By Grace Tobin

“I’d rather be the girl playing baseball, than the girlfriend of the main character playing baseball.” – Geena Davis

Geena Davis’s roles in some of my favorite movies such as, Thelma and Louise and Beetle Juice, already creates huge respect for her acting skills. But before her appearance in the opening session at the SPARK Summit, I never knew Gina Davis had such influential effects in terms of fighting the sexist media we are surrounded with daily. Since she is an actor in the media industry, it was very interesting to hear that she is fighting against the institution she works for. Today, Davis only takes up acting roles in when women can “have a voice,” roles in which she is able to be a strong character, not just eye candy for the viewer.

The statistics she also provided were astonishing. For example, girls only make up 17% of group scenes in media, and are therefore completely outweighed by their male counterparts. Some of the statistics blew me away. I began to think ‘How many parents are letting their children watch such TV without seeing the true effects it is having?’ 3 year-olds are feeding into the ideals of sexist stereotypes and body image from the moment they turn on the TV for the first time. They are bombarded by the shows, movies, music, magazines, advertisements, phones and the internet before they even know it. I am 16, and yet I only just became aware of the huge impact that media has on my life; the huge negative impact. Think about how many sexist stereotypes have already been subconsciously drilled into my mind.

My cousin was only 5 when he created a Facebook page. This is a perfect example of how media plays a bigger role in our day-to-day lives now than it ever has before, especially with younger generations growing up right alongside the growing media industry. Statistics also show that the more TV a young girl watches, the more conscious and pressed she will feel to change her body, and lower self-esteem she will have.

It has also been shown, that the more TV a boy watches, the greater his sexist values will increase. But we can use technology to our advantage to stop its abuse through its sexual exploitation of girls and women, such as spreading awareness through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. It is important to take advantage of the media and make sure we grab up every opportunity we have to turn the industry against itself.

As she uses her spotlight in the media for such a cause as the sexual exploitation of girls and women in the media, Gina Davis is someone I now greatly admire. Davis has also taken up archery and has qualified for the Olympics as a form of empowerment and motivation which leads the way for many, like myself, to follow our dreams and ambitions with all our might. When I see influential figures such as Gina Davis do this kind of work, the power I feel that I can personally have against the sexual exploitation of girls and women through the media seems all the more possible, and all the more within reach.

Originally posted on F to the Third Power

Grace Tobin is a junior at Elisabeth Irwin High School. Outside of school, she enjoys painting and drawing. She also loves to run competitively. Getting involved with the SPARK team is personally important for Grace as it has helped her exercise her skills in leadership and express her ideas on the sexualization and harassment of girls.