Representations of Women in Films Aimed at Young Girls: An Extended Literature Review

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Coville, Stephanie J.
Women , Film , Girls
Films aimed at young girls tend to portray women in a similar way. Women are typically shown as passive, beautiful, and desiring love or marriage. Women with power, on the other hand, while motivated and strong, are seen as evil. These types of repeated portrayals are problematic, as girls are accessing them in greater amounts. While it is difficult to understand precisely what effect these images have on girls, it would be impossible to argue they have no effect. It is for this reason that studying the portrayals of women in films aimed at young girls is so important. Without understanding the images that girls are interacting with, educators and parents will not be able to have critical discussions with girls about what they are viewing. This literature review organizes and presents the scholarly work on feminine gender portrayals in movies aimed at young girls. The topics in this work were derived from subjects found in the literature. Topics include: how children learn gender roles, how women are constructed in films available to young girls, how women with power are portrayed, what women's bodies look like, how love and marriage are portrayed in relation to femininity, and a look at women's level of action and the types of jobs they are shown working in. Essentially, the scholars' work showed that the feminine woman in films aimed at young girls is still presented as young, beautiful, passively waits for her destiny, which typically is finding love or marriage. Davis (2006) sees a slow shift towards a more diverse portrayal of women in films viewed by girls, but she feels that the portrayals still lag behind society's seemingly more open concept of a feminine woman. Davis feels currently that women are empowered to be both feminine and strong, but these notions have been slow to appear in the films this Project encompasses. The findings emphasize the importance of looking at media portrayals of women with a critical eye. Discussing and breaking down these portrayals with young girls is important, as well as offering girls alternative depictions of feminine women.
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