Encourage American Theaters to Expose Sexism in Movies


Target: Christopher J. Dodd, Motion Picture Association of America Chairman and CEO

Goal: Applaud the new sexism movie rating system put in place in Sweden that exposes movies without a meaningful female presence, and encourage the Motion Picture Association of America to follow suit.

Several movie theaters in Sweden have begun giving movies a sexism rating based on the “Bechdel Test” created by comic author and artist Alison Bechdel in 1985 in her beloved comic strip, “The Rule.” This simple test is comprised of two parts: the movie must have two named female characters, and those characters must have a conversation about something other than a man in order to pass the test. This test reveals whether or not a movie has a meaningful female presence, and the state-funded Swedish Film Institute is enthusiastic about its use. The Motion Picture Association of America should include this, or a similar rating, when reviewing and promoting a movie to the public.

The Bechdel Test has been deemed by some as incomplete because it does not necessarily mean the movie portrays women in a positive light or that the movie is necessarily feminist. It also does not take into account ethnic diversity among female characters. However, this rating system is a step in the right direction, making people think about the messages being sent to viewers in the movies they are seeing. The goal of this rating system is to promote more female stories and perspectives in film. San Diego State University studies have found that only about 11% of the protagonists in the top 100 films of 2011 were female, exposing a great need for increased female presence.

Applaud Swedish movie theaters for promoting a meaningful female presence in films. Encourage the Motion Picture Association of America to adopt the Bechdel Test rating system to inform movie goers of each film’s attitudes toward women, encouraging American filmmakers to respond to the demand for a stronger female presence in today’s films.


Dear Motion Picture Association of America Chairman and CEO Christopher J. Dodd,

Movie theaters in Sweden have begun using the “Bechdel Test” to rate the level of meaningful female presence in movies. A recent study by San Diego State University researchers revealed the lack of female protagonists in movies today, and this rating system further exposes this truth and encourages viewers to demand movies with a more prominent female presence and perspective. Please use this rating system, or a similar system, when rating and reviewing movies for the general public, so viewers can be aware of the attitude films have toward women before they support the film by buying a ticket to see it.

Consider adding to this rating system by including ethnic diversity components, and exposing female stereotypes in popular movies, encouraging film makers to present women more genuinely in films. Encourage movie theaters and television stations to begin using a rating system to expose sexism in movies and television programming as well. Thank you for setting a positive example for others by adopting this rating system, and for making viewers think about the messages they receive through the movies they watch.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Seattle Cinerama, Wikimedia

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