New TV And Movie Rating Aims To End On-Screen Gender Stereotypes

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Common Sense Media is releasing a new rating to help combat antiquated gender roles in media, which ultimately influences children's mentalities.

As "Fast and the Furious" actress Michelle Rodriguez recently pointed out, Hollywood has a sexism problem, especially with regards to outdated gender stereotypes. Children who grow up consuming these films and TV shows are affected by what they see, which has prompted the start of a new media rating system, The New York Times reported.

On Tuesday, the nonprofit organization Common Sense Media announced the new rating, which measures "positive gender representations," or a show or film's ability to defy kids' current understanding of traditional gender roles. 

"For young audiences who absorb ideas from the media on how to behave and what to become, these characterizations can lead to false assumptions and harmful conclusions," the Common Sense Media website said. "These oversimplified characterizations play out in many ways over and over."

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That's not the case with every show, though. Think Emily Deschanel as the forensic anthropologist who helps solve crimes in the show "Bones," or the true story, "Hidden Figures." Another positively rated show was "MasterChef Junior," which proves that cooking is not just for girls. Obviously, "Wonder Woman" made the list. 

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Common Sense Media already has a metric that tells parents if a show's character demonstrates desirable traits like courage or empathy. To come up with the new rating, they conducted research and a survey, polling 1,000 American parents. They found that moms and dads were most concerned about how the media would influence how their kids looked, talked, acted in romantic relationships, and which jobs they believed they could get. In other words, parents were well aware that the media's portrayal of gender stereotypes would influence how their children thought about themselves.

In particular, African American parents showed concern over the media portraying African American boys as aggressive and violent. That's why last year's hit film "Moonlight" earned an approval rating. 

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Movies like "Bridesmaids," which was indeed a woman-powered comedy, didn't make the cut. "There wasn't necessarily an intent to push against gender stereotypes," Betsy Bozdech, Common Sense Media's executive director told The New York Times.

Even conservative-leaning parents who would rather have children's entertainment feature traditional gender roles will at least find the rating system informative, Bozdech said.

The seal is meant to highlight those pushing boundaries, which will hopefully inspire children to do the same.

Thumbnail/banner image credit: Flickr user NASA/Bill Ingalls

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