Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

30 August 2007

Who owns See Jane?

Have you ever wondered why we don't see more girls as lead characters in children's movies and shows? Have you ever stopped to figure out the ratio of boys and girls as characters period? Well earlier this year, Dads & Daughters, released a study through the See Jane program, about gender and racial disparity in TV shows. In 2006 they released a studies about gender, gender roles for boys, and occupation in G-rated movies. All fabu work!

The See Jane program was touted with Geena Davis' name attached on press releases and fund raising efforts. When I first saw all this, I thought two things: WOW! About time! and Go Geena!
But today I read a story via the Chronicle of Philanthropy that Geena is now suing for ownership of the See Jane program. It boils down to who came up with the idea.

In 2004, Davis allegedly conceived the See Jane program, for which she has since raised $750,000, according to the suit. She actively promoted the program while working with Dads and Daughters.

See Jane's mission initially focused on research. According to a See Jane-sponsored study released in March, the way gender is portrayed on television can critically impact a child's development, particularly the "task of integrating what it means to be male or female into their own personalities."

According to her suit, Davis always maintained "complete and exclusive control of the See Jane concept."

I love both See Jane and Dads & Daughters, so I hope that they can come to a good conclusion without bankrupting D&D. They are doing such great work together and I hope that this is just a tussle and they can go back to viewing what our children are watching through that gender lens.

I know that it's very hard to conceive an idea, hand it over to someone else to run with, and then see things not going as well as you had hoped. I have no idea if this is what is really happening though. As I said, I just want them to go back to the research that makes us go Hmm....

Here are some findings from the various research reports:

  • In the 101 studied films, there are three male characters for every one female character.
  • Fewer than one out of three (28 percent) of the speaking characters (both real and animated) are female.
  • G-rated films show few examples of male characters as parents or as partners in a marriage or committed relationship.
  • Almost twice as many non-white males (62%) as white males (37.6%) are portrayed as physically aggressive or violent.
  • In...G-rated movies, whether animated or live-action, the most common occupation for female characters is white collar work, such as clerical and secretarial positions.
  • The top three jobs for male characters are white collar, blue collar and military.
  • Three quarters of all the single, speaking characters on children’s television were White, giving young television viewers a distorted ethnic worldview.
  • In live-action children’s TV (shows using human actors), 53.9 percent of characters were male and 46.1 percent were female. This translates into a ratio of 1.17 males to every 1 female—the most balanced ratio among forms of children’s electronic entertainment.
There are more reports due out, including one on the hypersexualition of children. I canNOT wait for that one.

X-posted at the Red Thread at Chicago Parent

Technorati tags: feminist, Das and Daughters, Geena Davis, See Jane, movies

2 comments:

Veronica:
I thought you should see the statement I distributed about this matter.
- Joe Kelly, President, Dads & Daughters
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On Monday evening, August 27, 2007, we received word that Geena Davis had filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Dads & Daughters and personally against DADs’ executive director Nancy Gruver and me over See Jane, a Dads & Daughters program for which Geena was the spokesperson and public face.

For four years, Geena volunteered with Dads & Daughters as we turned the See Jane concept into a very successful program. During this time, Dads & Daughters has invested its expertise, leadership and resources to make See Jane into a great success. Throughout our years with her, Geena acknowledged DADs’ ownership of the See Jane program and expressed repeatedly her admiration and gratitude for DADs' creation of this program.

For example, in Dads & Daughters’ 2004-2005 annual report, Geena wrote: “My great fortune was to be introduced to Dads and Daughters. I had an idea -- and NO idea how to make it happen. But partnering with DADs has brought about the creation of See Jane…. This is the most exciting thing I've ever done, and Dads and Daughters made my dream a reality.”

On July 20, 2007, Geena called us to express her desire to remove See Jane from DADs and establish the program as its own entity. While we were incredibly disappointed, we have been working collaboratively and cordially with her to complete a thoughtful and deliberate transition that will serve everyone well. Although there were some areas of disagreement, we hoped and expected to make a smooth transition.

Given our close personal relationship with and respect for Geena, we were shocked to hear about the lawsuit, which has no legal merit. The complaint is filled with inaccuracies and false allegations against DADs and Nancy and me personally.

DADs remains strongly committed to See Jane’s goals: using cutting-edge research and advocacy to engage professionals and parents in dramatically increasing the percentages of female characters -- and reducing gender stereotyping -- in entertainment media made for children 11 and under.

For more than 15 years, Nancy and I have dedicated our lives to making the world safe and fair for all our daughters. We’re very proud to be part of Dads & Daughters because of its outstanding record of providing unique services efficiently and honorably.

We are doing everything we can to resolve this matter in a less hostile fashion so that we can put our energy and efforts back into advocating for girls and their families.

Thanks Joe. I saw it, but thank you for visiting and giving your say. Now if Geena stops by I might faint!

I wish you both the best for the future.