Shocker? USC Study Calls Hollywood ‘Hooked’ on Sexualizing Women & Girls

Study also finds that women directors, writers and producers continue to be under-represented behind the camera

Last Updated: November 23, 2011 @ 2:18 PM

Women and girls were sexualized in the top 100 grossing movies of 2009, a new study by University of Southern California researchers shows.

The study says also reports that women continue to be under-represented behind the camera, accounting for only 3.6 percent of directors, 13.5 percent of writers and 21.6 percent of producers in 2009, according to the study.

"The landscape of cinematic content is … grossly imbalanced," the study, by Stacy L. Smith (left), Marc Choueiti and Stephanie Gall, of the Annenberg School for Communications & Journalism, concludes. "Females are not only infrequent, but they are also stereotyped and sexualized in popular motion picture content."

The study says that "clearly, females are not as valued as males on screen, behind-the-camera or as consumers of motion picture content."

According to the study, 13-to-20-year-old females are as likely as 21-to-29-year-old women to be shown wearing sexually revealing clothing or to be partially nude; 33.8 percent were shown in what the study considered "sexy" clothing; and 28.2 percent were shown with exposed skin in the cleavage, midriff or upper thigh.

Among teenaged males, the number was significantly lower, the study shows — only 5.3 percent wore "sexy" clothing and 11.2 percent showed skin.

Across ages, the study says, "Females are more likely than males to be shown in sexy attire (25.8 percent vs. 4.7 percent), partially naked (23.6 percent vs. 7.4 percent) and attractive (10.9 percent vs. 2.5 percent)."

Of the three measures — sexy attire, nudity and attractiveness, "physical beauty is the only one that has decreased meaningfully from 2007 to 2009," the study says.

Researchers examined 4,342 speaking characters in the top 100 grossing movies of 2009. Of those characters, 32.8 percent were women and 67.2 percent were men. That works out to 2.05 males for every female — the same as 2008.

It also found that as women get older, they are far less likely to be onscreen: only 22.2 percent of all females in speaking roles were between the ages of 40 to 64 years old. Among men, 35.2 percent were between 40 and 64.