Snapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks.
The New F-ratings of Films in Sweden: Bringing feminist-friendly female role models to the attention of the public
Sam Grigg (Newcastle University)
Sweden, one of the greatest gender-equality countries, is imposing the use of the Bechdel test for cinema releases. Simple in nature, the test requires the fiction in question to have at least two women in it, they must talk to each other, and they must discuss something besides men. Usually employed by feminist critics who will give the rating, the test assesses how female-friendly certain fiction is.
It is unacceptable that so many popular films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Pulp Fiction, The Social Network and all but one of the Harry Potter films fail the test. The Hunger Games and The Iron Lady, however, pave way for feminist approval. However, it is disconcerting that around half of films that do get awarded this rating (of an ‘A’) only do so because of discussions of babies or marriage, which is hardly progressing from gender-stereotyping.
A criticism of the Bechdel test is that writers argue they have a duty to portray life truthfully, so feel unfairly punished if they don’t pass the test due to showing real-life misogyny. Additionally, many sexist films can still pass the test, and films with all-female characters can fail, meaning that it doesn’t explain whether a film is gender-balanced.
Despite the above criticisms, the UK should declare the use and regulation of such a test; if it did, the rating should be made compulsorily published as with the British Board of Film Classification prior to release. (more…)