See Jane is an organization created to help promote balanced gender roles in children's movies and television.
The organization studied the portrayal of boys/men vs. girls/women in the 101 top-grossing G-rated films released from 1990 through 2004, and they found that only 28 percent of speaking characters (both real and animated) were female. They believe that because young children are so impressionable, unbalanced gender roles in movies and TV shows can influence a child's understanding what it means to be male or female, and can promote gender stereotypes.
In a children's world that is saturated with Disney Princess products, it's nice to see a group promoting strong, positive children's characters - both male and female characters. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing all of the princess stuff; in fact, Cinderella is one of my favourite Disney movies, but you have to admit that Mulan is a much better role model for little girls. Every time I go into the pinkpinkpink 'girl' aisles Toys 'R' Us, I have the same thought: Girls' toys suck. In my opinion, tea sets, dress up clothes and a million dolls (including the skankily clad and heavily painted 'Bratz' dolls - there are some great role models) just aren't as fun as dinkie cars and Rescue Heroes gear. That's just my opinion. But what do most girl's toys teach little girls? Domesticated tasks - cooking, taking care of babies, how to look pretty... boy's toys seem to teach them how to look beyond their home lives to future adventures. I know there are examples of toys marketed to both genders that don't fit into those categories, but they seem to be the exception to the rule. Hopefully we'll see more though - kids need balance.
In an interesting social commentary, a female CNN anchor was more interested in talking to Geena Davis about her good-looking husband than about See Jane's campaign for improved gender roles in children's media. Hmmm... even though we at CNN are part of the media, let's not talk about gender stereotypes in media, let's talk about your hot husband instead. Sad.
There's an interesting post with comments about See Jane and gender roles on the blog The Lovely Mrs. Davis Tells You What To Think (I know what you're thinking, but "Mrs. Davis" is just a coincidence).
If you don't want to read it, or you'd like to know more, you can watch/listen to a webcast about See Jane's research results.
Interesting quotes from the webcast:
- "Looney Tunes has 12 characters and only 1 of them is female. But of course it’s everybody’s favorite, it’s Granny!"
- "In 1999, New York Times magazine figured out that if women were added to Congress at the same rate that they have been added, we would reach gender parity in 500 years. I don’t think we can wait that long for Congress and I certainly don’t think we can wait that long for the entertainments that our children are seeing. We can’t wait for the change to happen naturally. We’re going to have to push things along."