Feminist Movie Ratings in Sweden

Typically, movie ratings provide information about language, violence, or nudity, but Sweden has released a new system for rating movies. It’s called the feminist movie rating and is being used to highlight gender bias.

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The system is essentially a pass or fail way for rating movies. In order to receive an “A,” the movie must pass what is called the Bechdel test. The Bechdel test has three requirements: there are two or more women in the film with names, at some point these women talk to each other, and they talk to each other about something besides men.

“For some people it has been an eye-opener,” said Ellen Tejle, a director at one of the theaters using the system, to BuzzFeed. She claims that people rarely see “a female superhero or a female professor or person who makes it through exciting challenges and masters them.”

Some say that the system is over-simplistic, but for the creators the the system it’s about raising the awareness of how women are portrayed in movies. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, women accounted for 33% of all characters and only 11% of the protagonists in the top 100 U.S. films of 2011.

It’s surprising to discover which movies failed the Bechdel test. All of the Lord of the Rings movies and the Star Wars failed to test, as did The Social Network, Up, The Wedding Singer, and all but one of the Harry Potter movies. Movies that passed the Bechdel test include The Hunger Games, Thor: The Dark World, and Cloud Atlas.

For a more extensive list of rated movies look here:

http://bechdeltest.com/?page=1

To read more about the success of the rating system in Sweden look here:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/11/06/sweden-cinema-feminist-rating/3451431/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/alisonvingiano/sweden-launches-a-feminist-movie-rating

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4 thoughts on “Feminist Movie Ratings in Sweden

  1. I absolutely love this idea. Sweden is surely opening people’s eyes to how women are portrayed in movies. I’m surprised only one Harry Potter movie made the cut!

    • My husband was quick to point out that some of those movies simply don’t have many girl characters. Harry Potter’s only main female is Hermione, and she is primarily talking to Ron and Harry throughout the movies. Then again, it just shows how little women are even portrayed as main characters, let alone talk about something more than men.

  2. This is very interesting, thanks for the post Brittany. I would think it depends on the movie… as your husband said the main characters aren’t women. Just because a movie doesn’t pas this Bechdel test, does it mean the movie isn’t a good movie? What do you think?

    • I really don’t think the Bechdel test is a way of saying if a movie is good or bad necessarily. I mean, there are plenty of great movies that don’t pass the test. I think the test is more designed as a way to amplify the fact that women aren’t portrayed the same way as men, even in the best movies. How hard is it to ask that there’s at least one woman in a named role and that she talks to another woman about something other than men? Apparently, it’s quite difficult.

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