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    Posted on Aug 27, 2015

    5 Ways The Movie Industry Still Fails Women

    For one fifth of movies released in 2015, female characters never speak to each other. And when they do, they often talk only about... men.

    Wikipedia / Via en.wikipedia.org

    Initially presented as a joke in Alison Bechdel’s comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For (1985), the Bechdel Test is now one of the standards used by critics to assess gender bias in films. In order to pass the Bechdel, a movie must meet 3 seemingly simple criteria:

    1- It has to have at least two women in it,

    2- Who talk to each other,

    3- About something besides a man

    1. For one in every five movies released in 2015, female characters never speak to each other.

    silk.co / Via bechdel-test.silk.co

    And this doesn’t account for the 8% of movies that don’t even have two female characters who could have theoretically engaged in a conversation.

    Nor does it account for the other 8% of movies in 2015 in which women do talk to each other… but only about men!

    2. Movies released in 2014 actually set women back on the silver screen, with a drop in percentage of movies passing the Bechdel Rule since 2009.

    silk.co / Via bechdel-test.silk.co

    2014 was a big year for movies. Yet, despite 264 movies released last year and reviewed on bechdeltest.com, only 58% had two or more female characters who spoke to each other and discussed something other than a man.

    Movies that passed the Bechdel Test had seen a steady rise since 2009, but fell dramatically in 2014.

    3. Girl-to-Girl talk is pretty uncommon on screen.

    silk.co / Via bechdel-test.silk.co

    Apparently, finding two named female characters that actually talk to each other, at all, is the biggest obstacle for a movie to past the test.

    In general, movies that have less than two unnamed female characters is (finally) seeing a steady decline.

    Yet, almost every year, at least half the movies that do fail the test do so because female characters didn't engage in a conversation between themselves, not even once.

    4. Of films with ‘family’ in the plot, 74% pass. Only 48% of those with ‘career’ do.

    silk.co / Via bechdel-test.silk.co

    It seems like women have little place in the workplace, be it depicted on screen - or otherwise.

    5. Do young girls have enough role models? Almost half of animated movies surveyed fail the test.

    silk.co / Via bechdel-test.silk.co

    True, passing the Bechdel test doesn’t necessarily imply that a movie presents strong female characters and a gender balanced reality.

    However, it is interesting to realize that many movies targeted at children fundamentally lack female characters - let alone girl protagonists.

    About 46% of all 395 animated movies surveyed fail the Bechdel test. This is even higher than the overall failing rate for all movies analyzed in 2015, which is 43%.

    In most cases, animated movies failed because the female characters never get to talk to each other, a trait found in more 25 %.

    Via youtube.com

    I mean, forget looking for robust storylines that demand the existence of nuanced female characters. We are still looking for depictions of female friendship, connections and exchanges that do not center around men.

    Note: Credit to this research is attributed to Alice Corona, data journalist at Silk.co, and can be found here.

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