Target: Anna Serner, CEO of the Swedish Film Institute
Goal: Applaud Sweden for instituting test to ensure equal gender representation in films
Over half of the global population is female, and yet of the top one hundred U.S. films in 2011, only 33% of characters were female and a dismal 11% were female protagonists. This is not an anomaly. Under-representation of women in film, media, and even history textbooks is a recurring, systemic problem.
Moreover, very few films even feature the easily met criteria of the Bechdel Test: a test created by American cartoonist Alison Bechdel which requires a film to feature two named female characters who speak for more than a few seconds about something other than a male character. This is an absurd deficit of intelligent female characters with inner lives, thoughts, and feelings beyond the male-dominated culture.
This is more than just a revisionary complaint: this issue has far-reaching consequences that are not so visible when taken at face value. This is part of the insidious nature of these types of exclusionary practices, that audiences are unwittingly compliant in a greater culture of sexism, objectification, and marginalization. When women are not included in media dialogue, when their stories are not told and their humanity unaddressed, it is easier to dismiss their perspectives and needs in society. While media does not have a direct correlation to the things we say and do in life, it does help to shape the world we live in and our perspectives within that world.
Featuring women prominently in film is a vital step towards achieving gender equality, and it is telling that a nation such as Sweden, that is so progressive in many ways, has instituted a new rating system that measures the success or failure of a film to meet the criteria of the Bechdel Test. This rating will be widely available to the Swedish public to help them better judge whether they would like to support the film or not.
Please sign this petition applauding Sweden’s efforts at gender equality in film, and by extension, in the culture at large.
Dear Anna Serner,
Thank you and the Swedish Film Institute for your commitment to featuring women and women’s stories prominently in film through your use of the Bechdel Test to rate new movies. Film and media are some of the vital factors that shape our worldview, and judging films based on their representation of women will go a long way to close the gap between the prominence of men and women’s perspectives in our culture.
Women deserve to have their stories told, their opinions noted, and their voices heard. Thank you for ensuring that the Swedish public can now better judge which films, and which ideas, they would like to support.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: sailko via Wikimedia Commons