Girls on Screen

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Some tips for co-viewing TV and film with your kids.

Start Counting – Keep a tally of the kids of characters you are watching. What are they like? What do they look like? How many are girls? Are they ethnically diverse? Is there a correlation between their race and/or gender and how they are portrayed? Helping to build your children’s awareness talking about these observations can offer a good opportunity for further discussion.

Find Alternatives – There are some great alternatives out there. Common Sense Media and A Mighty Girl are just some of the offerings on the internet to help point you in a direction that both you and your girls will be happy with. If you don’t like something don’t watch it and try not buy their merchandise whenever possible (easier said than done of course!) Nothing gets the people at the top to listen more than talking with your wallet.

Challenge Assumptions – As your kids get older you can talk to them more and more the stereotypes that they are confronted with and try to break them down. Using real world examples will help a lot. Not all blondes are dumb for example. Aunty so and so loves to play chess. Being a “stay at home mum” (the very term makes us cringe as it implies we’re hanging out on the sofa in our pj’s) is a job just like going to work in an office is. Cousin x is a doctor; Could she do her job properly wearing 6-inch-high heels or would she be thinking about how much her feet hurt?! Etc. etc.

Talk About Humour in Stereotypes – Stereotypes are often relied upon for humour, but they can turn mean or even offensive very quickly. For adults and kids alike it can often be hard to determine whether a stereotype is making fun of a particular group or person inappropriately or even making light of those who are prejudiced themselves. A trick to knowing the boundaries is that if you wouldn’t make that joke in front of those particular people then it’s probably not funny.

Watch Together – No better way to start discussions, tackle tricky stuff when it first appears and challenge things you don’t like is to do it in the here and now.

Useful links.

Common Sense Media is an amazing non-profit site that aims to “rate, educate and advocate for kids, families and schools” and is a great resource for all things media related from 2 to 18 years. One of it’s greatest features is that you can search almost any kid’s TV or films and get a comprehensive breakdown of it’s content. Including ratings for educational value, positive messages, positive role models, violence & scariness, sexy stuff, language, consumerism and drinking, smoking & drugs. There are also parent and kid reviews and opinions.

There are lots of helpful articles and features on the subject of TV thats good for girls and strong female film characters but also on positive role models,  raising body positive girls and movies with smart girls and athletic girls as central characters.

Helpful info about TV watching for kids from the Child Development Institute.

Another great set of tips for talking to you kids about media from Media Smarts. Canadian based non-profit who campaign for digital & media literacy.

One of The Minefield’s favourite A Mighty Girl have great alternatives and advice on characters in film, TV, books and games that will inspire your own mighty girls.

The Geena Davis Institute for Gender In The Media is a ground breaking research based organisation dedicated to the need to address the gender imbalance of the media and entertainment industries. Founded by it’s name-sake award winning actress the institute has amassed the largest body of research on the subject. The website is full of eye opening research and great resources.




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