"It's unusual in that it has two really wonderful parts for women."

That was one of Geena Davis' first impressions about Thelma and Louise, said, sadly, with genuine pleasant surprise. The dearth of women's roles in film is certainly not a new subject, nor is the particular issue of the absence of female characters in children's entertainment—something we've discussed here before, as I lamented that "even though Leia and Eowyn were both great heroines, it seemed to me as though girls who were smart and tough were always segregated away from other women." Even when we're there, we're there alone.

Davis recently spoke to the National Conference for Media Reform about female images in children's programming, and it is a powerful 22 minutes that I highly recommend. For those who can't view the video, I transcribed a bit below. Consider, as you watch/read, my oft-repeated refrain: Telling a girl since birth that she is equal matters little if she travels within a culture that consistently sends signals to the contrary.

"The very first thing [See Jane] did was to raise enough funds to sponsor the largest content analysis study ever done of G-rated movies…because we thought that, without the hard facts, it's going to be hard to convince people. We don't want to go in to the people who make these programs and movies and say, 'Our impression is that there are fewer female characters.' We wanted the results and the data, and the results we stunning, in fact.

"Three out of four characters in G-rated movies are male. We studied the top 100 movies released from 1990 to 2005. Of characters shown in groups, only 17% were female, and, of the few female characters that were in these movies, most of them were highly stereotyped. And, by the way, during this 15-year period, there was zero improvement as far as the percentage of female characters. So you have to think: 'What message is our culture still sending to kids?' That women and girls are worth less, and their worth is different than men and boys.

"What if, partly because the media children are seeing from the very beginning, programming that's aimed at our very youngest kids, have this huge imbalance, it's affecting them when they're adults?

"…Frankly, my dream is, in five years, that if a movie came out with only one female character, every reviewer would notice. … We've got to start noticing the absence of girls."

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