Ask the Film Industry to Pass the Bechdel Test and Commit to Better Representation of Women in Films

  • by: Sarah Steel
  • target: The international film industry

This petition calls on filmmakers to commit to bettering their representations of women on film, by making films with the Bechdel Test in mind.

Films are watched by millions of people around the world, and influence our understanding of men’s and women’s place in society. They are one of the many contributing parts to a greater media environment which is still hugely sexist in its representation of women. Films affect what girls think about the possibilities for their place in the world as they grow up. In an analysis of 500 popular films in 2012, speaking parts were around 28.4% female.

The Bechdel Test is a very basic test that should be seen as a bare minimum for female participation in movies, yet a significant percentage of films (hovering around 43-45% in the user-generated database, and approximately 69% of IMDB's top 250 films, fail to meet it.

All the test requires is that a film:

  1. Has two female characters in it, who
  2. Have a conversation with each other, that's
  3. About something other than a man.

Whilst we would hope that multiple fully formed, complex female characters will make up a much larger percentage of films (maybe even half!) one day, a small step in the right direction would be for the producers, writers and directors who create the films that we all consume to commit to making sure that their films Pass the Bechdel Test unless there is a specific reason* for them not to do so.

Filmmakers have a social responsibility to portray women doing more or at the very least, having conversations with each other.

*Examples of films where it's not practical to pass the Bechdel Test are: the film has three or less characters (e.g. GravityBuried), is set at a place and time where there were only men or very few women (e.g. Good Night, and Good Luck.Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World), is based on a text that limits the possibilities (e.g. The Road).

In signing this petition, I am demonstrating that there is public support for seeing better and more equal representations of women on film. I encourage filmmakers to respond positively to the Pass the Bechdel Test campaign, and to sign up to the charter committing to always pass the Bechdel Test in their filmmaking whenever there is no reason not to do so.

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