Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Are Males Dominant, Disconnected, and Dangerous?

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Here is a little more evidence to help you monitor what your kids are being exposed to at home or day care, via movies. A 2006 research brief commissioned by the See Jane Program at Dads & Daughters suggests that G-rated movies are portraying males outnumbering females, seldom in significant relationships, and as physically aggressive. The report, "G Movies Give Boys a D," includes results from the content analysis of the 101 top-grossing G-rated movies released from 1990 through 2004 conducted by the Annenberg School for Communication (ASC) at the University of Southern California (USC).

This report analyzed 4,249 speaking characters in both animated and live-action films finding 72% of the characters were male and mostly white male characters with non-white characters portrayed as more aggressive, isolated, and most often as sidekicks, comic relief, or villains. In addition, G-rated films do not frequently show males as parents, or as partners in committed relationships, providing a notable lack of positive role models in a society with high rates of divorce and absent fathers.

Given this unequal and unrealistic portrayal of males, not only are children learning that it is better to be male, they are also likely to adopt the perception of males as aggressive - not good for boys or girls. What we need are characters that are perceived as courageous for standing up against sexism and violence!

The next time you watch a movie with your children, you can pay attention to the characters, discussing the portrayal of both male and female characters, pointing out the lack of diversity or accuracy, helping protect them from adopting negative stereotypes. You can also point out positive examples of characters treating each other with dignity and respect, for example, the cooperation between the siblings in "The Last Mimzy," which is the best movie I have seen lately, fine for kids, but rated PG."

Photo credit: [martin]

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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