Academy Award winner Geena Davis has waded into the controversy over this year's Oscar ceremony by saying host Seth MacFarlane's routine was disrespectful to women, particularly the performers who were being honoured.

The Thelma & Louise star said MacFarlane's much-criticised routine last month overshadowed the win of an animated film with a strong female character.

"It's a shame that that triumph was enveloped in an awards ceremony containing disrespect for women," Davis told members of the California Assembly during a ceremony in Sacramento.

geena davis

"But it helps illustrate how tone-deaf we can still be regarding the status of women."

She praised Brave, which won best animated picture, as setting a positive example for girls.

Davis, who won a best supporting actress Oscar for The Accidental Tourist in 1988, was in the state capital as one of 11 California women honoured for their achievements.

She is chairwoman of the state's Commission on the Status of Women and Girls and founded a non-profit organisation that promotes gender equality in the media.

Last week, two female state politicians sent a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences asking it to condemn MacFarlane's quips about nude scenes and the attractiveness of several female actresses as degrading toward women.

The academy issued a general statement defending MacFarlane and saying the award show is about "creative freedom".

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Santa Barbara Democrat who co-authored the letter, said that she was disappointed the academy did not address her concerns.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Adele, Paul Epworth

    Singer Adele, left, and musician/producer Paul Epworth accept the award for best original song for "Skyfall" from "Skyfall" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Adele, Paul Epworth

    Singer Adele, left, and musician/producer Paul Epworth accept the award for best original song for "Skyfall" from "Skyfall" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Adele

    Singer Adele accepts the award for best music - original song for "Skyfall," from the film "Skyfall," during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Anne Hathaway, Christopher Plummer

    Actor Christopher Plummer, right, presents the award for best actress in a supporting role to Anne Hathaway for "Les Miserables" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Sandra Bullock

    Actress Sandra Bullock presents an award during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • William Goldenberg, Sandra Bullock

    Actress Sandra Bullock, right, presents the award for best film editing to William Goldenberg for "Argo" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Daniel Radcliffe, Kristen Stewart

    Actors Daniel Radcliffe, left, and Kristen Stewart present an award during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Rick Carter

    Rick Carter accepts the award for best production design for "Lincoln" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Russell Crowe

    Actor Russell Crowe, from the cast of "Les Miserables," performs during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas

    Actors Jane Fonda, right, and Michael Douglas present an award during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Ang Lee

    Ang Lee accepts the award for best directing for "Life of Pi" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Jennifer Lawrence

    Actress Jennifer Lawrence stumbles as she walks on stage to accept the award for best actress in a leading role for "Silver Linings Playbook" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Quentin Tarantino, Charlize Theron

    Actress Charlize Theron, left, presents the award for best writing - original screenplay to Quentin Tarantino for "Django Unchained" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Karen Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence

    Karen Lawrence, left, and Bradley Cooper, right, congratulate Jennifer Lawrence after she was announced as the winner of the award for best actress in a leading role for "Silver Linings Playbook" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Jennifer Lawrence

    Jennifer Lawrence accepts the award for best actress in a leading role for "Silver Linings Playbook" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Daniel Day-Lewis

    Daniel Day-Lewis accepts the award for best actor in a leading role for "Lincoln" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Daniel Day-Lewis

    Daniel Day-Lewis accepts the award for best actor in a leading role for "Lincoln" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Daniel Day-Lewis

    Daniel Day-Lewis accepts the award for best actor in a leading role for "Lincoln" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Jennifer Lawrence

    Jennifer Lawrence accepts the award for best actress in a leading role for "Silver Linings Playbook" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • George Clooney

    Actor George Clooney speaks on stage during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Barbra Streisand

    Actress/singer Barbra Streisand performs "Memories" for the In Memoriam tribute during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. Pictured on screen is the late composer Marvin Hamlisch. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Barbra Streisand

    Actress/singer Barbra Streisand performs "Memories" for the In Memoriam tribute during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. Pictured on screen is the late composer Marvin Hamlisch. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Barbra Streisand

    Actress/singer Barbra Streisand performs "Memories" for the In Memoriam tribute during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Adele, Paul Epworth

    Singer Adele, left, and musician/producer Paul Epworth accept the award for best original song for "Skyfall" from "Skyfall" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Norah Jones

    Singer Norah Jones performs during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Barbra Streisand

    Actress/singer Barbra Streisand performs "Memories" for the In Memoriam tribute during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. Pictured on screen is the late composer Marvin Hamlisch. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Charlize Theron, Dustin Hoffman

    Actors Charlize Theron, left, and Dustin Hoffman present an award during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Barbra Streisand

    Barbra Streisand performs "Memories" for the In Memoriam tribute during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson

    Andy Nelson, left, and Mark Paterson accept the award for best sound mixing for "Les Miserables" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Daniel Radcliffe, Kristen Stewart

    Actors Daniel Radcliffe, left, and Kristen Stewart present an award during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway

    Actors Hugh Jackman, left, and Anne Hathaway, from the cast of "Les Miserables," perform during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Samantha Barks, Aaron Tveit, Eddie Redmayne, Anne Hathaway

    From left, actors Samantha Barks, Aaron Tveit, Eddie Redmayne and Anne Hathaway, from the cast of "Les Miserables," perform during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • George Clooney

    Actor George Clooney speaks on stage during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Mark Wahlberg

    Actor Mark Wahlberg speaks on stage during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway

    Actors Hugh Jackman, front, and Anne Hathaway, from the cast of "Les Miserables," perform during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Norah Jones

    Singer Norah Jones performs during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Barbra Streisand

    Barbra Streisand performs "Memories" for the In Memoriam tribute during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Adele

    Singer Adele accepts the award for best music - original song for "Skyfall," from the film "Skyfall," during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Barbra Streisand

    Actress/singer Barbra Streisand performs "Memories" for the In Memoriam tribute during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. Pictured on screen is the late composer Marvin Hamlisch. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Adele

    Singer Adele accepts the award for best original song for "Skyfall" from the film "Skyfall" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Adele

    Singer Adele accepts the award for best original song for "Skyfall" from the film "Skyfall" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Quentin Tarantino

    Quentin Tarantino accepts the award for best original screenplay for "Django Unchained" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Quentin Tarantino

    Quentin Tarantino accepts the award for best original screenplay for "Django Unchained" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Quentin Tarantino

    Quentin Tarantino accepts the award for best writing - original screenplay for "Django Unchained" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Barbra Streisand

    Barbra Streisand performs "Memories" for the In Memoriam tribute during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas

    Actors Jane Fonda, right, and Michael Douglas present an award during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Chris Terrio

    Chris Terrio accepts the award for best writing - adapted screenplay for "Argo" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Quentin Tarantino

    Quentin Tarantino accepts the award for best original screenplay for "Django Unchained" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Aaron Tveit, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Hugh Jackman, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Russell Crowe

    From left, actors Aaron Tveit, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Hugh Jackman, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen and Russell Crowe, from the cast of "Les Miserables," perform during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Aaron Tveit, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Hugh Jackman, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Russell Crowe

    From left, actors Aaron Tveit, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Hugh Jackman, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen and Russell Crowe, from the cast of "Les Miserables," perform during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Aaron Tveit, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Hugh Jackman, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Russell Crowe

    From left, actors Aaron Tveit, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Hugh Jackman, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen and Russell Crowe, from the cast of "Les Miserables," perform during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)