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Seeing is Believing

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Women in popular culture: Seeing is believing

Georgia Cockerell
Sydney Opera House

When I was little I wanted to run away and join the circus. I had dreams of flying round a ring performing handstands on the back of a horse with a gleaming black mane and tail.

My inspiration was a girl named Lotta in an Enid Blyton book. I never made it to the circus. But maybe if Lotta hadn’t needed to chop off her hair and masquerade as a boy to follow her dream, things might have been different. 

I wanted to be lots of things when I was little; a physiotherapist, a professional athlete, a writer, an artist. I saw my father go to work every morning with a briefcase and for a while I aspired to be a ‘businessman’.

I was lucky enough to have a family and strong women around me who believed in my dreams and who gave me the best opportunities to pursue them, however often I changed my mind.

Yet still somehow, after graduation, the world got smaller, choices seemed harder to attain and amidst the scrabble to find a job, my dreams were a little dampened.

According to Geena Davis, the Hollywood actor and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, “It’s been shown that the more hours of TV a girl watches, the fewer options she thinks she has in life.” She argues that we judge our value on how we are reflected in popular culture. And women and girls are strikingly underrepresented.

A study carried out by her Institute shows that in 2015, only 17% of the top grossing films had a female lead. Male characters received twice the amount of screen time as female characters and spoke two times as often as female characters in the top box office movies.

When girls can’t see themselves, they start to internalise a message, unconsciously, that they are not as valuable as boys. Or that they can’t run away to join a circus.

Georgia Cockerell is SOH’s Digital Video Specialist and produced the Seeing is Believing video with VERSUS MEDIA for All About Women 2017. The video was made possible by Maserati, Event Partner of All About Women and Proud Partner of the Sydney Opera House.


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