At some point in her life, just about every girl dreams of being an actress, lighting up the silver screen in daring and glamorous roles. But in her presentation in the Hariri building yesterday, Academy-Award winner Geena Davis explained why, in this age, such aspirations are very difficult to achieve.
The McDonough School of Business and the Georgetown University Women’s Leadership Initiative welcomed Davis to campus yesterday afternoon as part of the MSB’s Distinguished Leaders Lecture Series. Davis shared with the audience the work of her non-profit organization, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which researches why modern cinema features so few women in strong roles and seeks to raise awareness in filmmakers about this disparity.
The Institute has undertaken the largest amount of research that has ever been done on how women are portrayed in films and television. The findings are often sought out by non-governmental organizations, and companies concerned with female empowerment.
Davis began her mission when she noticed the gender imbalance in the films targeted at her young children.
“I was so horrified at what they were watching,” she said. “ Unconsciously, they’re just taking in this message that girls are less important than boys.”
The Institute has found that female characters generally fit a weak, over-sexualized mold. “In animated films, most of the female characters have a body type that couldn’t exist in real life… they very often don’t have room for a spinal column!” Davis said.
At 6’1”, Davis does not fit this stereotype of female physicality. She started her career in modeling in attempt to segue into acting, but was very self-conscious about her height and looks.
“I was so sure that I was not attractive and that I was tricking them somehow, that I knew how to act that my butt looked good,” she said.