Actress and activist Geena Davis spoke about women’s presence in the media at Scripps College in Claremont last week.
The entire Garrison Theatre was packed with people eager to hear Davis’ presentation.
Since the age of 3, Davis said she knew she wanted to be an actor. She refers to herself as an actor and not an actress because the dictionary definition of the word actor is ‘a person who acts,’ so she believes there should be no separation between men and women.
Davis began her career by following her dream and studying acting at Boston University.
“I always had this unshakeable faith that I would do what I wanted to do,” Davis said.
Now that she has been successful in her career, she spends most of her time advocating for women – in an effort to change the way media represents them.
According to results found by Davis’ Institute on Gender in Media, for every one woman seen in films, there are three men.
Davis’ research institute also found that at the rate the media is going women will achieve parity with men in 700 years.
“I have long been aware that there are fewer great parts out there for women,” Davis said.
Davis said that she started paying closer attention to women’s roles in G-rated films. By doing so, she realized that women in animated children’s shows wear the same amount of clothing as women in R-rated movies.
Davis also said she felt the problem went a little deeper. She quoted Bono, the lead singer of U2, and said she is a “factavist.” She needed to see the numbers to take some kind of action.
The results she came up with are astounding.
According to the White House Project, a non-profit women’s leadership organization, 17 percent of women hold high leadership positions in ten sectors of society.
Davis feels that women are missing in critical occupational sectors.
“How is it possible we think we’re so evolved when we’re ranked 90th in the world of women representation in politics,” Davis said. “Can you even name 90 countries?”
Davis believes that the media can change the problem they have created.
“The cure can come from the same source as the disease,” Davis said. “Life will imitate art.”
Davis used an example by referencing her career. She said it will take her years to actually become a nuclear physicist, but she can play one in a movie tomorrow to show women that they can become one.
“She did a great job,” Jane Condon, sophomore at Scripps, said. “She had nice points and she made something serious kind ƒof fun.”
Even though she said it was weird for her to speak in front of people because she still feels like that “gooney kid,” she managed to get her message across.
“Her speech was excellent,” Gina Munson, resident of Claremont, said. “She kept it light and funny and yet she still had stats to capture your attention.”
Davis did lighten up the mood of her speech with a few jokes, but she was still able to fill the audience with knowledge on the subject with many research statistics and information.
“It was very enlightening,” Angela Bailey, Upland resident, said.
Bailey had a connection with the speech because she used to work in entertainment.
“The portrayal of women in reality television is despicable,” Bailey said. “I had to get out.”
Davis is a firm believer that a huge impact is created by the image people see.
The media has to start representing women in a more positive and intelligent light, she said.
“Female characters so rarely have interesting traits,” Davis said. “They can’t all be hot. You have to make them something else.”
Sydney Daly-Weber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.