Television programs show
most girls and women in unrealistic
roles: Only one in five Saturday morning
T.V. characters is female; less than
5 percent of children's T.V. characters
are people of color; most girls on T.V.
are interested in two things: boys and
clothes. Girls Incorporated (a
national youth organization) started
a campaign called "Girls Re-Cast
T.V." that teaches girls to evaluate
what they see and hear on T.V.. Last
Inc. of Dallas, Texas, held
a " Girls Re-Cast T.V." talk
show. Two of the show's participants
tell us more. Love, Luna.
My name is Monisha Randolph.
I served as an usher at the "Girls
Re-Cast T.V." talk show. I was one
of 75 girls, ages 6 through 18, who
participated. I helped seat people,
passed out programs, and handed the
microphone to audience members. Girls
asked talk show panelists questions
about television shows, and how they
felt about the way girls and women are
shown. Some shows portray females positively,
such as "Seinfeld" and "Home Improvement."
These programs show females as strong
and independent. Other shows, such as
"Married With Children," "Baywatch,"
and "Martin," show females in negative
and stereotypical ways. I learned to
be smart when I watch television, and
I learned that girls need to pay attention
to the difference between T.V.'s reality
and the real world. I also learned that
girls can help change programs with
negative images of females by writing
letters to T.V. networks and producers
and by not watching those programs.
I'm Folashade Oni and
I was a panelist. As a group, we compiled
a list of the 10 best and 10 worst female
role models on television today. Some
of the women listed as the best role
models were Ricki Lake, Oprah Winfrey,
and Sally Jessy Raphael. Some of the
female TV show characters we thought
were good role models were Khadijah
from "Living Single," Jill from "Home
Improvement," and Laura Winslow from
"Family Matters." These women and T.V.
show characters possess strength and
intelligence, are career- and goal-oriented,
and are in control of their own lives.
Characters that made our top ten worst
role models list were Kelly from "Married
With Children," Amanda from "Melrose
Place" and Gina from "Martin." These
characters show women as sex objects
or mean people.
We also talked about
how females' roles on T.V. have changed.
In the past, T.V. only showed women
in homemaker roles, and they were almost
always married or had a boyfriend. Today,
many women are playing characters that
have careers, such as Vivian from "The
Fresh Prince of Bel Air," who is a college
professor. Also, single women are shown
as being strong and happy, like the
character Khadijah James on the sitcom
"Living Single." She plays a young,
single, African American female who
runs her own business and has positive,
close relationships with her friends.
This experience made
me realize that girls have to try to
change negative stereotypes of women
on television. We can refuse roles that
are degrading to women and minorities,
or that portray women as sex objects.
And we can write letters to television
shows, letting them know how we want
females to be shown on T.V. Together
we have a voice!
12, is a seventh grader at Pearl C.
Anderson Middle School in Dallas. She
likes science and someday wants to be
16, is a junior at Skyline High School
and Career Development Center in Dallas.
She is on her school's drill team and
sings in her church choir.
To participate or receive
more information, contact Girls Inc., 30 East 33rd St., New York,
NY 10016-5394, or call (212) 689-3700.
Reprinted, with permission,
from New Moon Publishing.