Winning Hollywood’s War On Girls
There are a number of ways that faith-based filmmaking could make a significant difference in the culture-making impact of Hollywood: perhaps none more than as a movement aligned with Women’s groups against the radical sexualization of women in the media.
A recent study by USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism (below) confirms what the American Psychological Association has asserted for years: allegedly pro-women’s rights Hollywood is guilty of waging war against the psyche of young women.
The APA’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls reports that “Virtually every media form studied provides ample evidence of the sexualization of women. …In study after study, findings have indicated that women more often than men are portrayed in a sexual manner (e.g., dressed in revealing clothing, with bodily postures or facial expressions that imply sexual readiness) and are objectified (e.g., used as a decorative object, or as body parts rather than a whole person). In addition, a narrow (and unrealistic) standard of physical beauty is heavily emphasized. These are the models of femininity presented for young girls to study and emulate.”
The impact of sexualization on teenage girls has been devastating. Frequent exposure to media images that sexualize girls and women affects how girls conceptualize femininity and sexuality and often leads to young girls placing appearance and physical attractiveness at the center of a women’s value.
Once acculturated into this sexualized way of thinking of themselves and other woman, many young women suffer with: Ongoing struggles with shame, anxiety, and even self-disgust, Failure to develop healthy and enjoyable sexuality even as adults, Inabilty to develop healthy friendships with young men OR young women, Mental health issues such as eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression Reduced vocational excellence and academic performance (especially in math, science, engineering, and technology).
Now the world’s most prestigious Film School has joined the APA’s chorus against sexualization.
Perhaps it is time for Christian filmmakers to unite with the American Psychological Association, and Women’s rights groups in helping provide a counter-balancing influence in the entertainment industry. What such efforts might look like (certainly not boycotts), I will leave for other’s imaginations. Recent films featuring strong young women in a variety of genre’s–Hanna (action-adventure), Winter’s Bone (drama), Soul Surfer (family-friendly)–all point to the possibility of profitable and even Oscar-worthy projects free from sexualization.
With women currently filling less than 15% of the content creating positions in feature film–writers, directors, producers–and Christians perhaps even less, it will not be an easy project. Still an alliance between these two groups of ‘outsiders’ could be exactly what Hollywood, and the young women of America so desperately need.
Read the USC Report below. . .
Study reveals new data on sexiness on screen
In USC Annenberg News
. The study’s conclusion?
Our findings reveal that motion picture content is sending… consistent and troubling messages… that females are more likely than males to be valued for their appearance. Roughly a fifth to a quarter of all female speaking characters are depicted in a hypersexualized light. These numbers jump substantially higher when only teenaged females are considered. This result is particularly troubling, given the frequency with which young males and females go to the multiplex.
Read 2011 Report: Hollywood Hooked on Sexualizing Teenage Women and Teen Girls
 Quotations from The APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. See also, Gow, 1996; Grauerholz & King, 1997; Krassas, Blauwkamp,& Wesselink, 2001, 2003; Lin, 1997; Plous & Neptune, 1997; Vincent, 1989; Ward, 1995.