some adult man decides he’s sexually attracted to her..

    • Kiki says:

      That’s is why women will have FIGHT. That’s why there is Woman’s March in America’s cities and around the world last week. This is where women will have to say “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”. It is just disgusting that an older male would be attracted to a someone under the age of 18 or women under the age of 30 being the object of man’s affection that is almost 50. But what do you expect for men including high place, who think women should know their place. Especially politicians who wants to defund Plannned Parenthood and erase abortion laws. Aren’t there men who feels our empathy? A lot of them but they are over powered by a**holes and perverts, and a few of them don’t have backbones (yes I am talking to you P*ssy Paul Ryan).

      So as a strong woman myself, I told by my great aunt and mother ” if someone stepped on your toes, you say ouch!” and “if you can’t anyone to do it for you, you might as well do it yourself”


  6. L84Tea says:

    This is actually a topic that Geena Davis has been vocalizing for a LONG time. I recall years back there was a magazine (I’m blanking on the name but it was big and thick and was THE movie magazine in the 90’s…ugh, anyone?) that did this big spread and article about young upcoming actresses (I remember specifically Christine Ricci was in the article right before she played Wednesday Addams) and each layout of the girls were–at the time–pretty risqué and definitely had a Lolita vibe to them. The following month or so Geena Davis wrote a letter to the editior that they printed in the magazine where basically went off about how sexualized all the girls looked in the article. She was very disgusted. I remember that so clearly.

  7. Original T.C. says:

    I really hate the acceptance of pairing 18-24 year olds with men in their 40’s and 50’s. That is one of the reasons, as good as they are, I can’t stand to watch many old Hollywood movies where it’s so obvious that the love interest of a young lady is some who looks like her Dad or grandfather. It still continues to this day.

    • Jennie Hix says:

      For some reason, this really struck me with Dumb & Dumber 2. I watched the first one when I was a kid, when Harry & Lloyd were grownups to me. Fast forward to the second film and Lloyd is hitting on a girl who is already younger than me. Lloyd seemed so much older than the girl, but I don’t recall the age difference ever being brought up. It was treated as just…completely normal.

      I thought it was weird.

    • pinetree13 says:

      YES I also hate this.

      Honestly it really contributes to me having a hard time with aging. I’m only mid 30’s but constantly bombarded with stupid articles and shows and movies that reinforce over and over and over that only women in their mid 20’s and younger are ‘desirable’. I try to ignore it but at the end of the day…yeah it affects me negatively.

  8. Tris says:

    She’s awesome, and this statistic is terrible, thank god she is fighting the good fight. So, I guess it would be beyond bitchy of me to comment on her bizarre red droopy-right-boob dress, right? OK, I won’t.

    *correction: droopy-left-boob-dress

    • Dolkite says:

      I really wish she was still an A-list star, and I think it’s great to see such a tall woman. I “see Geena” every day because if I look to my left, there’s a six-foot-by-four-foot French subway poster from Beetlejuice (though the artist drew her eyeline to match the neckline of co-star Alec Baldwin (headless in the pic), who is slightly shorter than her in real life.)

  9. kimbers says:

    I dont watch movies where the man is 20+ years older than the lady is, bc i dont have a daddy issue, and it has always grossed me out. Why can’t older men find women their own age? It’s so creepy

  10. Wiffie says:

    thinking about my almost 2 and 4 year old daughters, and only 19% off kid shows have a gender balanced (45-55% female) storyline? the stats in that report are crazy.

    this is where I feel like the star wars (first of the newest ones) was absolutely revolutionary. it had a female lead, was not considered a chick flick, and the part that I kept waiting for and was ECSTATIC never came, was the backhanded-complimentary impressed look from others when noticing her piloting skills, or other skills. I was subconsciously waiting for that “well, look at you” look from one of the male characters. then I became conscious of it and I REALLY started paYing attention. and when that line never happened and nobody blinked or looked twice at her gender, I celebrated and actually got choked up. here was the biggest movie in the world with a female lead and nobody thought twice about it, boys didn’t care and the fact they didn’t was actually amazing and hopeful.

    • NortherGirl_20 says:

      Yes!! One of the many reasons I love Star Wars

    • lucy2 says:

      I love that both TFA and Rogue One had female leads, where the fact that they were a “girl” didn’t have anything to do with anything, and there was no romantic side story for either of them. Other filmmakers likely would have made those roles male right off the bat without a second thought, so I’m very thankful for both films.

  11. Lena says:

    I love how she truly works to give cold hard facts on the gender imbalance. She really puts the issue first and doesn’t just use it to self promote or something, please continue to feature her and her work!

  12. Yygg says:

    Definitely support her research, as it has important insights but it seems to put 13-20 year olds as one category, I think we can all agree that this age category probably should be broken out further to be a strong demonstration of her point.(unless I missed something in the article, since only took a glance)

  13. chick b. says:

    Me too. That’s the first thing that came to me while reading about the institute. I remember there was some kind of back and forth and Davis doubled down. I think Ricci’s people may have even gotten involved, like ‘it’s all fine!’ and Davis was ‘NOT fine! She’s a kid!’.

    This was at the dawn of the Stripping is a Successful Career Path for Women era, so I just floved Geena for speaking out.

  14. I Choose Me says:

    I love Geena Davis and I miss her in movies. Long Kiss Goodnight is one of my favourite movies ever, ever. I also love Hero in which she co-stars with Dustin Hoffman. I have such admiration for her for doing her part in combating sexism and rape culture. I’m not familiar with Oculus Rift but I want to see the animation so off to Google.

    • Shirleygail says:

      I didn’t like Hero that much, but still, to this day, watch Leage of Their Own. Such a great depiction of history. She has fought long and hard and I hope with all my heart she can keep on keeping on, because from here on in, it will get much harder for us all.

  15. EMAu says:

    Geena Davis is the most intelligent female actress, hands down.

  16. alternative fact says:

    I’m not surprised.

    There’s a really interesting documentary series called “America The Beautiful” which examines various cultural standards in America. The 3rd installment covers the sexualization of children. Just thought I’d post in case anyone was interested. (trailer below)

  17. lucy2 says:

    Geena has been fighting this fight for a long time. If you are on facebook, you can follow her work at the “Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.” They post a lot of really great articles and links, and support female filmmakers both in front of and behind the camera, as well as other industries too.

  18. Tanakasan says:

    but yet teens obsessed with showing their butts,boobs, and crotches on instagram are SUPER FEMINIST GUYZ! STOP SLUT SHAMING!!!111