End Marginalization of Women in Film

Oscar Awards

Target: Howard Koch, Jr. president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Goal: Establish a quota for prominent speaking female characters in Oscar-nominated films

Hollywood films have a long-standing tradition of minimalizing women’s roles, and a very simple way to demonstrate this is the Bechdel Test. The Bechdel Test was developed by cartoonist-author Allison Bechdel in 1985, and it works to gauge the prominence of female characters in film. To pass the Bechdel Test, a film must have more than one named female character who speaks to another named female character about something other than a man.

Despite the overwhelming simplicity of the test, only three Oscar-nominated films passed the test in 2013, and the majority passed simply on technicalities. For instance, Silver Linings Playbook passes, but only if you count some brief small talk over dinner. In past years, some Oscar-winning films technically could pass unless you implement the more recent addition of a time limit (30 seconds to a minute).

At least 50% of Oscar-nominated movies should pass the updated Bechdel test involving the time limit of 30 seconds. This number is both reasonable and incredibly generous, seeing as women make up 51% of the population, and this test does not even require that their roles be leading or prominent in any other way besides speaking for more than thirty seconds, to another female character, about something other than a man.

Sign this petition to demand a quota of at least 50% of Oscar-nominated movies pass the Bechdel test.


Dear Howard Koch, Jr.,

In a world where the majority of the population is female, women deserve to have their voices heard and their stories told. Female characters should not still be relegated to sex symbols or props or scenery or token characters.

Please honor the Oscar’s tradition of celebrating quality filmmaking and establish a precedent for female characters to be heard. An abysmal number of Oscar-nominated films feature speaking female characters, even less so who speak to other female about something other than the male protagonists. At least 50% of films nominated should pass the Bechdel Test, wherein named female characters speak to other named female characters about something other than men. It is an outrageously simple test to pass, and every film should strive toward it.

Your contribution to this cause would truly make all the difference, and would be a huge stride toward equality in art and film.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Antoine Taveneaux via Wikimedia Commons

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89 Signatures

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