Like so many other Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada programs the National Service Project: EmPOWERing Girls strives to show Canadian girls that they have a voice and the power to change the world around them. But are the great efforts of our women Guiders and female role models being undermined by popular culture? Last week, as the world celebrated the establishment of UN Women as a voice for women and girls around the world, actress Geena Davis took the opportunity to speak out about gender stereotypes in the entertainment industry.
“Gender stereotypes remain deeply entrenched in today’s entertainment and there has been no significant progress over the last 20 years,” Davis said at a gala at the UN headquarters pointing out that currently there is one female character for every three males in films and TV dramas. “Our research shows that from 2006 to 2009 not one female character was depicted in family films in the field of science, as a business leader, in the law profession or in politics.” “What message are we sending to girls if there are so few female characters? If the characters are devalued, stereotyped, sidelined or simply not there at all” Davis asks. “And what message are boys taking in about the importance, value and worth of girls?”.
How do we counteract the messages girls receive from popular culture?
By Nisha, GGC staff
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I think talking about it is important. My problem with the media isn’t how many women are actually acting, it’s more along the line of how they dress them. Turn on MuchMusic and try to find a young woman with adequate clothing. They are paraded around on the TV like sex symbols and most are way too skinny. Then we also get to hear all the stories about the drug abuse that happens in Hollywood, and these are the people our girls are watching. But talking about it can help open their eyes to reality. I always try to teach the girls they can do anything they put their minds to, and they can do it just as well as a boy. From what I have seen of girls I’ve watched go through Guiding, they are coming out strong women who know they can do anything they want to. I think as Guide leaders we can show the girls that they don’t need to look at those women as their role models, but look right in their own communities. If we show them the possibilities and encourage independence, all while boosting self esteem, then I think they will become strong independent women. One of my former guides once told me she wants to be Prime Minister some day. I think she would be great at it.
I worry more about the girls who don’t have Guiding or a mother who will guide her. As for what boys think, I’ve heard enough comments from them to know that many of them don’t think we could survive without them. By the way, this doesn’t mean I don’t worry about my girls. I still do and realize they may be getting the wrong messages at home too, but I do what I can and hope for the best.